ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Trends in Military Expenditure

The world spent $1,531 billion on defence in 2009, a real increase of 5.9% over $1,464 bn spent in 2008. Clearly, the recession has had little effect on military spending. More than 100 countries including 16 from the G-20 hiked their military budgets. The US was the largest spender at $661 bn or 4.3% of its GDP, up by $54 bn from $607 bn in 2008. This is the highest level of spending since the second world war. China was a poor second at $100 bn. India moved up one spot to ninth position with a budget of $36.3 bn which translates into 2.6% of GDP. This amounts to a real term increase of 13% mostly on account of arrears paid to serving and retired personnel as per the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission.

The figures for 2009 were released recently by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Long-term trends indicate that over a 10-year period from 2000 to 2009, world spending increased in real terms by 49%. It is interesting to note that during the same period, Indian defence spending grew much more, by 67%. This is primarily on account of the fact that during the post Kargil decade, there has been an unprecedented threefold rise in Indian military expenditure which can be attributed to large-scale imports and induction of the nuclear arsenal, besides additional deployment of troops on the Kargil Heights. Therefore, the current level of Indian defence spending should be a cause for concern, given the fact that India is ranked 132 in the Human Development Index.

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