India among world's top five military spenders

India among world's top five military spenders

India has become one of the world's top five military spenders, overtaking France after New Delhi expanded its defence budget by 5.5% between 2016 and 2017.

India has become one of the world's top five military spenders, overtaking France after New Delhi expanded its defence budget by 5.5% between 2016 and 2017, says the latest report from Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

But China eclipses India with 3.6 times more spending as Beijing used up an estimated $228 billion on defence in 2017. India, on the other hand, spent $63.9 billion on its military, which is an increase of 5.5% compared with 2016 and of 45% since 2008.

The list of world’s top 15 military spenders doesn’t include Pakistan. Besides India and China, other Asian countries in the list are Saudi Arabia, Japan and South Korea.

At $610 billion, US military spending accounted for more than a third of the world total in 2017. The USA’s spending was 2.7 times greater than the next highest spender, China.

By contrast, Russia’s military spending fell by 20% to $66.3 billion, making it the fourth largest spender. This is the first decline in Russian military expenditure since 1998.

The SIPRI, which tracks arms trade around the world, report comes at a time when the defence ministry has begun the process for several big-ticket purchases including 100 medium multi-role fighter jets for Indian Air Force and 57 carrier-borne fighter jets for the Navy.

The Indian government plans to expand, modernise and enhance the operational capability of its armed forces motivated, at least partially, by tensions with China and Pakistan, it says.

“Tensions between China and many of its neighbours continue to drive the growth in military spending in Asia,” said Siemon Wezeman, senior researcher at SIPRI, explaining the reasons between the continued rise in military expenditure.

Notwithstanding the recent informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping as well as the historic summit between the leaders of North and South Korea, military analysts felt that military spending was unlikely to go down in Asia in near future. Rather it could go up because of the strategic importance of the Indian Ocean region.