This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Ranjeet Menon. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Here Are All The Questions That The Rafale Deal Raises

More from Ranjeet Menon

The last two days were baffling for me to say the least. I was shocked for a moment when I got to know that the Supreme Court has dismissed all writ petitions against the Rafale deal. There were too many aspects of the case that hadn’t even been touched in the Court yet. Wild conspiracy theories came to my mind, such as Judge Loya’s mysterious demise, PM Modi’s hobnobbing with the CJI during a dinner at SC premises and I wondered if any or all of those factors had influenced the verdict. Then I went to Twitter to check the trail of tweets regarding the case and it became evident that such a decision was made because of many reasons and a malicious one as well.

Before we go into the judgement, let us see what the case is all about. Essentially, there are two contentious issues about the deal. One is with the pricing and unprecedented increase in cost and the other is with the choice of the offset partner.

To respond to a Twitter user arguing that the Modi government was being falsely accused of hiking the price of the jets, I was forced to do the basic math and prove him wrong.

To understand the selection of the offset partner, we need to look at the fundamentals of the deal itself. The IAF is in need of modernizing its fleet of jets so with the approval of the erstwhile government in 2007, it initiated due diligence of several manufacturing companies and submitted its preferences to the government which in turn looked at pricing and other factors and decided on Rafale jets. This means it is a government contract to buy these jets from a foreign company. This contract should ideally go through the French government and to Dassault, the manufacturer of Rafale jets. A sovereign guarantee becomes relevant when the deal is between the two governments.

From the time the due diligence started, HAL was always the default offset partner because no other company in India has the expertise, experience and resources. If there were a list of such companies would have been made and their due diligence done before the Indian government would have had projected HAL to the French government and Dassault. Even after this, there were issues that HAL had to iron out with Dassault and finally a work share agreement was signed between them in 2014. If Anil Ambani’s RDL had existed in 2014 or prior to that and if it had the expertise and experience, it would have been eligible to be evaluated as the offset partner. The Modi government has been wrongly claiming all along that it is upto Dassault to choose the offset partner. Buyer is always the King so the seller will always try to go by the terms of the buyer as much as they can, especially in cases of such high profile and high worth deals. This is fundamentals of business. Dassault was given HAL as the offset partner before and they had collaborated till 2014. So replacing HAL with RDL has to be the decision of the Modi government.

Why the SC dismissed the case has many aspects to it. First of all, the court felt it was not the authority to decide on the pricing issue. Secondly, the court cited lack of evidence for the allegation that the deal was arm twisted by the Modi government to make RDL the offset partner. There wouldn’t be any documented proof to it. French ex-President Francois Hollande has already mentioned that the deal would have been a no go if Dassault hadn’t agreed to Modi government’s demand to make RDL the offset partner. The proof for it has to be interpreted from four aspects.

1) The French government has refused to give a sovereign guarantee to the Indian government. This translates to the situation where if in case of a conflict between Dassault and RDL or IAF, the French government will have the choice to not take any responsibility or be part of any arbitration. Such a decision would have been made only because of the choice of the offset partner in India because until HAL was replaced by RDL, the French government had not made the decision.

2) The completely incomprehensible and mind boggling investment that Dassault has made into a defunct Anil Ambani company. Why was such an investment made and why AFTER RDL was confirmed as the offset partner? Why invest now? Why not two years before or 10 years later? The timing is completely suspect and the investment warrants an investigation. Is that kickback money which Dassault doled out for getting the deal, which has been channeled into the company?

3) The complaint Sherpa, a French legal NGO has lodged with the National Financial Prosecutor’s office in France alleging misappropriation and corruption in the deal and asking for an investigation. This should have been submitted to the SC with the argument that the deal’s integrity is under the cloud of suspicion even in France.

4) Whether RDL has the expertise, experience and resources to be the offset partner of Dassault to manufacture and maintain the Rafale jets. The government has released an audit report this year to back up its claim of HAL not having enough expertise to be the offset partner. Why was this audit of HAL not done from 2007-2017? Why now? Its timing is again a suspect. Where is the similar audit report for RDL and the proof that RDL has the expertise and resources to be the offset partner? Dassault must have also done its due diligence on both HAL and RDL. Where are those reports?

Neither the SC judges nor eminent lawyers who have lodged the case against the deal seem to be interested in probing these points and asking pointed questions about them. These are the areas which could be used as circumstantial evidence to weave a story line and prove that Modi government forced Dassault to accept RDL as the offset partner.

The reason why the Court didn’t want to delve into the pricing aspect became evident when in the judgement the Court has mentioned that the CAG audit report of the deal has been verified and ratified by the PAC and is available in the public domain. This is part of the information that the government gave to the Court in the sealed envelope. The government itself has been delaying the CAG audit of the deal till now so there is no question of PAC even seeing the report forget ratifying it. This blatant lie of the government was called out as soon the judgement was published in the public domain. The response of the government has been even more bizarre. In its statement, it has mentioned that there is a typo error in the document and “has been” was wrongly typed instead of “will be” and it will be requesting the Court to edit the judgement to make the changes.

Simply editing the judgement of any case in itself warrants a thorough review by the relevant court. When such a situation arises in the apex court of the country against the government because of an error that could have affected the outcome of such an important case, then it becomes impossible. The judgement in itself will have to be scrapped and the case reopened.

‪What has to be noted here is the way in which the Supreme Court treated the contents of the sealed envelope as highly sensitive information when it was nothing more than misinformation. By blaming it on grammatical correction and misinterpretation the government is trying to put the onus of the flawed verdict on the Court when it is the government itself that has misguided the Court. But I believe part of the fault lies with the judges as well. A multiple bench, when constituted for a case, allows multiple judges to review the case independently so that the review can be thorough and the judgement is flawless. Here all three judges decided to take the government’s document on face value when the case was petitioned against the government itself. This doesn’t necessarily mean the judges had to be suspicious about the government. All they had to do was to check each aspect of the case thoroughly including the CAG report and verifying the government’s claim with the PAC chief.

The opposition parties are demanding for a JPC probe and in the light of the proof of the government misguiding the SC to give a skewed judgement in its favor, it would only serve to unite them and their voice would grow louder now that general elections are just a stone’s throw away. The situation can be easily diffused by the government by changing the offset partner. But it is the autocratic and obstinate nature of Modi and Amit Shah because of which they are clouding the minds of people and even that of judges of the SC with their blatant lies and deception. Why are they backing Ambani with their lives? They are piling on one lie on top of another to protect Ambani and itself from getting exposed. Looks like it is going to get choked between the devil, which is the case in the SC and the deep sea, which is the opposition’s demand for JPC and an aggressive PAC.

You must be to comment.

More from Ranjeet Menon

Similar Posts

By Simran Pavecha

By Jeet

By Ritwik Trivedi

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below