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Foreign Policy a la Modi
India’s Big Bump in Defense Spending

India is seriously boosting its defense spending for fiscal year 2015-2016. IHS Jane’s reports:

India announced a core defence budget of INR2.5 trillion (USD41.1 billion) for fiscal year 2015-16 on 28 February.

The figure is a 7.7%, or INR1.8 billion, increase over the initial 2014-15 budget announced by the previous Congress Party-led government in February 2014, or a 10.9% increase over the revised budget announced by the new government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in July 2014.

Total defence spending, including military pensions expenses, will rise to INR3 trillion.

The first full budget presented by Modi’s government since it took power in May 2014 saw core defence spending decline to 1.75% as a percentage of GDP for the second consecutive year.

India is rising, and putting together the military capabilities will need to act as a global superpower of the first rank.

That’s more than we can say for Europe at the moment. At 1.75 percent of GDP, India’s defense spending tops that of a number of our NATO allies—despite the fact that they are supposed to spend a full 2 percent on their militaries. According to U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno, the UK is cutting military spending to such a degree that it’s becoming a strategic liability to the U.S. The cuts could be as deep as 10 percent over the next four years, a recent analysis suggests. Meanwhile, Germany’s planes won’t take off, though there are some early signs that Berlin has seen the light. And those are two of the biggest spenders. Other NATO countries do a lot less, though at least the ones in Russia’s neighborhood have started spending more than they used to.

Modi wants India to be a global player, and he knows that means backing up New Delhi’s growing clout with military might. Would that Europe had gotten (or rather, saved) the same memo.

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  • Kevin

    The article presents a much more mixed picture. Defense spending as percent of GDP in India is falling to historic lows, and rising budgets in rupees are being offset by the decline value of the rupee (which will affect the ability to import foreign made weapons).

    Digging further into this would seem to be warranted. Is Modi’s government increasing military budgets in real or PPP terms and will this result in increased military capabilities or not? How much is going to increased pay and pensions? (The article hints at that but does not really say.) How much of the increase in simply making up for declines in the rupee’s value since the previous budget versus acquiring additional capabilities?

  • SV

    Please visit India before you start anointing it as a next great power. All you have to do is spend couple hours few miles away from that fancy new airport. Yes, few hours and fews miles will be enough to disabuse of your notions of India as the next great power. Rampant malnutrition, exploitation of the poor by the middle class and, really heart wrenching is exploitation by the poor of even poorer. And about that fancy shiny Airport, 99.9% of the people would never set a foot in it. They are not allowed to as you can enter only if you have a air ticket and even then only few hours before the flight.

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