Defence budget should be linked to defence preparedness
The Finance Minister P. Chidambaram has marginally raised the defence budget from ` 1,93,000 crore to ` 2,03,000 crore, up by 5.18 per cent, but if one considers the revised budget estimates for 2012-13, it would be 14 per cent. Of the ` 2,03,000 crore, about ` 1,16,000 crore will be for revenue expenditure while the remaining ` 86,741 crore will be capital expenditure (for new weaponry and other acquisitions) with substantial allocation going for the Indian Air Force, followed by the Indian Army and the Indian Navy. The Indian Air Force in all probability will be signing the deal for acquiring 126 Rafale fighter aircraft, among other acquisitions, and that is a huge, huge order.
The defence budget has to be seen in the background of defence preparedness for which we reiterate that it (defence preparedness) is not just a continuous process but an uncompromising one. Considering the growing external and internal threats (the latter invariably spurred by external elements), the armed forces have to be given the best of equipment, besides of course their remuneration and other perks to keep them motivated. The recent skirmishes on the border and the Hyderabad bomb blasts, in which 16 people were killed and more than 120 injured, are reminders of the across-theborder machinations.
In a quick analysis of the defence allocation, Air Marshal (Retd) Anil Chopra spells out the need for increased budgets for defence considering that we have belligerent neighbours. He advocates budget hike of anywhere between 15 and 20 per cent as India’s shopping list is quite long. As such India is one the topmost importers of arms and we need not be shy of this fact as we need to take care of national security at any cost, while ensuring that all acquisitions are free from any corruption charges. And the Defence Minister A.K. Antony has said speedy indigenisation in defence production is essential to eliminate corruption in procurement process. The government is also thinking of tweaking both the Defence Procurement Procedure and the Defence Production Policy. Indigenisation is not going to happen overnight. However, the good news is that the private sector is actively getting into defence production and the defence industry can only flourish if there are collaborations both at the national and the global level as we have to catch up with technologies.
In his fortnightly column, Lt General (Retd) P.C. Katoch talks about the change in Chinese leadership under Xi Jinping and wonders which direction China will take. China on the one hand has been arming and advising the Taliban in fighting the NATO-led Internation Security Assitance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, on the other hand concurrently it has been conspiring with Pakistan how to accelerate and integrate insurgencies in India. We need to guard against such forces and there cannot be a better excuse to equip our armed forces with the most modern weaponry. Happy reading!
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