The Indian armed forces expect the Union Budget 2019, to be announced on July 5, to provide more money to modernise and upgrade the country’s defence establishment amidst ever-increasing global and internal challenges.
Fuelling this hope is the fact that the newly-appointed Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was in charge of the defence ministry in her last role and therefore, she would be well aware of the challenges and requirements of the forces.
The defence budget has increased nearly doubled in the last five years, the first term of the Narendra Modi government. But the money was still not enough to upgrade the weapons because the lion’s share of the allocation for the ministry of defence (MoD) goes into paying salaries and pensions.
The Indian army has the largest share in the defence budget, more than half. Second in the list comes that Indian Air Force followed by the navy, DRDO and ordnance factories.
INDIA’S GLOBAL RANK ::
In 2018, India became the fourth largest military spender in the world, with the United States of America, China and Saudi Arabia ahead in the list and France at the fifth spot.
Global military expenditure also grew 2.6 % to $1.8 trillion in 2018 compared to a year earlier, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). India’s defence allocation grew 6.5% in the year ending March 2019.
Geopolitical tensions are rising around the world- tensions between the US and Iran, simmering conflict in the South China sea, the constantly volatile middle east, and last but not the least India’s own conflict with Pakistan and the threats from China, make the modernisation of India’s military necessary.
Vintage Weapons ::
In 2018, the then Vice Chief of Army Lt Gen Sarath Chand said that 68% of the Army’s equipment is in the ‘ vintage category’, adding fund crunch will also impact the serviceability of the existing equipment and may even affect payment of instalments for past purchases.
It had set up of the Special Forces Division, Defence Cyber Agency, the Defence Space Agency and the Defence Space Research Agency (DSRA). It also came up with the concept of Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs).
Insufficient allocation will hit its modernisation at a time when Chinese military is competing to reach the level of the US and Pakistan bolstering capability of its forces, the Army had told a parliamentary panel.