Defence and Security

Defence budget: The central government has talked smart, not acted smart

Feb 14, 2017
The unambitious and low-key budget is emblematic of the Narendra Modi government’s approach of trusting in only small, cautious, steps. So nobody expected that the defence allocations would be used to reorient an Indian military that’s been long in the rut. This would have been a disruptive thing to do to shake up the armed services which, owing to weak political direction and oversight have compelled governments to rubber-stamp whatever they decide is in the national interest.
Predictably, defence allocations of Rs 2.74 trillion falling to 1.63% of GDP has sparked concern, while ignoring the fact that an enlarged budget would have led to the squandering of the taxpayer’s money anyway. The problem at heart is this: The Indian military weighs its self-worth purely in terms of in-date weapons. Absent contrary political instructions as corrective, the preoccupation is with importing hardware, whether or not this is cost-effective, or even appropriate. The result is a mangled decision matrix in which instead of threats and grand strategy defining strategy, force structure, and weapons requirements, in that order, the existing force composition dictates the threat and the choice of armaments and strategy. Whence, the army’s money-guzzling three strike corps, that are way in excess of need, have monopolised the army’s modernisation and maintenance budgets, even though this capability is usable only in the desert and the plains, justified only by the “Pakistan threat”, and driven by a largely unimplementable ‘Cold Start’ strategy.
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Hindustan Time, February 14, 2017 

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