Author: Jasjit Singh
Publisher: Knowledge World
ISBN/UPC (if available): N/A
A developing country like India should spend the barest minimum on defence; but that expenditure must generate a credible fighting force. India has come a long way from the debate and perceptions of defence expenditure being an alternate competitive choice for resources which should, if possible, be spent entirely on development. The assumption was that since we wanted to live in peace, peace will result and hence defence spending would be infructuous. Defence forces were being reduced after independence based on this belief. Pakistan’s aggressions changed the thinking; but it was the Chinese invasion of 1962 that forced change of perceptions. But even four decades later the defence-development debate has not gone away. In fact it tends to resurface again and again, especially when resource crunch dominates.
Our defence has experienced a steady decrease in spending since the late 1980s. From 3.6% of the GDP in 1987, defence spending came down to 2.3 now. Modernisation has suffered in particular as a consequence of decline in spending especially since manpower costs have been rising and along with many other segments constitute the pre-committed expenditure leaving little flexibility to planers. Defence planning since the mid-1980s has been erratic to say the least. This has had a deleterious impact on our defence capability. This was no doubt part of Pakistan’s assumptions in launching the Kargil War last year.
There is a critical necessity to look at our budgeting and defence spending for the future. As a state with nuclear weapons, the costs of nuclear arsenal have to be absorbed in the defence budget. At the same time the reality of China, Pakistan and India possessing nuclear weapons requires that we maintain a high level of conventional military capability so that nuclear threshold is raised as high as possible.
Threat assessment forms the basis of defence policy. But what is mostly left out is resource assessment. For a developing country this is not an easy task. But without it defence planning remains meaningless. This book attempts an estimate of future fiscal resources required for defence. There are many angles form which the issues can be seen. But the fact that defence capability and spending tend to be mostly evolutionary provides us with a methodological approach based on historical data. The study concludes that India could provide for credible affordable deterrence by an investment of around 3.1% of the GDP for the next fifteen years. But some policy changes ranging from decision making to self-reliance, manpower policies and budgeting system will be needed if high-technology high-quality fighting force is to be sustained.