New Delhi: The army is running low on ammunition, soldiers posted to freezing places like Siachen and Leh don't have boots or mosquito nets, and India has failed for over a decade to produce an assault rifle that meets the most basic requirements of the army.
These are some of the troubling highlights revealed by Parliament's standing committee on Defence, headed by the BJP's Major General BC Khanduri. The panel has 33 members from both houses of Parliament.
Based on information supplied by the Ministry of Defence, the committee has assessed the preparedness of the army in the winter session of Parliament which ends today.
The committee, in a report submitted to Parliament, has found that soldiers in high-altitude areas are short of nearly 2 lakh pairs of ankle leather boots; more than 13 lakh canvas boots are needed in the same areas, one lakh mosquito nets are wanted, and soldiers are waiting for 65,000 Balaclavas or masks to keep their faces warm.
The committee says the Defence Ministry has failed to furnish plausible information about how many soldiers have bullet-proof jackets; the members believe that "an important life saving device has not been purchased by the Ministry jeopardizing the lives of thousands of soldiers."
The committee has voiced its concern over the fact that while the Defence Ministry seems satisfied that equipment like night vision goggles are plentiful, the army has "an altogether different view." The report offers this indictment - "it appears that the Ministry is not taking the Army into confidence while doing its perspective planning."
The report warns clearly that the shortage of ammunition means "it would not be possible for the country to sustain a war for a longer period."
The committee states that the Defence Research and Development Organization or DRDO, tasked with developing technology for the military, has failed since 1982 to produce an acceptable INSAS rifle, the standard weapon of the army .
"The Committee finds it shocking that even years of expertise has not evolved DRDO to develop world class basic product like a rifle," its report says.