The dual responsibilities of defense minister and finance minister handed to Arun Jaitley has given short shrift to India’s Defence Ministry, and the quick decisions anticipated on weapons procurement have not been forthcoming, said defense analysts assessing the Narendra Modi government’s first 100 days.
The new government so far has simply continued the defense policies of the previous regime, analysts and military officers said.
“The part-time defense minister is one of the most inexplicable oversights,” analyst Nitin Mehta said. “It gives too little time to Jaitley to address the MoD, saddled as he is with the task of economic revival. Without a full-time defense minister, the Modi government will not be able to recover from the ‘lost decade’ of the previous defense ministry under A.K. Antony.”
Analyst Venkataraman Mahalingam is even more direct. “How can anyone possibly handle both the defense and finance ministries? These ministries are too important and are heavily loaded to be handled by part-time incumbents. It is not serving any purpose.”
While Jaitley is viewed as a capable minister, analysts agreed that giving him both jobs makes no sense.
“There is an urgent necessity for a stand-alone defense minister,” analyst Rahul Bhonsle said.