Defence`s share of the Central Government Expenditure has come down. The growth rate of the defence budget has subsided!

China’s growing influence in the Doklam region calls for flexing India’s defence muscles more. India has the fourth highest defence budget and the second largest standing armed force in the world.

Yet ageing equipment and lack of modernisation of its forces have made it vulnerable to foreign threats. In spite of maintaining an aggressive Defence policy in the Modi regime, the fund allocation for defence isn't sufficient.

The growth rate of the defence budget has fallen. Even its share of the Central Government Expenditure has come down.

In 2016-17, the Government allocated Rs 2,49,099 crore to the MoD, a rise of 9.95% from the 2015-16 Defence Budget. This was 17.24% of the Central Government’s Capital Expenditure. In 2017-18, the Finance Minister allocated Rs 2,62,389 crore to the ministry. Compared to the previous financial year, this was a rise of only 5.55% and the share in the government’s capital expenditure shrunk to 16.76%.

But even more worrying, for a nation that is upgrading its military, was that while there was an overall rise in the defence budget, the modernisation budget of the Armed Forces actually ended up less than the previous year. These MiG aircrafts are fast becoming obsolete and have earned the bad name of “Flying Coffin” for frequent malfunctioning. Same is the case with the Indian Army and Indian Navy that are reeling under the crises of modern defence equipment.

Not just a significant hike in defence allocation but also right-sizing the Indian Army, providing it with more senior level officers, rather than recruiting Jawans is necessary. Besides, underutilization of funds has also marred the performance of India’s defence sector with armed forces surrendering nearly Rs 7,000 crore in the last couple of years. 

The onus is now on the Finance Minister to make the budgetary allocation in defence efficiently even when riding high on its economic populism.

Our Bureau