Sunday, May 9, 2021

India Announces Plan To Inject $130 Billion For Defense Modernization After Flak Over Limited Military Budget

India has disclosed its plan to spend $130 billion in the next 7 to 8 years on military modernization amid criticism about a negligible increase in this year’s military budget. 

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Speaking at the ‘Aero India’ show in Bengaluru, India’s Defense Minister Rajnath Singh said on Wednesday: “We have taken many steps to strengthen our security apparatus recently. Domestic manufacturing of bigger and complex defense platforms has now become the focus of our policy under the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan. We plan to spend 130 billion dollars on military modernization.”

Experts have raised concerns over what is being termed as a “negligible increase” in India’s defense budget for FY 2021-22 announced on February 1. The Finance Ministry has allocated ₹3.47 trillion ($47.4 billion) for the defense sector, which is slightly more than 1% of last year’s allocation.

Critics say India should spend more to augment its weaponry, especially when the threat of a two-front war with China and Pakistan is looming. The Defense Minister’s announcement is seen as a means to counter such criticisms.

In 2020, India had accelerated weapon purchase following a violent face-off between the Indian and Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley in Eastern Ladakh on June 15, in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed. The Defense Acquisition Council had then approved arms procurement projects worth $5.55 billion, including domestic efforts worth $4.44 billion.

Without naming China and its maneuvers in the Himalayas, Singh said: “We have long witnessed unfortunate attempts to employ force to change status quo along our unresolved borders. India is vigilant and prepared to counter and defeat any misadventure to defend our people and the territorial integrity at all costs”.

Indicating Pakistan’s role in promoting terrorism in Kashmir, he said India is a victim of state-sponsored terrorism, which is now a global threat.

The Defense Minister in his speech also emphasized achieving the goals of self-reliance and increasing defense exports. He said a target has been set to achieve a turnover of Rs 1,75,000 crore, including exports worth Rs 35,000 crore in aerospace and defense goods and services by 2024.

He underscored India’s potential to become a reliable supplier of defense equipment to many friendly nations. Singh said since 2014, the Government of India has brought in many reforms in the defense sector to create a conducive environment for exports, foreign direct investment (FDI), and offset discharge.

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