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!

Jayant Baran­wal

Pub­lisher & Ed­i­tor-in-Chief

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