De­fence Bud­get 2016-17 and the Sta­tus of In­dian Army

Lt General V.K. Kapoor (Retd)

SP's LandForces - - FRONT PAGE -

HE DE­FENCE BUD­GET AL­LO­CA­TION for the year 2015-16 was

2,46,727 crore where as the al­lo­ca­tion for the year 2016-17 is 2,58,589.3 crore an in­crease of less than 5 per cent over the bud­get es­ti­mate fig­ures of the pre­vi­ous year. These cal­cu­la­tions are based on sum of de­fence ex­pen­di­ture (rev­enue), de­fence ex­pen­di­ture (cap­i­tal) and the Min­istry of De­fence (MoD) ex­pen­di­ture (mis­cel­la­neous) which amounts to the above fig­ure of 2,58,589.3 crore. De­fence pen­sions have not been added in this fig­ure as they do not con­trib­ute to the main­te­nance and devel­op­ment of com­bat ca­pa­bil­ity of the three ser­vices. These have never been taken into ac­count in the past. This time to per­haps im­press the pub­lic and the op­po­si­tion re­gard­ing the BJP Gov­ern­ment’s sym­pa­thy for the de­fence sec­tor they are want­ing all to be­lieve that more is be­ing done than ear­lier whereas the fact is that this time the in­crease in de­fence bud­get is the least in the last about six decades since the 1962 war with China. This is also per­haps the first time in the his­tory of in­de­pen­dent In­dia that the Finance Min­is­ter (FM) made no men­tion of the de­fence bud­get in his 90 min­utes speech to the Par­lia­ment. The rea­sons can only be given by the Finance Min­is­ter him­self, how­ever the lack of se­cu­rity con­scious­ness among the po­lit­i­cal class can be seen by the fact that not even one po­lit­i­cal leader from any party com­mented on this is­sue even out­side the Par­lia­ment to the me­dia. Com­ing from the Finance Min­is­ter of a party which claims to be the na­tion­al­is­tic party, the omis­sion is even more as­tound­ing con­sid­er­ing that the chal­lenges and threats to the coun­try are loom­ing large on the hori­zon vir­tu­ally from all di­rec­tions.

This al­lo­ca­tion which is merely 1.47 per cent of the GDP and is even lower than last year’s (2015-16) when it was 1.75 per cent of the GDP. It should be seen in light of the ex­ist­ing hol­low­ness in the ca­pa­bil­i­ties and voids of all the three ser­vices which have ac­cu­mu­lated over the past one decade and more of com­pul­sive in­ac­tion by the UPA Gov­ern­ment and now by the present gov­ern­ment. The cur­rent al­lo­ca­tion is bound to fur­ther de­rail the process of mod­erni­sa­tion and cre­ate dis­may and an­guish among the serv­ing sol­diery.

Ta­ble 1 be­low gives the com­par­a­tive fig­ures of de­fence al­lo­ca­tions in three years start­ing from 2014-15 to the cur­rent fi­nan­cial year and shows the growth where ap­pli­ca­ble.

Com­ments

It is clear from the above ta­ble that there is no growth of the de­fence bud­get and con­sid­er­ing that dur­ing the past two years the ru­pee has de­pre­ci­ated by 39 per cent against the dol­lar and if we add this de­pre­ci­a­tion to the rise in prices of mil­i­tary equip­ment in the global mar­ket the ad­verse im­pact stands out clearly.

The other draw­back is the trend of in­creas­ing rev­enue ex­pen­di­ture as com­pared to the cap­i­tal ex­pen­di­ture and the in­creas­ing ad­verse ra­tio be­tween the two. With the rais­ing of the Moun­tain Strike Corps and the con­se­quent in­crease in man­power, the ra­tio is bound to lean even more heav­ily to­wards rev­enue ex­pen­di­ture.

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