Maj Gen S.G.Vombatkere (Retd)
475, 7th Main Road
Vijayanagar 1st Stage
E-mail: <firstname.lastname@example.org>; LL: 0821-2515187
Shri Manohar Parrikar
104, Raksha Mantri, Government of India
Shri Subhash Ramrao Bhamre
114-A, Raksha Rajya Mantri, Government of India
104, South Block
Shri G.Mohan Kumar, IAS (or present incumbent)
Secretary, Raksha Mantralaya, Government of India
101-A, South Block
Subject: Strategic Disinvestment of Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML)
I am given to understand that Government of India (GoI) Ministry of Defence (MoD) holds 54% equity in BEML, which is one of India’s “navratna” industries with considerable business in defence production. I am further given to understand that MoD proposes to disinvest 26% of equity in BEML, leaving only 28% with MoD, by strategic sale with management control vesting in the business entity which purchases 26% equity.
BEML is well known as a competitive, profit-making PSU with over 50 years of experience, engaged in design, development and manufacture of defence sector requirements like special purpose trucks, armoured recovery vehicles, etc., aerospace components and missile components (e.g., Prithvi missile launchers), and a variety of sophisticated heavy earth-moving equipment (bulldozers, excavators, dumpers, etc.) which is the mainstay for our nation’s mining and construction industries, Indian Railways and transportation, and the energy industry. I will not provide an exhaustive list of BEML products because you are undoubtedly aware of them, but suffice it to say that BEML’s array of products is a vital component of India’s independence and self-reliance in national defence and security.
BEML has been conferred with the “Raksha Mantri’s Award for Excellence” for best performance in exports, and “National Award for Import Substitution”, besides at least 20 other awards over the years. Along with other “navratna” PSUs, BEML is an icon of India’s growing self-reliance in the vital defence sector. Thus, BEML is a respected profit-making PSU under MoD’s control.
In view of the foregoing, there appears to be little justification for the proposed “strategic disinvestment” of 26% equity in BEML. On the other hand, such disinvestment will reduce India’s self-reliance in the defence sector (and other core sectors) and increase dependence on private business entities for national security. It will place vital manufacture in the hands of private entities which are primarily profit-based, not above colluding with foreign business interests which are against India’s security, and raising the cost of products which will adversely affect the defence budget and defence preparedness. Disinvestment will constitute a strategic disaster, make mockery of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s declared aim of “Make in India”, and will actually be a case of selling off India’s strategic independence and sovereignty.
I therefore earnestly and strongly urge you to urgently reconsider the economically and financially ill-advised disinvestment of equity in BEML, so that MoD retains strategic control of BEML, and immediately scrap the disinvestment proposal in the best interest of the defence, security and sovereignty of our country.
Finally, I request that if the e-mail ID of any addressee is in error, those who do receive this Open e-letter please pass it on to the other addressees, and also kindly send me (<email@example.com>) a simple acknowledgement of having received this e-mail.
(Maj Gen S.G.Vombatkere (Retd))