Death of acquisitions man makes system nervous

By SP's Special Correspondent

October 07, 2013: The tragic death of Ministry of Defence (MoD) Joint Secretary (Acquisitions) Arun Kumar Bal last week has been unanimously mourned as a deep loss to the Defence Ministry. Bal, who was intensely involved with all aspects of the acquisition process, is considered to have been more abreast of each process than any other bureaucrat, and, as such, his death leaves a measure of uncertainty over the timelines of purchases as well. "Our thoughts and condolences are with Bal's family first. We hope they find the strength to get over this tragic loss," said the country head of a top military contractor whose pending deal Bal was overseeing. "He was a positive-minded and professional individual with a no-nonsense attitude towards acquisitions for his country," he said, a view unanimous among executives with foreign firms who had a chance to interact with Bal.

Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne too mourned the loss of Bal, stating that it was a major setback to programmes, including the medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA), given that Bal had unmatched knowledge of the programme and the process, and that it would take at least three-four months for his successor to be brought up to speed on the status of the acquisition.