India still largest arms importer, spent more than $100 b in last 10 years: SIPRI
India continued to be the largest weapons importer in the world over the last five years and arms exports from the United States to the country jumped 557% in 2013-17 as compared to 2008-12, a Stockholm-based think tank said in a report released on Monday.
India’s overall imports climbed 24% in the five-year period, accounting for nearly 12% of all global imports, reported the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), according to whose findings India has been the largest weapons importer for over a decade despite the thrust since 2014 under the Make in India mission to build indigenously.
India spent more than $100 billion on buying new weapons and systems during 2008-17, with imports accounting for around 60-65% of the country’s military requirements. India has inked a raft of contracts during the last decade for fighter jets, special operations aircraft, submarine hunter planes, lightweight howitzers, artillery guns and other weapons and systems.
Russia, the country’s top arms supplier, accounted for 62% India’s arms imports in 2013–17, followed by the US (15%) and Israel (11%), the report said.
“Despite its continuing tensions with India and ongoing internal conflicts”, Pakistan’s imports fell by 36% between 2008-12 and 2013-17, with country accounting for 2.8% of global arms imports in the last five years, the report said.
Washington is supplying fewer weapons to Islamabad, the report revealed. Pakistan’s imports from the US dropped by 76% between 2013-17 and 2008-12, but it was the main recipient of Chinese weapons between 2013-17.
Last month, India allocated Rs 2.95 lakh crore for military spending during 2018-19, a modest hike of 7.8% over last year’s budget of Rs 2.74 lakh crore. The budget includes a capital outlay of Rs 99,563 crore for buying new weapons and systems, up from Rs 86,488 crore. But India’s defence spending continues to be on the decline measured against its GDP. This year it has slipped to just 1.57% of the GDP.
Reacting to the report, military affairs expert Air Vice Marshal Kapil Kak (retd) said: “While there is awareness that India needs to indigenise on fast-track, our perpetual problem has been a lack of strategic culture of defence industry build up. Only if we move proactively, can we crack the code.”