Imports spiked to 48.68 per cent of the acquisition in 2018-19

The growing production of defence and aerospace equipment in India notwithstanding, the country continues to import military equipment.

Data tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Monday showed that indigenous production of military equipment was worth Rs 74,054 crore in 2016-17. It jumped to Rs 84,643 crore in 2020-21.

However, the data shows that India continues to import defence equipment at the same level as it was doing in 2014-15. This hovers around 39 to 40 per cent of all acquisition under the capital head of the Budget. Imports spiked to 48.68 per cent of the acquisition in 2018-19. This was largely due to payment for the Rafale fighter jets and the high value items such as surveillance planes.

A question by Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi asked for details of expenditure incurred on foreign procurement by the defence services from 2014-15 to the current financial year.

India was the second largest arms importer for the period 2016-20, according to a report of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), a Sweden-based think-tank. New Delhi accounted for 9.5 per cent of all imports during this period, the report released in March 2021 stated.

Despite the data showing imports remaining at the same level as before, matters are expected to improve. Last year, the US, Russia, France and Israel — the countries that have been supplying weapons and military equipment in the past decade — have been told that it will have to “make in India” in future.