Military not getting its due share, says army chief on defence spending
The military is not getting its due share, and spending on defence is considered a “burden” by many in the country, army chief General Bipin Rawat said on Thursday.
Citing China’s example, he said a powerful military will enhance India’s strategic clout.
Dwelling on evolving security challenges for India, the army chief also said that a national military strategy and a security framework will be finalised very soon to effectively deal with various threats.
The two documents are being finalised at a time when the armed forces are dealing with increasing cross border terror activities in Jammu and Kashmir. Last month, a tri-services military doctrine was unveiled listing various response mechanism including carrying out ‘surgical strikes’ to deal with terrorist attacks.
Pitching for investing more on India’s armed forces, Rawat, addressing a defence think tank, spoke of China to drive home the point that India’s true potential will be realised only when both economic growth and might of the military go hand-in-hand.
“While we are developing our economy, the military is not getting its due share. I think here we need to draw a lesson from China,” he said, adding military and economic growth should be “conjoint” as they are two tenets of national power.
He said the country must look for new friends and allies to deal with neighbours along India’s western and northern borders, an apparent reference to Pakistan and China.
India’s defence budget for 2017-18 was Rs 2.74 lakh crore which is 1.63% of the GDP. China’s military spending for 2017 has been pegged at $52 billion, which is close to around three per cent of the country’s GDP and three times higher than that of India’s defence budget.
There has been a feeling among security experts and the defence establishment that the modernisation of armed forces is taking place at a very slow pace and that government has not been allocating adequate funds for it.
Referring to India’s security challenges, General Rawat said the drafts of national military strategy and national security strategy were ready to deal with pressing issues coherently.
“We should be able to identify our own national military strategy. We do not have a national military strategy as of now. Directorate General of Perspective Planning has been tasked to come out with it.
“We are also coming out with the national security strategy which will be given to the government. Both the draft documents are ready and hopefully we will be releasing them very soon,” he said after unveiling ‘Strategic Yearbook 2017’ at the United Service Institution, a national security and defence think tank.
Holding that a strong military is essential for India’s forward march, he said the general thinking among people is that expenditure on defence “is a burden” on the economy.
He said a “very strong military” is key for the economy to develop. The army chief also identified ensuring energy security as another important requirement for India to become a major power.
Talking about the evolving security situation in the region, General Rawat said India must have close ties with countries like Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan considering the security matrix. He said such a policy will recreate the outreach India had before partition.
The army chief said such a strategy will create two pronged dilemma for India’s western neighbour, Pakistan, but also help in tackling issues with India’s northern neighbour, China.
“We have to start looking at how do we carry out counter-encirclement for our future adversaries. Developing alliances, developing friends to overcome the (current) deficiency is important. That must be part of our strategic thought process,” he said.
The army chief said that time has come for India to have a say in all major issues at the United Nations and the country must work hard to attain the membership of the UN security council.
“We must create alliances and friends also so that we find a rightful place at the UNSC. Time has come for India to have a say in all that happens in UN,” he said.
On energy security, he said India has a huge potential to generate solar and wind energy and it must focus on these energy sources.