A SENIOR Indian Navy officer has been sacked for having sexual relations with a Russian woman in Moscow as head of the Indian team overseeing the refit of aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov there. Commodore Sukhjinder Singh was posted in Moscow between 2005 to 2007 as the Indian warship production superintendent to oversee Gorshkov’s refit when he developed the illicit relationship with the woman. Indian Defence Minister A K Antony has confirmed the media that the officer will be sacked. Singh, who has at least two years of service left, will have to immediately pack his bags. The Daily Mail has learnt that Singh’s affair was exposed in April 2010, three years after his posting in Russia when his explicit pictures with the woman were brought to the notice of the Defence Ministry. Soon after receiving the pictures, the Navy had ordered a Court Of Inquiry (CoI) against him to establish his relations with the woman and whether the relationship had affected the Admiral Gorshkov deal in any way. The CoI had established Singh’s relations with the woman but maintained that his “loose moral conduct” had not” adversely impacted” India’s position during the long-drawn wrangling with Russia over the 44,570-tonne carrier’s refit. After completing its inquiry, the Navy had sent the file to the Defence Ministry for further action. Even after returning from Russia, Singh had continued to be associated with the Gorshkov programme as the principal director (aircraft carrier project) in New Delhi till mid-2009. He was later relieved of his posting in the defence ministry’s directorate-general of quality assurance. After repeated Russian demands for higher prices for retrofitting the aircraft carrier, the two sides last year finally settled on USD 2.33 billion as the cost of the warship. The Daily Mail believes that the retrofitting of Admiral Gorshkov has been unnecessarily delayed because of Commodore Singh’s illicit sexual prowess.The Daily Mail observes that this is not the first case of its kind in Indian armed forces. An increasing number of cases of corruption within the rank and file of the Indian forces are coming to the fore. Be it the eloping of a colonel with his girlfriend, a lieutenant general accused of sexual harassment by a female colleague or high ranking officers found to be involved in land scams, the already tarnished image of the Indian forces is taking a further beating. The flurry of media reports about officers of the Indian armed forces getting involved in acts of moral turpitude, deception and treachery has caused much consternation among its masses. What is incredible is that it’s not just the lower rank officers whose name crop up in connection with corruption, moral or financial.
It’s the officers of the colonel, brigadier and lieutenant general ranks whose names come up in cases of debauchery and swindles. A.K. Nanda and Avadesh Prakash, both lieutenant generals, are the most recent and well-known examples. The question is, if Indian armed forces are getting increasingly corrupt by the day or is it just that now such cases have started coming into the public domain, thanks to an aggressive and prowling media? Tehelka.com answers that question stating that incidents of abuse of authority, misuse of privileges, cases of moral turpitude and other forms of misdemeanour by senior officers are not a purely recent phenomenon. They did take place earlier. But they were few and far between, aberrations. In recent years, many more cases seem to be occurring within the Indian Army: first, degradation of values in society; second, rampant corruption within sections of the political classes and civilian bureaucracy, and the unwillingness or inability of the establishment to take corrective action; third, the scope provided by the size of the Indian army, and opportunities afforded by the resources that accrue both as public and regimental funds. But the most important factor that has led to the decline in moral values within the Indian army is the ‘five-star’ culture that has set in over the past few years. Where lavish hospitality and expensive gifts are proffered to, and accepted with some alacrity by, senior officers and even their wives (for which the ubiquitous Army Wives Welfare Association is a convenient vehicle). Indian defence planners thus have their work cut out to stem the rot – Dailymailnews