Defence gets whopping Rs 2 lakh crore plus

On guard: Minister assures of continuing modernisation of security forces

India's defence Budget has gone up by more than 14 per cent in a year in which the defence ministry is likely to sign a multi-billion dollar deal to buy 126 fighter jets and take the possession of Russian-origin aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya.

The allocation for defence ministry has gone up to Rs 2,03,672 crore in 2013-14 out of which Rs 86,741 crore is meant for new acquisition. The defence outlay constitutes 1.70 per cent of GDP, which is lower than China’s defence allocation in terms of GDP.

The present allocation of Rs 86,741 crore, as against last year’s revised estimate of Rs 69,579 crore, marks almost 25 per cent hike in modernisation related expenditure.
Compared to last year’s budgetary estimate, the rise is above 9 per cent. “The minister of defence has been most understanding and I assure him and the House that constraints will not come in the way of providing any additional requirement for the security of the nation,” Finance Minister P Chidambaram informed the Lok Sabha.

The praise for defence minister A K Antony comes because of almost silent acceptance of a substantial cut of Rs 14,903 crore in last fiscal’s allocation, out of which Rs 10,000 crore was capital Budget meant for procuring military hardware.

Priority areas

Notwithstanding the cut, the minister repeatedly assured of continuing modernisation in priority areas for the armed forces. Some of these big-ticket deals may fructify soon.
At the aero-show in Bangalore in February, Indian Air Force chief N A K Browne said he hoped that the price negotiation between defence ministry and Dassault Aviation – shortlisted for the 126 fighter jet contract – would be over by April-May and the commercial contract might be inked by the middle of 2013.

The delivery of aircraft carrier Vikramaditya has been delayed to the last quarter of 2013 as against earlier schedule of December, 2012, because of problems in the lining of the aircraft carrier’s boilers. The aircraft carrier is scheduled to be commissioned in November, 2013.

Other major acquisitions in the pipeline are P8I maritime reconnaissance aircraft, mid-air refuller and attack and heavy lift helicopters.

“Finance Minister has been fair to the defence sector by increasing the Budget and assuring that should there be any urgent need in future, the same would be provided,” Antony said, hinting that efforts to form a new mountain strike corps may be renewed.

* Defence gets Rs 2,03,672 crore,
1.7 pc of GDP.
* A hike of 14 per cent compared to last year’s allocations. 
* Rs 86,741 crore for new acquisitions and modernisation.
* 25 per cent hike in modernisation expenditure.
* INS Vikramaditya, Dassault fighter jets might be reality soon.

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