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Gun versus growth

A new study says India is the biggest defence spender among developing countries, reports Rahul Singh.

india Updated: Nov 14, 2006 16:18 IST

A new report says India is the biggest defence spender among developing countries. That’s definitely good for India’s military muscle, but should it be at the cost of improving the lot of the underprivileged?

As India prepares to make military purchases worth over $10 billion in the next five years, the need to strike a balance between increasing defence outlays and powering economic growth in other sectors was underlined at a three-day international seminar on defence finance and economics.

Inaugurating the seminar, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said, "Even a fraction of the money the world spends on defence can change things for millions. But the irony is that defence preparedness is necessary for the safety of these very people and others too." He highlighted the need to balance security concerns with development.

At 35.4%, India's expenditure on procurement as percentage of military expenditure is the highest in the world followed by China (33.3%) and USA (19.95%). According to a SIPRI (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute) report, India and China continue to be among the world's top arms importers.

During a session on optimal resource allocation in defence, Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi said economic development would remain a distant dream in the absence of a secure environment, for which investments in military capabilities were required.

Mukherjee conceived the seminar when he was the defence minister. The event is being attended by 80 foreign delegates, including experts from SIPRI, the Pentagon, Russian military specialists, the UK department of defence and RAND Corporation.

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