India is 4th largest military spender after US, China & Russia, but gaps remain | India News – Times of India

NEW DELHI: Global military expenditure registered the steepest year-on-year increase in well over a decade to reach a record $2,443 billion in 2023, with India remaining the world’s fourth largest defence spender after the US, China and Russia.
India, of course, does not get the biggest bang for its buck. The country’s military modernization continues to be hobbled by the huge salary and pension bills of its 1.4-million armed forces, a weak defence-industrial base and the relative absence of concrete long-term plans to systematically build military capabilities, with proper inter-Service prioritization.
China, in contrast, is rapidly modernizing its 2-million military across the traditional domains of land, air and sea as well as nuclear, space and cyber, recording its 29th consecutive year-on-year hike in its “officially declared” military budget, which is almost four times more than India.
Though China’s military spending is largely geared towards preventing any US-led intervention in Taiwan, the South and East China Seas, Beijing continues to flex its muscles all along the 3,488-km Line of Actual Control with India, refusing to de-escalate tensions while it also steadily steps up naval presence in the Indian Ocean Region.
As per the latest data released by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) on Monday, the total global military expenditure increased by 6.8% in real terms in 2023.
The 10 largest military spenders were the US ($916 billion), China ($296 billion), Russia ($109 billion), India ($84 billion), Saudi Arabia ($76 billion), UK ($75 billion), Germany ($67 billion), Ukraine ($65 billion), France ($61 billion) and Japan ($50 billion). Pakistan was placed at the 30th spot with $8.5 billion.
SIPRI said it is also the first time since 2009 that military expenditure went up in all the five geographical regions: the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia-Oceania. “The unprecedented rise in military spending is a direct response to the global deterioration in peace and security. States are prioritizing military strength, but they risk an action-reaction spiral in the increasingly volatile geopolitical and security landscape,” said SIPRI senior researcher Nan Tian.
The Indian armed forces, on their part, continue to grapple with major operational shortages in several areas, ranging from fighters, submarines and helicopters to modern infantry weapons, anti-tank guided missiles and night-fighting capabilities.
The Rs 6.2 lakh crore defence budget for 2024-25, for instance, allocates just 28% for military modernization. The defence outlay works out to just 1.9% of the projected GDP if the huge Rs 1.4 lakh crore pension allocation for the 32 lakh ex-servicemen and retired defence civilians is considered. It drops to less than 1.5% if the pension bill is excluded. This when at least 2.5% is essential for deterrence against the collusive threat from China and Pakistan.
The long delay in setting up unified theatre commands means the country also still lacks an integrated and cost-effective war-fighting machinery. While China has the Western Theatre Command to handle the entire LAC, India has as many as four Army and three IAF commands for the northern borders.

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