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MAJ. GEN. CHOUDARY: I can't increase my product range. See, the logistics problems are going to be there. After all this gadget is going to be with us for the next 15 years. Right? The maintenance support for next 15 years is going to be very heavy, when you have four-five items of same product. Same product; four-five different items.
TEHELKA: Okay. I see, I see.

MAJ. GEN. CHOUDARY: You see, so we have already gone in, and bought all this from them. About 400 odd systems against a requirement of about 1,200.
TEHELKA: Okay.

MAJ. GEN. CHOUDARY: You suggest you got something, I will say 'yes' or 'no'.
TEHELKA: It's that Tank-based navigation system.

MAJ. GEN. CHOUDARY: Hmm?
TEHELKA: That tank navigation system.

MAJ. GEN. CHOUDARY: Yeah?
TEHELKA: You need it?
MAJ. GEN. CHOUDARY: Yes.

MAJ. GEN. MURGAI: See, I suggest one thing. What you do is, first, you should know your product profile.
TEHELKA: No, that I will show, that I will give you the...product profile and everything.

TEHELKA: Sir, tank...tank navigation. Tank navigation system you require?
MAJ. GEN. CHOUDARY: See tank navigation system already...HAL [Hindustan Aeronautics Limited], ECIL [Electronics Corporation of India Limited] and BEL [Bharat Electronics Limited] are supposed to do this.
TEHELKA: Okay.

MAJ. GEN. CHOUDARY: Right? So anybody who comes to me, I tell them, "Please go and speak to our officer."
TEHELKA: About T-90 tanks? About T-90?

MAJ. GEN. CHOUDARY: Whether it is T-90, it is any tank a land navigation system is required.
TEHELKA: Okay.

MAJ. GEN. CHOUDARY: Now which source we get it…because we give in to our PSUs [Public Sector Undertakings]. They were supposed to have offered it to us for trials two years ago. Unfortunately, the sanctions came in.

*  *  *

General Choudary departs with his gift and gives a time to West End for a second meeting next week. Murgai asks whether West End is happy?

MAJ. GEN. MURGAI: So…you are happy with the…?
TEHELKA: Okay, fine. Sir, earlier he was very strict. Like that…like that.

MAJ. GEN. MURGAI: It has to be. When you want to be…she has to be strict.
Otherwise…
TEHELKA: Then he opened…he accepted my gift also.
MAJ. GEN. MURGAI: Yeah, very good.

TEHELKA: Sir, this 25,000 [rupees].
MAJ. GEN. MURGAI: Okay. That's good

[Tehelka journalist offers the money]


TEHELKA: Then I will go to…Sunday I will go to his home.
MAJ.GEN. MURGAI: First he said…

TEHELKA: He will not allow me to turn away like that.
MAJ. GEN. MURGAI: If he doesn't say anything, then how will you let him know? You wouldn't have…. See, I told you one thing…

TEHELKA: Sir, I was not here that time to talk this matter.
MAJ. GEN. MURGAI: Yes.

TEHELKA: What he said?
MAJ. GEN. MURGAI: I said, "Yaar, if you want to take it, take it. It's open. Otherwise, let's close the chapter."

TEHELKA: What he said?
MAJ. GEN. MURGAI: He said, "Okay, I have taken it."

TEHELKA: What I've given that small gift, I want to know what his response. Otherwise, bloody he will refuse it. That is confirmed. He will take the money, he will accept it, he will give the order also. Now we need a political…

*  *  *

At General Choudary's house in Lodi Gardens he explains why it would be a problem to order a trial evaluation for West End's products. First of all, West End hadn't entered the fray when the selections for the trials were taking place. Secondly, Choudary had said 'No' to evaluation trials for a French company called Sagem even though it had come recommended by the Defence Secretary. Sagem, incidentally, has a product far superior to anybody else. General Choudary's dilemma was what reason to show a green signal for West End when very recently he had put his foot down for the evaluation trials of HHTs from other companies. Of course, Choudary also accepts a cash incentive of Rs. 1 lakh with more promised for the future.

TEHELKA: Yes.
MAJ. GEN. CHOUDARY (Using his hands to express himself throughout his talk.): Basic issue is…
TEHELKA: Yeah.

MAJ. GEN. CHOUDARY: Had you entered into the fray earlier…
TEHELKA: No.

MAJ. GEN. CHOUDARY: …when we had done the selections? You hadn't. So the basic problem is, when you buy a thing…and along with that thing you also got some sort of technology…
TEHELKA: Okay.

MAJ. GEN. CHOUDARY: It is difficult to change your mind.
TEHELKA: Okay.

MAJ. GEN. CHOUDARY: See, the Israelis… same gadget you are offering, we have already bought from the Israelis. We have bought about 200 from the Israelis, 200 from the French.
TEHELKA: Okay.

MAJ. GEN. CHOUDARY: The French was a kind of a hiccup because of bargaining.
TEHELKA: Okay, okay.

MAJ. GEN. CHOUDARY: But we had already taken a limited technology. That means…technology means, upto component level. And in all electronics if you have the component level technology, you can buy the same components in the world market and fabricate the damn thing.
TEHELKA: Okay. I got it.

MAJ. GEN. CHOUDARY: It means, the technology is assembling from completely knocked down -CKD.
TEHELKA: Okay.

MAJ. GEN. CHOUDARY: Which is component level.
TEHELKA: Okay.

MAJ. GEN. CHOUDARY: Like…you already own 10 cars…and all 10 cars are of same type. And suddenly you want to go in for the 11th from somewhere else, or 11th and 20th from somewhere else…it's a problem. This is the…that's why I said, "Don't talk about this system, talk about something else." What you…what you're….
TEHELKA: Sir, what more we can…(laughs)…Sir, you are not being frank with me.

MAJ. GEN. CHOUDARY: This is you see…Defence deals are such…lot of paperwork is done beforehand.
TEHELKA: Yeah.

*  *  *

Choudary admits there are companies who can provide cheaper and better HHTs than the ones they have evaluated. The general admits that Sagem, with its better technology was vetoed inspite of being recommended by the Defence Secretary. Choudary also asks West End to tie-up with the public sector ECIL.

MAJ. GEN. CHOUDARY: But, as I know that this particular Gen 3 technology, Sagem is far superior to anybody in the world. See there are…I don't know if you understand technicalities, this is based on an infra-red…
TEHELKA: Oh, yeah, okay, yeah, yeah.

*  *  *

   
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