February 21st, 2017
India retains its position as the world’s largest weapons importer in the last five years with its overseas procurements being three times more than that of neighbours Pakistan and China. According to the latest report published by Stockholm-based think tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), India accounted for 14 percent of total imports between 2011 and 2015 — highest among all the countries across the world.
As per the report titled, ‘Trends In International Arms Transfers – 2015’, six of the ten largest arms importers between 2011 and 2015 are from Asia. China ranks second with 4.7 percent, followed by Australia with 3.6 percent, Pakistan with 3.3 per cent, Vietnam with 2.9 percent and South Korea with 2.6 percent. The report said that countries in Asia and Oceania accounted for 43 per cent of global arms imports between 2012 and 2016 which was an increase of 7.7 percent compared to 2007–11 period.
While China successfully substituted importing of arms with its indigenous products, India remains largely dependent on weapons technology from Russia, the US, Europe, Israel and South Korea.
India increased its arms imports by 43 percent from 2007-11 and 2012-16. In the last four years, its global acquirement was far greater than those of its regional rivals China and Pakistan.
The report states that the trade of major weapons has increased to its highest volumes after the Cold War, which was triggered by the sudden surge in demand from the Middle East and Asia.
Although Russia is maintaining a strong lead as the top supplier of arms, purchases from U.S. are also sharply increasing.
While the government has launched its ambitious Make in India drive to increase domestic manufacturing, we are yet to see any significant technology-based development in the country.
Pieter Wezeman, the Senior Researcher with the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Programme, said, “Over the past five years, most states in the Middle East have turned primarily to the USA and Europe in their accelerated pursuit of advanced military capabilities.” He added that they kept purchasing arms for dealing with crucial conflicts and tensions in the region.
It was interesting to see China standing third in both importer and exporter list. Chinese exports of major arms to states in Asia and Oceania in 2011-15 were 139 percent higher than in 2006-10, the report added.
The Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has allotted Rs 2.74 lakh crore budget for defence spending in 2017-18 – including Rs 86,488 crore for modernization — up from last year’s Rs 2.58 lakh crore. The country is reeling under shortage of basic protections like bullet-proof vests and assault rifles. Besides, we also need warplanes and next-generation submarines. All these are developments are moving at a slow pace which has to be gain momentum, and we also need to produce indigenous products so we can reduce the costs of buying the same from other countries.
You can read the full report here.