Revelations of France’s judicial investigations into alleged corruption in the deal for Rafale fighter aircraft raise fresh questions about the opaque and inefficient manner in which international defence deals are negotiated in India. The Rafale controversy is the latest of a series of international defence purchases that have been questioned for lack of probity. The Bofors field gun, of course, remains an infamous example of this systemic malady, but the serial controversies that erupt over Indian defence deals urgently call for a re-evaluation of negotiating procedures and disclosures.
The Rafale deal reflects these weaknesses. The medium multi-role aircraft from Dassault had been initially shortlisted after competitive bidding against five European and US competitors in 2012 under the United Progressive Alliance.