Defence expenditure lowest of GDP in India now since 1962

Nirmala Sitharaman. PTI file photo

Defence expenditure in India is the lowest of the GDP now since 1962 when the India-China war was fought, a parliamentary panel has noted, expressing serious concern over the decline in this head saying the country cannot afford complacency when it is a question of defence preparedness.

Parliamentary Standing Committee on Estimates chaired by BJP veteran Murli Manohar Joshi, which on Tuesday adopted a report on the subject "Preparedness of Armed Forces: Defence Production and Procurement", noted that the defence expenditure, which was was 2.06% of the GDP in 2014-15 came down to 1.56% of the GDP in 2017-18.

"Defence expenditure at 1.56% of the GDP was at the lowest level since 1962 when the India-China war was fought," the panel said, observing that in the current geopolitical scenario, a country of the size of India cannot afford complacency. 

The panel also noted that is has a coastline of about 7,500 km and land borders of 15,000 km, of which 3,323 km are with Pakistan and 3,380 km are with China.

Flagging that the country due to its volatile western, northwestern, northern and northeastern borders and internal security threats, "needs defence preparedness to be kept consistently at a high level".

The panel also rued that nothing concrete has been done for implementation of the strategic partnership model unveiled by the government in May 2017, which envisaged private players playing a key role in building military platforms in India in partnership with major global defence companies.

Commenting on the issue of indigenisation level in the defence sector, the panel noted that despite some salient achievements of our defence production ecosystem, a significant part of our defence requirements continue to be dependent on imports.

The committee was apprised by the Department of Defence Production that of the total defence production, around 40% is produced indigenously and 60% is imported.

The panel expressed concern over the prevailing situation and observed "dependence on foreign suppliers particularly for military hardware not only results in use expenditure on import of defence equipment but makes the security of the country vulnerable during emergency situations the supplier may not provide us the required weapons or spare parts". 

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