It is a well accepted dictum in the corridors of MoD that not taking a decision is far less risky than taking one. Therefore, it is considered judicious to defer decision-making. Additionally, it also helps in masking functionaries’ own incompetence and inadequacies, as one has to be knowledgeable to decide one way or the other.
Some of the common ploys used are as follows:-
- The simplest is to seek comments from the maximum number of people; howsoever remotely they may be connected with the case. In common jargon it is called ‘putting a case in orbit’, implying thereby that the case would take months before it returns to the sender’s table. At that stage the case can easily be returned to the initiating directorate to incorporate fresh inputs as considerable time would have elapsed since previous initiation.
- Keep the case pending till pressure becomes unbearable and then send it back under the specious plea of needing some innocuous information. Additional information is sought in a piecemeal manner to prolong the process. Such antics can carry on endlessly with enormous resultant delays.
- Ask the initiator of the case to link all previous files relating to equipment of same genre even remotely connected with the current case. Thereafter, an innocuous difference between earlier projections and the current proposal is dug out. It is highlighted to seek justification and reconciliation. The whole case gets sidetracked with non-issues acquiring predominance. Another way is to refer the case to the higher authorities at every stage as ‘a matter of abundant caution’. There have been instances of a procurement case being put up to the Cabinet Committee for Security (CCS) at five different occasions, whereas a single reference for comprehensive sanction could have saved months, if not years. Every single reference to CCS can take up to 6 months due to its preoccupation with more pressing national security concerns. Even if CCS approves a detailed proposal for a package, procurement case for each separate item is again referred to it in a piecemeal manner.