De­fence

SP's MAI - - MILITARY VIEWPOINT -

[ By Lt Gen­eral P.C. Ka­toch (Retd)

I] n the next one month or so, the sec­ond de­fence bud­get is to be an­nounced by the present gov­ern­ment, which will also be the first de­fence bud­get un­der the present De­fence Min­is­ter. The close in­ter­re­la­tion be­tween econ­omy and se­cu­rity of any coun­try is an ac­cepted fact. Both need to be fine-tuned. The ris­ing threats par­tic­u­larly from China and Pak­istan too need to be taken into ac­count. We need to take a cue from the record $42 bil­lion of Ja­pan in face of Chi­nese ag­gres­sive pos­ture – that we too face.

Log­i­cally In­dia should have a de­fence bud­get of three per cent or more of the GDP for next few years. The tragedy in In­dia in the past decade plus has been that the econ­omy slumped with deep rooted cor­rup­tion de­spite an­nounce­ment of some high sound­ing schemes. The econ­omy has be­gun to look up some­what un­der Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s gov­ern­ment al­beit its fu­ture would have to deal with dyns­mics of fac­tors like global oil prices, lev­els of en­ergy se­cu­rity, in­sta­bil­ity and con­flict sit­u­a­tions, etc, that is un­pre­dictable, world economies hav­ing be­come in­ter­de­pen­dent. But the fact re­mains that de­fence has been the most ne­glected in In­dia de­spite ev­ery gov­ern­ment mak­ing thun­der­ous an­nounce­ments that there will be no dearth of money for de­fence. The Long Term In­te­grated Per­spec­tive Plan (LTIPP) for pe­riod 2012-27 that stood ap­proved by the De­fence Ac­qui­si­tion Coun­cil headed by the De­fence Min­is­ter, as also the Twelfth Five Year Plan, was based on a de­fence bud­get al­lo­ca­tion at 3 per cent of the GDP. But the al­lo­ca­tion of de­fence has al­ways been much be­low that.

De­fence ex­pen­di­ture for 2013-14 had been kept at ` 2,04,000 crore. Yes, the first Union Bud­get pre­sented by this gov­ern­ment in July 2014 boosted de­fence spend­ing by 12 per cent in 2014-15 over the pre­vi­ous year and fur­ther opened the do­mes­tic weapons in­dus­try to for­eign in­vest­ment to help rebuild the mil­i­tary and nar­row the widen­ing ca­pa­bil­ity gap be­tween the In­dian mil­i­tary and the China’s Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army (PLA); set­ting the mil­i­tary bud­get at ` 2,29,000 crore for 2014-15, ` 50,000 more than what the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment had agreed in an in­terim bud­get in Fe­bru­ary 2014. Im­pres­sive on first look but this has to be seen in the back­drop of not only the enor­mous short­ages in the mil­i­tary in­clud­ing in ammunition but gov­ern­ment web­site ad­mit­ting that 50 per cent of de­fence equip­ment held by the army, navy and air-force is ob­so­lete and the Comptroller and Au­di­tor Gen­eral of In­dia (CAG) re­ports of last five years point­ing out that the equip­ment pro­vided by the DRDO is sub­stan­dard and pro­vi­sioned at ex­ces­sive costs be­sides enor­mous amount of money and time spent on R&D with­out even con­sul­ta­tion of the user (mil­i­tary) and some even with­out the Min­istry of De­fence (MoD) sanc­tion.

Rais­ing of the Moun­tain Strike Corps it­self will en­tail an yearly ex­pen­di­ture of ` 7000-10,000 crore for next seven years, in ad­di­tion to about an over­all ` 25,000 crore re­quired for in­fra­struc­ture to sup­port the Moun­tain Strike Corps. Then we also have some 60,000 per­son­nel re­tir­ing from the army alone and the snow­balling ef­fect since

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