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

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Giant with Feet of Clay

Military Budget 2013-14

An amazing amount of money is spent on the armed forces, which depend heavily on imports of everything from weapons systems to spares, even as they are increasingly deployed to deal with internal conflicts. This article points out that both the dependence on arms imports and the expansion of the forces to tackle domestic troubles not only push up costs but also jeopardise the country's strategic manoeuvrability. It contends thatit is high time the received wisdom on these matters was closely examined.

India’s annual budget does not spell out the assumptions underlying financial allocations, although the allocations are informed by them and funds for various departments and ministries of the central government are determined within parameters and definitions set by policy decisions. This issue acquires importance in the absence of a robust debate on military or security matters. There is in general a fawning acceptance of the military’s role in the service of the “nation state” even as the “steel frame” shows signs of corrosion from its dependence on arms imports and the role it plays in the suppression of our own people. The passage of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly on 2 April 2013 made the linkage palpably clear.

According to the expenditure budget 2013-14, the allocation for defence is Rs 2,53,345.91 crore. This constitutes approximately one-sixth of the total expenditure (TE) of the Union of India, estimated to be Rs 16,65,297 crore. If allocations to other formations of the armed forces under the Ministry of Home Affairs and 50% of the expenditure under the department of atomic energy and space are considered, the total climbs to Rs 3,13,921.91 crore, or more than one-fifth of the TE.1

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