India’s Defense Spending: Facts Beyond Figures at The Trajectory India’s Defense Spending: Facts Beyond FiguresPublished by Madhavion July 10, The 34% increase in India’s Defense Budget this year has caught the attention of neighbors, China and Pakistan in particular. According to the budget figures India plans to spend $29.52 billion in the 2009-10 financial year. These figures create an impression that India is all set to further flex her military muscle in the region and beyond. Reality however does not confirm to this perception. It’s not that India does not wish to have a military clout in South Asia; the fact is that the country’s security and defense policies are not suited to achieve the goal of regional military dominance. A recent article in Hindustan Times appropriately sums up the tasks facing India’s defense policy: defense needs reforms, not just hike in funds. A large part of the proposed defense budget hike will be dedicated to fulfilling the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations. Pensions, which have gone up as a result of the Pay Commission’s award, account for about Rs 5,000 crore. Salaries have also gone up from Rs 54,560 crore in 2008-09 to Rs 81,388 crore in 2009-10. Thus a large segment of the money allocated in the budget is meant for activities which have no direct bearing on enhancing the country’s military clout per se. Another less noticed dimension of the problem is the lack of enthusiasm among youth to join the defense forces. This is what a CNN-IBN news piece reported on January 2009: As the military challenge to India mounts, the number of men who were ready to stand up and defend India is diminishing. While on one hand, men in uniform are queuing up to leave, on the other, enlistment at India’s military academies is at an all-time low. The number of officers from the Army’s cutting-edge combat leadership wanting to quit has increased four-fold in the last five years. In 2008, the number jumped up to a record 1,200, most of them high-performers. Not enough money and having to stay away from the family are one of the biggest demoralisers. At courses in 2008, there were no takers for two-thirds of the slots at the Indian Military Academy. Only 86 of the 250 vacancies at the 124th course were subscribed. At the National Defence Academy, cadet intake hit an all-time low of 190 against a training capacity of 300, and after only 11 recruits showed up for a course meant to train 107 engineers at the Officers Training Academy, the course was scrapped. A Report released by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India in the last quarter of 2008 expressed clear doubts regarding India’s readiness for war operations. The audit report on Armed Forces came up with stunning disclosures. One, that more than half of India’s submarines are not battle-ready. Two, that its radars are too old and too few to provide any credible defense against an air attack. The report reveals that at any time, only 48 per cent of Indian Naval ageing submarines are available for waging war, should India be attacked. The rest are in repair and refit. Age is such an issue that 50 per cent of the submarines are in the last stages of their prescribed life. Sixty-three per cent of the fleet would be ready for phase-out by 2012. Not only are the submarines too old, the numbers are too few - way below approved force levels. India’s fleet of an estimated 16 submarines is just 67 per cent of the force levels approved 23 years ago. The bad news doesn’t end here. The CAG has now confirmed an earlier report by CNN-IBN that the Navy’s main strike weapon, the submarine-launched Klub land-attack cruise missile, is malfunctioning. Too old, too few - it’s much the same story with radars which are at the heart of India’s air defenses, which are based on an outdated, 37-year-old plan. Shortage of key radars was to the tune of 76 per cent, making India particularly vulnerable to air attacks. The audit report suggests that the IAF just doesn’t have the equipment to ensure a credible air defense for India. Following the CAG Report Defense Minister A.K. Antony candidly accepted the government’s failure in providing necessary weapon systems and platforms to the armed forces in time in the country’s history. The budget hike ignores two important facts. India’s defense spending according to the CIA Fact Book was 2.5% of the GDP in 2006; for Pakistan it was 3% and for Sri Lanka it was 2.6% of the GDP. The country comparison to the world was: India 66, Pakistan 52 and Sri Lanka 63. Country comparison figures ranks the countries according to defense spending as a percent of GDP. India’s defense spending would have been much higher if the country was planning to militarily dominate the region.� More importantly, allocation of funds does not necessarily translate into better and advanced equipment for the defense forces in the Indian context. The MoD has been unable to spend over Rs 7,007 crore of the total capital outlay of Rs 48,007 crore last year. It surrendered Rs 6,750 crore in the two preceding years. In 2008-09, the capital outlay was Rs 48,007 crore. But as plans to procure the light utility helicopters and 155mm artillery guns did not materialize, the services gave the money back to the government. Is there any other country in the world where the defense forces are unable to spend the money allocated to it? The bureaucratic hassles delay the procurement of equipment and by the time the bureaucracy approves a request, the particular equipment outlives its use. If you add to the above facts the dismal performance of the DRDO, countless scams in defense deals and under-performance of procured equipment, India’s defense policy appears to be in shambles. These issues raise doubts regarding India’s defense capabilities, making any offensive domination implausible. India has masked her low military profile by referring to the need for addressing the ‘small neighbor’ psyche of the other South Asian states. Unfortunately, India’s military posture has failed to both reassure neighbors and fully serve the county’s defense needs. informative -somewhat opinionated article.