Defence Budget 2016-17 and the Status of Indian Army
Lt General V.K. Kapoor (Retd)
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.
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.