- India joins club of world's five biggest military spenders
- India's defence spending rose to $63.9 billion in 2017
- US and China are world's biggest military spenders
New Delhi's defense spending rose by 5.5 percent to $63.9 billion in 2017 and has now passed France, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said in a report released Wednesday.
Worldwide military spending rose marginally last year to $1.73 trillion, or roughly 2.2 percent of global gross domestic product, the group said. The list of the world's biggest military spenders has remained consistent in recent years, dominated by the U.S. and China, which spent $610 billion and $228 billion respectively, according to SIPRI, which researches global arms spending.
China spends far more on its military than any other power in Asia.
In India's case, however, increased spending doesn't mean the armed forces are deploying state-of-the-art equipment. The rise in defense spending mostly goes toward salaries and pensions for roughly 1.4 million serving personnel and more than 2 million veterans, said Laxman Kumar Behera, a research fellow with New Delhi's Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses.
India's own army echoes that sentiment. Vice-Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen. Sarath Chand told a parliamentary committee in March the current budget barely accounts for inflation and tax payments. Only 14 percent goes toward military modernization compared to 63 percent for salaries, Chand said.
Faced with geopolitical threats from Pakistan and China, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has tried to boost domestic defense production with his 'Make in India' program.
Yet Ministry of Defense data released in response to a parliamentary question show that procurement from Indian vendors has declined since 2014 -- when PM Modi came to power -- while procurement from foreign vendors increased slightly. Overall equipment procurement also dipped, the data show.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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