Defence budget inadequate: Army tells Parliamentary panel

Lester Mason
March 14, 2018

He said 68 per cent of the Army's equipment is in the "vintage category", adding fund crunch will also impact the serviceability of the existing equipment and may even affect payment of instalments for past purchases. But the over 12-lakh strong Indian Army is grappling with an alarming 8% (state-of-the-art), 24% (current) and 68% (vintage) weaponry mix while it's engaged in daily cross-border firing duels with Pakistan and heightened tensions with China since the Doklam stand-off previous year.

The Army has said it was reeling under severe fund crunch and struggling to even make emergency procurements when there was a real possibility of a two-front war and both China as well as Pakistan were carrying out modernisation of their defence forces in "full swing".

"Is the entire defence expenditure being utilized only for maintaining military?"

The 2018-2019 budget has dashed our hopes.

Vice Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Sarath Chand on Tuesday deposed to the Parliamentary panel on Defence Budget 2018-19 and expressed grave concern at the "insufficient" allocation of funds.

"We have a large number of Chinese strategic roads and also infrastructural development along the northern borders".

"We in Army have identified as many as 25 projects for Make in India". Chand also said that the defence budget "has dashed our hopes" and the marginal increase in it barely accounts for inflation and doesn't cater for taxes.

While this concept was given a go-ahead by the defence ministry previous year, the finance ministry has resisted all moves to set it up. In addition, the defence budget's share of India's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the lowest it has been since the 1962 war between India and China, working out to only 1.58 percent of India's GDP.

Mentioning the Doklam standoff, the officer said there is increased patrolling and transgressions by Chinese troops and increased activity in the Tibet plateau, where the quantum of troops and level of exercises have gone up. The Navy and IAF, in turn, got 56% and 46%.

Army has been allocated just Rs 268.2 billion for equipment modernisation against the Rs 445.7 billion it had projected, according to a draft report by Parliament's Standing Committee on Defence.

As reported by ThePrint, the Indian defence budget is now dangerously skewed as the revenue bill has zoomed over the years. Similarly, taking note of the "unsympathetic attitude" towards naval modernisation, the committee said, "A budget deficit of almost 40% will indeed have a cascading impact on the operational preparedness and technological up-gradation of the Navy".

Considering that India is the biggest importer of arms in the world, the government has been pushing for indigenous arms development, which would possibly be hit by the poor budget allocations. Consequently, the Army has critical gaps in artillery guns, infantry weapons, light helicopters, night-fighting capabilities and the like.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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