Data Card

Arming India

Print edition : May 16, 2014
India is the world’s ninth largest military spender and number one arms importer, according to data released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

According to the figures released on April 14 by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), India is the world’s ninth biggest military spender. The data on trends in international arms transfer reveal that India has also emerged as the biggest importer of arms during 2009-13.

Military spending continues to fall in the West but rises everywhere else, says SIPRI, an independent international institute dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament.

Expenditure and arms transfer

The SIPRI data reveal that global military expenditure at 2.4 per cent of the world gross domestic product totalled $1.75 trillion in 2013, a fall of 1.9 per cent in real terms since 2012. The fall in the global total comes from decreases in Western countries, led by the United States, and despite increases in all other regions. In fact, military spending in the rest of the world excluding the U.S. increased by 1.8 per cent.

The volume of international transfers of major weapons during 2009-13 was 14 per cent higher than in 2004-08. The five biggest exporters in 2009-13 were the U.S., Russia, Germany, China and France and the five biggest importers were India, China, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

India’s import dependence

India has been expanding its arms imports thanks to its perception of threat from Pakistan and its militarily better-equipped neighbour, China. The country has failed in its effort to develop weapons indigenously and has had to increasingly look to global weapons manufacturers for its needs.

India is expected to spend over $100 billion in shopping for arms over the next few years. It has already inked several deals with major suppliers, but several have run into controversies. Interestingly, the share of the U.S. in the Indian arms pie is steadily increasing, although Russia still remains its main supplier.

In the Interim Union Budget for 2014-15, India has allocated Rs.2,24,000 crore for defence, an increase of 9.98 per cent over the 2013-14 defence budget. India has the second largest standing army after China and a bulk of its defence budget goes into servicing revenue expenditure. Defence experts feel that the hike in capital expenditure, which mainly caters to the modernisation requirement of the armed forces, is still very low.

China’s military expenditure

Military expenditure in Asia and Oceania rose by 3.6 per cent in 2013, reaching $407 billion. The increase is mostly accounted for by a 7.4 per cent increase by China, whose spending reached an estimated $188 billion.

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