Existing defence budget enough to maintain preparedness: Army Chief Bipin Rawat

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New Delhi | Published: March 29, 2018 1:34:41 PM

The Standing Committee on Defence gave out its 41st report based on the testimonies of Vice-Chiefs of the armed forces. The report had noted that the budget allocation was not adequate to meet the requirements of the armed forces.

Army chief General Bipin Rawat speaks on immigration in North East from BangladeshArmy Chief Bipin Rawat reassures by saying that Army will readjust and reprioritise the existing budget. (Photo for representation only)

Chief of Army Staff General Bipin Rawat has said that the Indian Army can maintain preparedness and its active operational activities within the budget that has been allocated for the armed forces. He also asserted that the modernisation of Indian armed forces was in the process and that it would take time to be up to date. The statement by the Army Chief comes just a few weeks after the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence submitted its report. The report had highlighted the need for an expansive budget for defence forces. The Standing Committee had reported that while China and Pakistan are modernising their arsenal, India lacks the required budget to cater to needs of the defence forces. It also suggested that the possibility of a two-front war being a reality.

The Standing Committee on Defence gave out its 41st report based on the testimonies of Vice-Chiefs of the armed forces. The report had noted that the budget allocation was not adequate to meet the requirements of the armed forces. A total of Rs 21,338 crore was allocated for the purposes of modernisation. The committee headed by Maj Gen (retd) B.C Khanduri had said that there was a shortfall of Rs 6,440 crore in revenue budget of the Indian Air Force as well. All in all, the rise in the defence budget for this fiscal year was just a mere 7.81 percent. The defence budget had risen from last year’s Rs 2,74,000 crore to Rs 2,95,000 crore.

Though efforts are being made by the Defence Ministry and the External Affairs Ministry, a tense situation of continues to simmer on the border areas of China and Pakistan. Yesterday, addressing the Lok Sabha, MoS Defence Subash Bhamre had also said that the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy have been facing a shortage of pilots. He said, “There is a shortage of 274 pilots put together. However, the available strength in the IAF is sufficient to meet the current operational requirements”. The MoS Defence also admitted that, apart from the existing issues, there was also a shortage of equipment for Indian troops on UN peacekeeping missions in Congo and South Sudan.

While CoAS Bipin Rawat said that the army can maintain preparedness within the allocated budget, but he also said that the army would have been happier if they were allocated more budget. Rawat said, “We can balance the budget to meet our operational requirements”. With lack of manpower in certain divisions and with inadequate funds to modernise, Indian armed forces are under immense pressure, suggested the Standing Committee report. But, General Bipin Rawat reassured by saying that it was possible to reprioritise the budget with the already existing funds. He gave importance to the need for addressing the operational preparedness and term it as a high priority. He also said that the army’s priority was infantry weapons, radar devices and other small arms. Recently, the Defence Ministry had also called for a tender to procure assault rifles, CQBR carbines and light machine guns. “The requirements of air defence systems, artillery will be taken up later to balance the budget”, he added.

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