Budget 2019: Why India's defence budget needs more money

IANS
While a number of military modernization programs are long pending for want of funds, analysts are of the opinion that India needs to allot more funds for the defence. While the budget 2019 to be announced on July 5 has triggered a lot of expectations from across different sectors, here we discuss why India’s defence needs more budget at this point.

The latest defense budget for 2019 announced by the Modi’s government towards the end of its first tenure featured only a moderate 6.87 percent bump of $49.68 billion. Widespread beliefs say this rise is not adequate to support the modernization programs visualized by the government and also the government’s make in India initiatives for the defense requirements.

Last time, a total amount of $16.91 billion was allocated for the purchase of new weapons and the other kinds of military hardware. This was a rise when compared to the $14.68 billion allotted during the previous financial year. However, there are also a number of liabilities to be addressed which might chip away the funds. Hence only a significant increase in the defense budget can adequately address the needs of the defense sector in the country.

Considering the liabilities in front of the government, Amit Cowshish, ex financial advisor for the Defense Acquisition Ministry says the budget will need to raise the allotment for the defense sector significantly. If this does not happen, the Ministry will have to manage the things as it has been doing in the past.

The latest allotment for the defense sector pegged at $9.6 billion is more than five times of what Pakistan is allotting for its defense sector. Pakistan’s defense budget is barely enough only to maintain its basic operations. However, considering the aspirations of the country and the zeal to modernize the military, India will need to allot more for the defense.

While announcing the interim budget for 2019 just before the elections, Piyush Goyal, the then Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs assured that additional funds would be pooled in in order to make the country defense-prepared and also to maintain its borders.

The government already has a number of commitments and liabilities in the defense sector like paying for Rafale fighters, helicopters, S-400 missile systems and warships and helicopters. Hence only a significant increase in allotment for the country’s defense will suffice the growing requirements of the military.

The budget that will be announced on July 5, 2019 will be the first one to be announced by Nirmala Sitharaman, the new finance minister who takes charge after being the defense minister during the last tenure of the BJP government. Hence we can expect that she is familiar with the real needs of the defense sector and so she could have given her best in the budget to address the growing needs of the defense sector in the country. We need to wait and see if this assumption comes true by way of the military sector receiving more funds in the full budget 2019.
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