NEW DELHI — India’s tanks do not have enough shells to fire, its air defenses are obsolete and its ill-equipped infantry can’t fight at night, the country’s army chief told the prime minister in a letter this month, an Indian newpaper reported Wednesday.
Excerpts from the letter from army chief V.K. Singh to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were published in the Mumbai-based newspaper Daily News & Analysis. The revelations prompted condemnation of both the government and the army among lawmakers, who demanded the army chief’s immediate dismissal over the letter’s publication and other incidents and accused the government of neglecting national security.
An embarrassed A.K. Antony, India’s defense minister, confirmed to Parliament on Wednesday that V.K. Singh had sent the letter and pledged to “protect every inch of our motherland” by speeding up steps to modernize the country’s million-man army.
Amid tensions with neighboring China and Pakistan, India has shopped aggressively for weapons in recent years in an effort to transform what has long been a corrupt and bureaucratic force into a lean, lethal army fit for 21st-century warfare. A Swedish research group said this month that between 2007 and 2011, the country had emerged as the world’s largest weapons importer.