Defence Budget Percentage of GDP Lowest Since China War of 1962 in Past Two Years
Representational Image (Photo Credit: PTI)

New Delhi, August 10: During the monsoon session, a parliamentary panel headed by BJP MP Murli Manohar Joshi expressed unhappiness over the current year’s defence budget. According to the committee, this year’s defence budget defence budget as a percentage of GDP is the one lowest since the India-China war in 1962. The panel’s report on “Preparedness of Armed Force - Defence Production and Procurement", also said that "nothing concrete" had been done for implementing strategic partnership model unveiled by the government in May 2017. The committee presented the report in Lok Sabha during the monsoon session. The panel stressed on the need for preparing for future warfare, which includes cyber warfare, drones, automated warfare systems, stealth technology and precision guidance.

The committee also stated that that defence expenditure has marginally increased since 2014-15 and when compared to Central government's expenditure, the percentage has declined from 13.15 during 2014-15 to 12.20 during 2017-18. Compared to the GDP, this year’s defence budget is the lowest since the China war in 1962.

This year, Rs 2,95,511.41 crore was kept for defence in the union budget.  The defence budget was hiked by 7.81 percent as compared to the previous year’s budget.  Out of the total outlay for defence, only Rs 99,563.41 is allocated for capital expenditure, which includes modernisation expenditure for the forces. Whereas Rs 1,95,947.55 has been kept aside for revenue expenditure. It translates to only 1.58 percent of the GDP.

It is the lowest such figure since the 1962 war with China wherein it was 1.65 percent. In March, even the then Vice Chief of Army Staff Lt. General Sarath Chand expressed his disappointment over the defence budget for the financial year 2018-19. "The 2018-2019 budget has dashed our hopes ... The marginal increase barely accounts for inflation and does not even for taxes,” reported The Times of India quoting Lt. General Chand. In March, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence, headed by BJP MP Maj Gen (retd) B C Khanduri, had come down hard on the government for inadequate allocation of funds to the armed forces.

Multiple defence panels had also recommended that the defence budget should be around 2.5 percent of the GDP.  The average budget allocated to defence between 1947 and 1962 was 1.59 percent. Last year, the defence budget was 1.56 percent of the GDP.