Tarmak007 -- A bold blog on Indian defence: Long Live Tejas; Merry X'mas Antony!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Long Live Tejas; Merry X'mas Antony!

By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
Bangalore: India's longest serving Defence Minister A K Antony couldn't have asked for a better Christmas gift when his 'problem child' Tejas was cleared for admission to the military school run by the Indian Air Force (IAF). As the guardian of Tejas, Antony himself admitted that only the semifinals stage has been cleared, reminding the makers of Tejas that there's some more formalities they need to finish, before completing the 'admission' process.
A master of playing to the gallery, Antony did the politician's role perfectly, ensuring thunderous applause to everything he said. “Proud moment for India; Great day for IAF; Buy Indian, Make Indian; Import is our last priority; Don't put all the money in bank; spent on R&D...,” his flawless phrases got the audience behind him. And, the breaking news of the day: Tejas gets second initial operational clearance.
Every speaker during the Friday's event earmarked a major chunk of their time to praise “Honourable Raksha Mantriji.' “You are the guiding force Sir; You gave us encouragement Sir; You stood by us rock solid Sir; You made it possible; You did it; You, you, you...” Antony's restless PR managers too ensured that the post-event press conference was wound-up quickly, leaving no time time for the media to fire their 'missiles.' Every query at the press meet was dismissed within minutes, leaving nothing substantial to report.
So what makes Antony truly a Tejas man? In the last couple of years, Antony received maximum queries from his ministerial colleagues and flak from the media for the delay in two projects – MBT Arjun and Tejas. “Despite all the negative publicity Tejas got, the defence minister stood by us. He never made any negative remarks on the programme. Never there was any fund crunch for Tejas, despite some objections from the Finance Ministry. He tolerated us every time we failed to deliver on time. There were many occasions he was criticised by own cabinet colleagues,” says a senior scientist, part of the Tejas project.
Team Tejas terms the developments in the last six months as most crucial. “We missed the IOC-2 event which was earlier scheduled in September. The defence minister started separate review of Tejas, along with every major stakeholder in the programme. We could see a very personal touch to everything he did during these reviews,” an official from DRDO said. “The constant question was when he Tejas gong to come. And, what was causing the delay? And, he was aware that the IAF would never accept a fighter sacrificing the safety,” he added.
Finally, it was definitely Antony's day. He even got an extra bouquet from an event management girl, who by mistake presented him with a second one, instead of giving it to the man sitting next to him.
When the Lady Luck smiles at you; grab them all!
Copyright@The New Indian Express

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