India is in the process of developing an indigenous 5.5 Gen Stealth fighter jet for the IAF

India is far behind countries like China and USA when it comes to spending on defence research

A parliamentary panel has expressed concern over India’s spending on defence research that continues to be stagnant over the last five years and accounts for less than one per cent of the country’s GDP.

The standing committee on defence has said that even amid the increasing threat perception, India is far behind countries like China and the US when it comes to spending on defence research.

“It was 0.088 per cent in 2016-17, which has come down to 0.083 per cent in 2020-21,” the report says.

This is part of the findings of the Standing Committee Report on Demands for Grants for Defence Research and Development Organisation that was presented in the parliament on Wednesday.

“Analysing the expenditure on R&D vis-à-vis total defence expenditure, it was found to be far less than other developed countries such as China, which is spending 20% and the US 12% of their respective budget on R&D in comparison to their Defence Budgets,” the report stated.

The committee expressed concern in view of the current international scenario, where threat perception is increasing due to on-going conflicts the world over.

In this context, the panel has recommended that adequate funding should be provided for defence research, so that strategic projects are taken up with full vigour.

The panel also expressed dissatisfaction over the budgetary allocation of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the apex defence research body in the country.

In the current 2022-2023 budget, there is a shortfall of Rs 1,659.8 crore in budgetary allocation to DRDO, the panel said, warning of compromises in operational needs and research and development.

The Standing Committee Report points out that over the years, the budget of DRDO has been around five to six percent of the Defence Budget.

“However, it is not increasing and is commensurate with the cost of inflation and also keeps in view the fact that a major amount goes towards expenses for strategic schemes.”

The report says that in 2021-22, DRDO had projected an amount of Rs 23,460.44 crore while the final allocation made was Rs 18,227.44 crore, which falls short of the initial projection made by Rs 5,122.56 crore.

This allocation is even less than the Budget Estimate allocation for the year 2021-22.

In the Budget Estimate for 2022-23, DRDO has sought Rs 22,990 crore, whereas the allocation made is Rs 21,330.2 crore. Thus, there is a shortfall of Rs 1,659.8 crore in allocation.

The panel recommended that DRDO should seek additional funds at revised estimates, supplementary stage so that their research and development activities progress as per the timeline set.