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TEHELKA: Has it happened to you before?
MAJ. S.J. SINGH: Why not? So that's why we are very cautious about…. When we handle the subject, we handle it at the appropriate level. To start with, associate them right from the beginning…word 'go'. So the…the meter, as I say, is down from the moment the word 'go'.
TEHELKA: Okay.

*  *  *

Needless to say, all this has a deeper significance. For in the lobby of
the five-star hotel we are in, Major Singh has Major General Satnam
Singh (GOC), infantry chief of the Drass-Kargil sector in Jammu &
Kashmir, based in Nimu, waiting for us. The General is on leave and an
old friend of Major Singh. Under infantry chief Major General Shankar
Prasad, he will be responsible for the trials of the HHTs. The infantry
was already conducting trials for Thomson-CSF and El-Op. Major Singh,
indeed, was all for involving the top brass from the very beginning.

TEHELKA [to Satnam Singh]: How long will the evaluation trials take, like…the Thomson and the El-Op?
MAJ. GEN. SATNAM SINGH: See, we can't be very specific about it. It is based on the type of equipment we have…you know, like, if you are dealing with these Image Intensifiers, they take much shorter time, than probably a weapon system will take. Because, you know, it depends upon what are you trying to see.

*  *  *

TEHELKA: But…it's everything is eventually returned, obviously.
MAJ. GEN. SATNAM SINGH: Yes, obviously.
TEHELKA: Yes.

MAJ. GEN. SATNAM SINGH: All the equipment…it's all in the understanding. All the equipment that comes for trial is basically of the firm. If they give it to us, then it all goes back.
TEHELKA: Yeah, at no-cost and…
MAJ. GEN. SATNAM SINGH: So, you carry on trials, see your performances that have been identified by the company. See what we need. We either say 'yes', or we say 'no'. Or we give, ki all right, if you can…if the company can give us what we need. Because some people have the capability to modify the equipment and things.
TEHELKA: Yeah.

[Pause]

TEHELKA: What is the kind of…biggest problem you are facing with them…if at all? Weight?
MAJ. GEN. SATNAM SINGH: Problems, in what way?

TEHELKA: Weight? Bulk performance…?
MAJ. GEN. SATNAM SINGH: With what?

TEHELKA: The hand-held….
MAJ. GEN. SATNAM SINGH: The imager?
TEHELKA: Yeah.

MAJ. GEN. SATNAM SINGH: No, it's the quality of image that counts. And, also the other criteria is the portability. You see, if it is going to be a hand-held Image Intensifier, it should be something that doesn't add too much of weight.
TEHELKA: Yeah, yeah. Obviously, obviously. That's where we score. Yeah.

TEHELKA [interrupting]: Are you happy with the evaluation of the other equipment that has come up so far? Thomson and El-Op?
MAJ. GEN. SATNAM SINGH: It's…it's…it's not been fully accepted as such. It has still to come to my area for trials.

TEHELKA: Okay. And this one, El-Op?
MAJ. GEN. SATNAM SINGH: El-Op has also not come to me. They're still at the lower levels. Trials are going on.

TEHELKA: Lower levels meaning?
MAJ. GEN. SATNAM SINGH: Means the plains…
LT. COL. BERRY: Terrain-wise…terrains.

MAJ. GEN. SATNAM SINGH: But they still have to move up to my area.
TEHELKA: Okay.

MAJ. GEN. SATNAM SINGH: To the high altitude trials. So we haven't really filed them off. So I can't give you an opinion on that at all.
TEHELKA: Okay.

MAJ. GEN. SATNAM SINGH: But yes, we have feedbacks of the trials of the desert region. There are some problems there in that portion.
TEHELKA: Okay.

*  *  *

The West End President Alvin D'Souza lets his imagination loose, highlighting thereby how incredibly casual and callous critical defence purchases have become. He talks about how they could introduce an audio factor in the HHTs.

TEHELKA: What we can do in ours, which is very rare, is that we can put in movement locators. So immediately there's human movement, there will be a beep that goes off.
MAJ. GEN. SATNAM SINGH: Yeah, it's something like the Battlefield Service Radars.
TEHELKA: Yeah.

MAJ. GEN. SATNAM SINGH: It gives you sound…
TEHELKA: Exactly.

MAJ. GEN. SATNAM SINGH: If there's something…
TEHELKA: Yeah, you're alerted immediately, so…

LT.COL. BERRY: An alert sound comes…?
TEHELKA: Yeah. There's a beep.

*  *  *

Of course, it would be interesting if one asked General
Satnam Singh directly about the evaluation procedure.

TEHELKA: So you've been involved in the evaluation procedure earlier?
MAJ. GEN. SATNAM SINGH: Yeah, yeah.

TEHELKA: Of various products?
LT.COL BERRY [answering for Satnam Singh]: A number of times...

TEHELKA: Basically you are in the field job?
MAJ. GEN. SATNAM SINGH: Yes, I am in the operational job.

   
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