South Asia and Beyond

‘Parrikar Knew The Stakes And The Risks But Was Never Deterred’

NEW DELHI: Simple though not a simpleton! There could be many ways to describe the late Manohar Parrikar, former defence minister and chief minister of Goa, but author and journalist Nitin A. Gokhale has a particular preference for those words, given his close relationship with the man widely credited with transforming an inefficient, hidebound and scandal-ridden Ministry of Defence.

In his book ‘Manohar Parrikar: Brilliant Mind, Simple Life’ released recently, Gokhale acknowledges his relationship with Parrikar was short, a little over two years, but it was intense, the two bonding over Marathi, beer and fish-rice. Parrikar also needed somebody who understood the working of the defence ministry but was outside it and, therefore, not party to the intrigues that went on. Gokhale’s intimate knowledge of the armed forces also helped.

It’s hardly surprising, therefore, that perhaps the most interesting part of the book is the chapter dealing with Parrikar’s tenure as defence minister. Gokhale credits him with three successes: resolving the One Rank One Pay issue, procurement of 36 Rafale jets from France and persuading the air force brass to buy the LCA Tejas in numbers, and greenlighting the 2016 surgical strike on Pakistan after the Uri attack.

There’s more in the book about Parrikar the administrator, his RSS background, and the IIT-education that made him the rare technocrat in a sea of lacklustre politicians. The book also gives glimpses into his family, his entrepreneur ambitions and his unshakeable integrity. Follow the conversation on ‘Books Corner’.

 

 

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