India is a country where there has time and again been a lack of adequate funds for the upgradation of armed forces weapons. Yet, Sweden based think tank, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has come out with a report on global military spending, in which India features among the top five defence spenders in the world! As of 2017, India’s defence spending has increased by 5.5 per cent amounting to a total of $63.9 billion. The report suggested that India stood fifth in the list after US, China, Saudi and Russia. The total defence spending of the world stands at $1739 billion with a marginal increase of 1.1 per cent since 2016. However, the list of world’s largest military spenders has remained consistent over the years with the US topping the list.
The defence spending of India which has increased by 5.5 per cent has put behind countries like France, U.K. and Japan. Earlier reports had also suggested that India was also the largest importer of arms in the world. Despite being on the top of defence spenders and importers list, India still does not have the adequate budget required to modernise its arsenal. An IDSA paper titled ‘India’s Defence Budget 2017-18: An Analysis, suggests that, out of the total defence expenditure, 42 per cent goes to pay and allowance, 40 per cent goes to modernisation & stores and rest 18 per cent is used of other expenses of the defence forces.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had allocated Rs 3,59,894 crore to the Defence Ministry in this year’s budget session. The issue of inadequate defence budget had been raised repeatedly by several officials in defence services. Vice Chief of Army Staff also told the Parliamentary committee that the defence had “dashed their hopes”. Vice Chief of Army Staff Lt General Sarath Chand also went on record to term 65 per cent of the arms with India to be in “Vintage Category”.
The increase in world expenditure and especially defence spending in the Asia and West Asia is due to increasing security issues in the region. Experts suggest that with respect to India, the growing border tensions with China, and with issues of terrorism and a cross-border threat from Pakistan, has resulted in increased defence spending in India. Nevertheless, reports from the parliamentary committee and several other expert groups continue to question the lack of funds being allocated for defence purposes.
Data from the report suggests that China is the largest defence spender in Asia. The military expenditure of China has increased from 5.8 per cent in 2008 to 13 per cent in 2017. As compared to last year, China has increased its spending from 5.6 per cent. A total of $228 billion of defence spending has placed China second on the top spenders’ table. While India is very close to Russia’s expenditure, the latter’s spending has sharply fallen. The report says that, at $66.3 per cent, the share of Russia’s defence expenditure has fallen by 20 per cent as compared to last year. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, has increased its spending by 9.2 per cent, amounting to $69.4 billion.