‘In­dia over­takes UK in defence spend­ing, way be­hind China’

Hindustan Times (Bathinda) - - Htnation - Pra­sun Son­walkar let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

LON­DON: IN­DIA has over­taken the United King­dom in defence spend­ing and is in top five, but faces con­sid­er­able lag in com­par­i­son to China, which is in­creas­ingly chal­leng­ing Western dom­i­nance, a new re­port on mil­i­tary bal­ance said on Wed­nes­day.

The an­nual re­port by the In­ter­na­tional In­sti­tute for Strate­gic Stud­ies (IISS) sees China and Rus­sia chal­leng­ing the global dom­i­nance of the United States and its al­lies. IISS di­rec­tor-gen­eral John Chip­man said while great-power war is not in­evitable, the three lead­ing mil­i­tary pow­ers are "sys­tem­at­i­cally pre­par­ing for the pos­si­bil­ity of con­flict".

In­dia has the fifth largest defence bud­get in the world, at $52.5 bil­lion in 2017 ($51.1 bil­lion in 2016), over­tak­ing the UK whose defence bud­get fell from $52.5 bil­lion in 2016 to $50.7 bil­lion in 2017.

Ac­cord­ing to the Stock­holm In­ter­na­tional Peace Re­search In­sti­tute, which com­piles au­thor­i­ta­tive re­ports on an­nual mil­i­tary spend­ing, In­dia’s ex­pen­di­ture on defence was greater than that of the UK in 2016.

Ti­tled ‘Mil­i­tary Bal­ance 2018’, the IISS re­port de­tails China’s grow­ing mil­i­tary prow­ess, par­tic­u­larly at sea, adding that Bei­jing was on track to be­gin op­er­at­ing the Chengdu J-20 low-ob­serv­able com­bat air­craft in front­line squadrons by 2020. “If this hap­pens, the US would lose its mo­nop­oly on op­er­a­tional stealthy com­bat air­craft,” the re­port said.

Rahul Roy-chaud­hury, se­nior fel­low for South Asia at IISS, said: “In­dia's defence bud­get is still only a third of its neigh­bour, China. Post-dok­lam, China con­tin­ues to de­velop ad­vanced air­borne and land ca­pa­bil­i­ties.”

“In­dia’s tra­di­tional in­flu­ence over the In­dian Ocean is also be­ing chal­lenged by China's ship­build­ing. Since 2000, China has built more sub­marines, de­stroy­ers, frigates and corvettes than In­dia, Ja­pan and South Korea com­bined,” he said.

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