Slash­ing the Mil­i­tary Bud­get

Southasia - - Briefing -

In a des­per­ate at­tempt to bal­ance its bud­get, the In­dian Fi­nance Min­istry has slashed mil­i­tary spend­ing by US$2 bil­lion. The de­ci­sion came amidst eco­nomic in­sta­bil­ity and a soar­ing fis­cal deficit of 5.8 per­cent, leav­ing an­a­lysts with no op­tion but to re­duce the mil­i­tary bud­get by five per­cent. Bud­get cuts will not only af­fect the coun­try’s de­fense sec­tor but will also ham­per the ac­qui­si­tion of mil­i­tary air­crafts and equip­ment in the near fu­ture. In par­tic­u­lar, the bud­get cut is likely to af­fect the ac­qui­si­tion of 126 French Rafale fighter jets worth $20 bil­lion, which In­dia planned to ac­quire un­der the medium multi-role com­bat air­craft project.

In­dia’s mil­i­tary build-up be­gan in 2010 fol­low­ing the in­fa­mous Novem­ber 2008 New Delhi at­tack. A wave of para­noia and anti-Pak­istan sen­ti­ment dic­tated the na­tional se­cu­rity es­tab­lish­ment’s de­mands for in­creased fund­ing. Although the bud­get cuts will fa­vor In­dia’s long-term mon­e­tary goals, it will how­ever re­duce the coun­try’s abil­ity to in­vest in pur­chas­ing ma­chin­ery, equip­ment and mil­i­tary weapons. In­dia’s na­tional se­cu­rity threat is also not sim­ply con­fined to Pak­istan. The coun­try per­ceives se­ri­ous com­pe­ti­tion and threats from China as well.

The re­duc­tion in In­dia’s mil­i­tary bud­get co­in­cides with the cor­re­spond- ing rise of its se­cu­rity chal­lenges. The coun­try’s de­fense out­lay of $35.09 bil­lion seems triv­ial as com­pared to China’s ex­pen­di­ture of $106.41 bil­lion. Pre­vi­ously, In­dia had sought a 30 per­cent bud­get in­crease to counter the rapid devel­op­ment in the mil­i­tary sec­tor by China. It seems it will now have to wait be­fore ex­e­cut­ing any such plans.

Fol­low­ing the cut, sev­eral key ac­qui­si­tion plans have been pushed for the next fis­cal year. An­a­lysts pre­dict that this will cause se­ri­ous con­cern in In­dia for the coun­try is con­tin­u­ously ex­pand­ing its ar­se­nal to main­tain its hege­mony in the re­gion.

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