The country's defence analysts are hoping for an increased expenditure outlay for the armed forces in this year's interim budget to be presented on February 1 by union minister Piyush Goyal. This is also the last interim budget of the NDA government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi before the Lok Sabha elections due by May.
Arriving at a certain figure for India's defence budget is usually done by comparing similar budgets of neighbouring nations, says defence analyst Swaran Singh, according to news agency ANI.
"Last year, when Pakistan's defence budget went up by about 18 per cent, India's defence budget went up only by about 5.5 per cent. This was seen as a matter of concern. Likewise, Chinese defence budget is three times compared to our budget," he said.
"I want to underline that these are the only two countries of concern but defence budget has to keep other issues in mind and in that sense, it is important to see that what part of our total revenues are being allocated to national defence," he added.
Several high-cost projects are currently under the works by the country's defence manufacturing sector. They include surface-to-air missiles, tanks, drones and even an aircraft carrier, among others. India is also buying the all-weather, advanced multirole jet Rafale from France.
Mr Singh said about 27 per cent of India's revenue is allocated for defence currently. "This is fairly impressive."
Others, however, are of the opinion that the optimum defence budget should be set by taking into account the kinds of threat that India faces. Since defence is a capital-intensive sector, large, long-term investments need to be done according to needs, say analysts.
"The budget has to be made according to the threat scenario which is quite severe. However, as it is an election year, we cannot expect a huge jump in the allotment for defence in the next one year or so," said defence analyst SK Chatterjee.
"As I see we will not be getting enough funds for modernisation of our defence while the Chinese are undergoing a huge modernisation exercise. They are cutting down on their manpower and investing in technology for the armed forces," he added.
In July last year, a parliamentary panel had criticised the government for inadequate allocation of funds for the armed forces in the defence budget. The parliamentary standing committee on defence had said the country cannot afford complacency in dealing with security challenges, particularly when there was a possibility of a two-front war. In its report to the Lok Sabha last year, the committee on estimates also referred to allocation of 1.56 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to the three services of the armed forces in the defence budget, noting that it was the lowest since India and China fought a war in 1962.
(With inputs from ANI)
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