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Cut In 2013 Defence Budget:SO MUCH FOR MODERNISATION!, By Col (Dr) PK Vasudeva, 7 January, 2013 Print E-mail

Defence Notes

New Delhi, 7 January 2013

Cut In 2013 Defence Budget


By Col (Dr) PK Vasudeva (Retd)


As terror resonates in India’s neighbourhood, the Armed Forces received a major jolt in the New Year. Shockingly, instead of increasing the defence outlay for modernisation and preparedness against its adversaries, the Government slashed a sum of Rs 10,000 crore from the projected budget for 2012-2013. Namely, it has imposed around a five per cent cut in the Rs 1.93 lakh crore defence budget this year in view of the economic slowdown.

Importantly, the cut is contrary to what Union Defence Minister Antony's earlier promise of a hike in the defence budget to cater to the threat of the expansive China-Pakistan military nexus.

Instead, the Finance Ministry conveyed the decision for the Rs 10,000 crore cut in the capital acquisitions for the Army, Navy and IAF to the Defence Ministry, arguing that fiscal adjustment was necessary since the economic situation was grim.

Undeniably, this move will lead to a major slowdown in the ongoing acquisition projects --- ranging from aircraft and helicopters to howitzers and missiles. It also makes clear that the already much-delayed $20 billion medium multi-role combat aircraft MMRCA project to acquire 126 fighters will not be inked anytime before 31 March, this year.

Remember, the IAF had been assured an additional Rs 10,000 crore to cater to the first instalment of the MMRCA project under which final commercial negotiations are already underway for the French Rafael fighters, if inked within this fiscal what happens then?

Besides, during a rare discussion on defence preparedness in Parliament last May, Antony had made plain he would seek a hike in the Rs 1,93,408 crore-defence outlay in this year’s 2012-13 budget due to “new ground realities” and the “changing security scenario’ specially against the backdrop of the growing China-Pakistan nexus.

But, now the Armed Forces' hopes have been dashed. As it stands, they always get much less than what they demand every year. For instance, the Forces  had sought a Rs 2,39,123 crore defence outlay this fiscal which  would have amounted to  a 2.35 per cent increase of the projected Gross Domestic Produce (GDP) for 2012-13.

But, they only got Rs 1,93,408 crore, or 1.9 per cent of the GDP. In fact, the Armed Forces' have always been demanding a defence outlay of 3 per cent of the GDP, which is essential to keep its defence force battle worthy and fit for war. Especially when China and Pakistan are in a hostile posture. 

Add to this, the revenue expenditure of day-to-day costs and salaries in the Budget which continues to far outstrip the capital outlay for new weapons, sensors and platforms. The two stood at Rs 113,829 crore and Rs 79,579 crore, respectively, this fiscal.

Notably, the actual capital acquisitions budget was even less at Rs 67,672 crore. First, the revenue budget (non-salary) was cut. Now, the capital outlay also has been hacked. Pertinently, the Armed Forces were on course to spend 67 per cent of the allocated capital outlay before March 2013. Thus, many projects will have to be pushed to the next fiscal”.

Also, while Navy and IAF are better placed, the real worry is the "critical operational hollowness" in the 1.13-million Army which had projected a requirement of over Rs 10 lakh crore for the 12th Plan (2012-17) period to acquire new capabilities and plug huge operational gaps in artillery, aviation, air defence, night-fighting, ATGMs (anti-tank guided missiles) and specialized tank and rifle ammunition.

Moreover, a crucial project during the 12th Plan is to raise the new mountain strike corps, with two specialized divisions for high-altitude areas, at a cost of well over Rs 60,000 crore. Dedicated for "rapid reaction ground force capability" against China, this corps will have its HQs in Panagarh (West Bengal) and add to the two new infantry divisions already raised at Lekhapani and Missamari (Assam).

India’s rapid economic growth and new-found access to military technology, especially by way of its rapprochement with the United States, had raised hopes of a military revival in the country. Against this optimism about the rise of Indian military power, stands the reality that India has not been able to alter its military-strategic position despite being one of the world’s largest importers of advanced conventional weapons for three decades.


Undoubtedly, the civil-military relations in the country have focused too heavily on one side of the problem: How to ensure civilian control over the armed forces, while neglecting the other, how to build and field an effective military force. This imbalance in civil-military relations has caused military modernization and reforms to suffer from a lack of political guidance, disunity of purpose and effort, material and intellectual corruption.


On the other hand, China is rapidly modernising its Armed Forces though there is disagreement about the actual spending figure. Certainly, Beijing’s defence budget has almost experienced double-digit growth for the last two decades. According to research institute SIPRI its annual defence spending rose from over $30 billion in 2000 to almost $120 billion in 2010.  The total military spending in 2012, based on the latest announcement from Beijing, is around $160 billion.


Furthermore, it is no secret that even as America still spends four-and-a-half times as much on defence, but seeing the present Chinese trend, Beijing’s defence spending could overtake America's after 2035. Where and what of India? ----- INFA


(Copyright, India News and Feature Alliance)

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