Jolted out of its slumber by the 26/11 Mumbai attacks and faced with the increasing influence of Maoists, the budgetary allocation for security is expected to go up in the coming budget.
The internal security concerns coupled with a turbulent South Asia are likely to lend new urgency to increase the outlay for speeding up the modernisation of the Indian military.
The United States’ multi-billion dollar military aid programme for Pakistan and the security implications of a rapidly modernising Chinese military are the major factors that are likely to weigh on the minds of the financial planners.
The military desperate needs fighter jets, warships, submarines and artillery guns to maintain optimum deterrence against adversaries.
Compared to Rs 1,05,600 crore for 2008-09, the armed forces were allocated Rs 1,41,703 crore for 2009-10 in the interim budget — a clear jump of over 34 per cent. The armed forces will get Rs 54,824 crore to sharpen their war-waging potential, while the remaining amount would be towards meeting their day-to-day expenses.
China’s largely under-reported, but official, defence budget for 2009 stands at over $70 billion compared to India’s $27 billion. The Chinese air force and navy are acquiring new capabilities to surpass regional air forces and navies.
Defence Minister AK Antony has already articulated concern over Pakistan inducting sophisticated military hardware in the name of fighting terror. He has also said that India wanted to improve its ties with China, but would equip its armed forces to decimate threats from all quarters.
Former Air Force chief Fali Homi Major had earlier said that China posed a more real and potent threat to India than Pakistan, as very little was known about Beijing’s combat capabilities.
The budget is also likely to have special provisions for upgrading infrastructure in the country’s northeast.
The government also is expected to spend Rs 125 crore for setting up crime and criminal networks and systems across the country.
Ajai Sahni, executive director, Institute for Conflict Management, said: “While the Centre is still responding to internal security problems, the states are not… Any measure by the Centre is going to be only a stopgap. Many states have failed to even utilise modernisation funds.”
(With inputs from Manish Tiwari)