India still continues be the world's largest arms importer even as China ups capability to make advanced weapons to be part of the top 5 largest exporters in the world.
India continues to be the topmost importer of arms in the world accounting for 12% of the total import share of the world between 2013-17, a Stockholm-based think tank report says. India’s overall imports increased by 24% between 2008-12 and 2013-17 and Russia accounted for 62% of India’s arms imports in 2013-17, reported Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). India is followed by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates and China, which form the top 5 importers of arms in the world. But, China also forms part of the top 5 largest exporters in the world with USA, Russia, France and Germany. The report disturbingly notes that China is becoming “increasingly capable of producing its own advanced weapons”. Despite being among the top 5 arms importers, China’s arms imports actually decreased by 19% between 2008–12 and 2013–17.
The report also suggested that India was diversifying the source of its arsenal with increasing strategic partnership with the USA. The USA has also been supplying India with advanced military equipment like Long range maritime patrol aircraft, strategic transport aircraft etc. Israel was also one among the exporters whose share to India has increased by 285%, said the SIPRI report.
China is the top supplier of arms to Pakistan, with the latter’s import of arms amounting to 45% of its total share. According to the report the trend in arms imports in South Asia is still dominated by Indo-Pak tensions. Both countries were among the top 10 arms importers in 2013–17, the report notes. However, the think tank adds that, “Despite its continuing tensions with India and ongoing internal conflicts”, Pakistan’s imports fell by 36% between 2008-12 and 2013-17, with the country accounting for 2.8% of global arms imports in the last five years”. SIPRI report also observes USA’s growing interest in Asia analysing its policy reforms to compete with China. While the share of the USA’s exports to India has exponentially grown by 557%, its share to Pakistan has been on a decline.
The global tender for more fighter jets might be on cards and assuring words by Defence Minister during at the Ammo India 2018 event might have boosted the morale of the ‘Make in India’ initiative but, India still finds itself grappling to fully indigenise defence industry. MoS Defence Subhash Bhamre has himself told the Lok Sabha that the country has just attracted FDI of amount $0.18 million in the defence industry sector from April 2014 to December 2017. The dismal figure and the fact that India continues to be the largest importer of arms in the world should be a definite wake-up call for the government.