Defence budget lowest since 1962 war: Army chief

July 3rd, 2008 - 5:24 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 3 (IANS) Even as the Indian armed forces are undertaking a modernisation drive to maintain their deterrent capability, this year’s defence budget has slumped to below two percent of the GDP - the first time this has happened since the 1962 India-China war. “Though the defence budget for 2008-2009 is 10 percent higher than the previous year’s allocation, an analysis reveals that for the first time, since the India-China War of 1962, it has fallen below two percent of the GDP,” said Indian Army chief General Deepak Kapoor here on the sidelines of an event at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses.

According to Kapoor, there has been a persistent decline over the years from 3.38 percent of the GDP in 1987-88 to 1.98 percent this year - much below the global average.

The allocation for India’s defence budget has been raised by exactly 10 percent this year - from Rs.960 billion to Rs.1,056 billion.

This has raised a dilemma among military planners, who have to balance rightsizing of the defence forces along with inducting state-of-the-art weapons and equipment.

Kapoor also said that the budgetary allocation for the modernisation drive is very small.

“Sometimes it so happens that by the time a deal (for arms and equipment) fructifies, the financial year is over and the allocated amount lapses,” he pointed out.

Budget papers presented in parliament show that Rs.42.17 billion of the amount allocated for equipment purchases was unspent. Cumulatively, Rs.225.17 billion has been left unspent since 2002.

“There should be some provision of carrying over the amount to the next year or at least a percentage of it,” Kapoor maintained.

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