Heavy defence spending indicate India’s fears and objectives

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India is one of the world’s five biggest military spenders with a defence budget of USD 63.9 billion in 2017, a Swedish arms watchdog said in its report.

According to details, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said India spent USD 63.9 billion on its military last year, an increase of 5.5 per cent compared with 2016 and of 45 per cent since 2008.

The report said, “The Indian government plans to expand, modernise and enhance the operational capability of its armed forces motivated, at least partially, by tensions with China and Pakistan.”

The five top military spenders in 2017 were the United States (US), China, Saudi Arabia, Russia and India. The report said that the total global military spending rose to USD 1.739 trillion which is an increase of 1.1 per cent compared to the expenditure in 2016. “Continuing high world military expenditure is a cause for serious concern,” Jan Eliasson, chair of the SIPRI governing board, said. “It undermines the search for peaceful solutions to conflicts around the world,” he said. The report said that China’s military spending, at an estimated USD 228 billion, accounted for 48 per cent of the total defence spending in the Asia and Oceania region, and was 3.6 times that of the region’s second-largest spender, India.

India and China together accounted for 60 per cent of the total global defence expenditure of USD 1.739 trillion in 2017. The report also mentioned that China’s military expenditure rose again in 2017, continuing an upward trend that has lasted for more than two decades.

Siemon Wezeman, a senior researcher with the SIPRI, said, “Tensions between China and many of its neighbours continue to drive the growth in military spending in Asia.” According to the report, China’s spending as a share of world military expenditure has risen from 5.8 per cent in 2008 to 13 per cent in 2017.

At USD 610 billion, the US military spending accounted for more than a third of the world total in 2017. The US’ spending was 2.7 times greater than the next highest spender, China, it said. SIPRI said the US military spending was unchanged between 2016 and 2017.

Russia’s military spending fell for the first time since 1998, the report said, adding that the total global expenditure of 1.739 trillion was an increase of 1.1 per cent in real terms compared to the spending in 2016. At USD 66.3 billion, Russia’s military spending in 2017 was 20 per cent lower than in 2016, the first annual decrease since 1998. “Military modernisation remains a priority in Russia, but the military budget has been restricted by economic problems that the country has experienced since 2014,” said Wezeman. SIPRI said driven, in part, by the perception of a growing threat from Russia, military spending in both Central and Western Europe increased in 2017, by 12 and 1.7 per cent, respectively.

Many European states are members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and, within that framework, have agreed to increase their military spending. The arms watchdog said total military spending by all 29 NATO members was USD 900 billion in 2017, accounting for 52 per cent of world spending. The total global military expenditure accounted for 2.2 per cent of global gross domestic product in 2017, the report said.

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