Friday, August 27, 2010

Frustrated ST Kinetics Waits For Guns To Cool

"There comes a time when frustration takes its toll. It's come to a point where I wonder about ST Kinetics being driven out of the Indian market by frustration. We are a public listed company with shareholders we are accountable to. We cannot simply continue with something that appears like a blackhole."

Telling words, spoken by Brigadier General Patrick Choy, Chief Marketing Officer at Singaporean gun maker ST Kinetics, and the man who leads the company's activities in India. I had a brief Thursday morning meeting with Gen Choy, in which he detailed the weird limbo his team currently languishes in, following news that his company had been recommended for a blacklist.

A few days ago, Gen Choy's team received instructions from the Indian Army asking them to remove their iFH-2000 towed howitzer from the Pokhran field firing range in Rajasthan, a formality following the shock scrapping of India's towed gun tender in July. Not officially on the Indian government blacklist yet -- but nevertheless, possibly just a step away from it -- the company has, ironically, received the new towed gun RFI, and even plans to respond. Whether they fly their gun out of India, or store it away in Gwalior (where their Pegasus light-weight howitzer also lies stored, incidentally) hoping for the best is a call they'll soon take. But what weighs on their minds is something much heavier -- the circumstances of the blacklist.

Significantly, it turns out, the team that authored the recent Indian audit report (that details the OFB-ST Kinetics interface on the close-quarter carbine episode with the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs), may not have had the opportunity (big question: how come?) to study all relevant documents and agreements that appear to have existed between the two entities. For instance, some -- including an April 2008 MoU detailing phased offsets and work-share -- appear to refute or at least rebutt suggestions in the audit report that the OFB and ST Kinetics had done no homework on how they planned to build carbines together before the former approached the Indian Home Ministry with an offer. More details here.

For now, however, as Gen Choy put it, it's a blackhole. That's a sentiment that should ring familiar to a lot of folks out there trying to push weapons into India.

Framegrab Courtesy Manu Sood/8ak


NJS said...

ST should follow american ways, needed some pressure from the govt of Singapore,
is their is a will their will be way .

Gautam said...

People keep demonising the arms industry and moaning about how foreigners want to profiteer by selling weapons to India, but no one considers how things may seem from their side. Personally I feel sorry for all the wastage of time, money and effort these people suffer as a result of the craptacular defence bureacracy in India; it reflects rather poorly on our country.

The armed forces may express interest and even approach the vendors with good intentions, but the bureaucrats wield all the real power and mire everything in a sea of inefficiency, red tape and bribery.

-Firms are warned against kickbacks by the same babus and netas who secretly demand bribes at every stage.

-Deals can be postponed indefinitely or cancelled at any stage at the whims of any party, neta, babu or even DRDO head.

-Firms get blacklisted on the flimsiest evidence without a proper trial or investigation even as politicians with hundreds of pending criminal cases sit in parliament and vote to blacklist them. Defence firms have to take a leap of faith and invest time and money into something that may go up in flames at any moment for any reason.

-To add insult to injury, in the end it is only the nation and the Armed Forces that suffers. The crooks who took the bribes and manipulated the deals rarely get caught, let alone convicted. Life goes on as usual for those sub-human scum who populate the Defence Ministry and care nothing for national defence.

But then again, that's what is the case in all ministries. No progress, only propaganda, motivational speeches and scams. The UPA is on a wholly different level from the NDA! More scams, more abuse of power, more wealthy and crooked netas, more taxes, more starving poor, more black money etc. Good choice, Indian janata!

AK said...

Congress threw 28,000 crore rupees down the drain in Congress Wealth Games. That's the only thing that they are interested in. Safety of the country, what's that.

Anonymous said...

r we going to defend ourself with RFI and RFP documents that are floating around with none materialized