Arms and the middleman

The Hindu May 3, 2016

Allegations of wrongdoings in military procurements are as old as independent India. Within months of the country becoming free, there were insinuations that India’s first High Commissioner to London, V.K. Krishna Menon, had not adhered to procurement norms while ordering 200 jeeps for the Indian Army. Some 150 jeeps that finally landed in Madras port were refurbished second-hand ones, probably used in the recently concluded World War II. The allegations could do nothing to the maverick leader, who had become a cult figure of sorts in pre-Independence London with his oratory at Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park. Menon’s blazing political career ended only in the wake of India’s humiliation at the hands of China in 1962, when he contributed to the disastrous conduct of the war as the Defence Minister.

The brave new world of retail violence

The Hindu March 2, 2016

It may be a sheer coincidence that actor Sanjay Dutt, convicted for possessing an AK-56 rifle in 1993, was released from jail on the same day last week when a European Union-commissioned study said a large number of improvised explosives of the Islamic State (IS) contained many Indian components. However, there is an underlying commonality behind the two developments – of the actor obtaining an AK-56 for self-defence and the IS finding Indian detonators, detonating cord, and safety fuses in 2015-16 along the Syria-Iraq stretch. Both the incidents help understand the flourishing of the underground arms bazaar across continents in the intervening period.