India defence budget: With belligerent China constantly increasing its defence expenditure at alarming rates, virtually every Chinese neighbour in East Asia is witnessing cold hostilities and a hot border. With military adventurism in mind, Xi’s China has engaged Asian countries in a cold and hot war that needs an enlarged defence budget to sustain the heat of these border tensions. In the wake of these Japan-Russia, China-Japan, or China-Taiwan-related escalated military tensions, India too can’t see its defence budget in isolation.
Skyrocketing military bills
Recently, China hiked its defence budget by 7. 2 percent. This is marginally higher than last year’s military budget. The increased defence spending has now touched the 1.55 trillion yuan (about USD 225 billion) mark. This is the eighth consecutive year that China has announced a single-digit percentage point increase in its military spending. Last year, China’s defence budget was pegged at 1.45 trillion yuan.
After the US, which allocated USD 816 billion for defence in 2023, China is the second-largest spender on defence. China’s defence spending is three times larger than India’s defence bill. India has allocated Rs 5.94 lakh crore (about USD 72.6 billion) for defence spending in the current financial year, FY 2023–24. It is a jump of 13%, but the worrying thing is that a large chunk of it is meant for pensions, and little is left for capital expenditure.
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Taiwanese authorities recently increased the 2023 national defence budget to more than $500 billion Taiwanese dollars ($19 billion USD). This is a roughly 15% increase from 2022 allocations. In response to concerns over regional security and threats from China and North Korea, Japan increased its defence spending for 2023 to a record 6.8 trillion yen ($55 billion), a sharp increase of 20 percent in its defence expenditure.
To attain an unassailable advantage in the Indo-Pacific, India has to substantially increase its defence spending, particularly defence capex. Only then can India afford a full squadron of fighter aircraft for the Air Force, more nuclear-powered submarines, or a third aircraft carrier to simultaneously patrol and cover the Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal, and Indo-Pacific theatres.
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To keep the Chinese threat in check, every nation in East Asia is taking aggressive measures to bolster its defence capabilities. India has to accelerate and rejig its defence budget to bridge the gap in border infrastructure and the number of arsenals; otherwise, substandard Chinese weapons, aircraft, and submarines in abundance can be an overwhelming threat.
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