BY ARUL LOUIS
New York– Spurred by tensions along its borders, India’s defence spending rose by nearly six per cent to $81.4 billion last year, ranking it fourth in military expenditures, according to an analysis by SIPRI, the premier think-tank tracking military spending.
The increase in India’s spending was attributed to “the effects of its border tensions with China and Pakistan” by the Stockholm Peace Research Institute better known by its initials, SIPRI, in the latest edition of its Trends in World Military Expenditure report released this week.
New Delhi’s “expenditure on capital outlays, which funds equipment upgrades for the armed forces and to the military infrastructure along its disputed border with China, amounted to 23 per cent of total military spending in 2022,” it said.
China, the second highest military spender, is estimated to have spent $292 billion last year, the report added.
The military expenditure of Pakistan, which is facing a financial crisis, shrunk to $10.3 billion from $11.3 billion in 2021, according to SIPRI data.
Personnel expenses like salaries and pensions “remained the largest expenditure category in the Indian military budget, accounting for around half of all military spending,” the report said.
India’s military expenditure was $76.6 billion in 2021, according to SIPRI.
Despite the increase, India’s ranking in military expenditures slid from third place in 2021 to fourth because Russia, which had been in fifth place that year, ramped up its spending by 9.2 per cent to $86.4 billion in a year that it invaded Ukraine to displace India, according to the report.
With $877 billion in military spending last year, the US dwarfed all others, accounting for 39 per cent of the global military spending of $2.24 trillion, according to the report.
China’s share of the total military spending was 13 per cent, while India’s share was 3.6 per cent, the report said.
Saudi Arabia, with an increase of 16 per cent from the previous year to $75 billion leapfrogged from the eighth spot to the fifth spot displacing Britain, which spent $68.5 billion, according to the report.
Another Gulf region country Qatar, increased its military spending by 27 per cent to $15.4 billion, while Kuwait showed a decrease of 11 per cent to $8.2 billion, it said.
According to the Trends report, China’s military expenditure has increased for 28 consecutive years, “the longest uninterrupted period of spending growth made by any country in the SIPRI Military Expenditure Database”, but it was showing signs of slowing down.
“The growth rate of 4.2 per cent in 2022 was the second lowest rate of annual growth recorded by China since 1995”, with the lowest rate in the period being 2.6 per cent in 2021, it said.
The spending pattern follows priorities reaffirmed by the Communist Party Congress last year, “which placed a strong focus on boosting China’s arms-industrial base and promoting emerging military technologies, including military applications of artificial intelligence,” according to the report.
Military spending calculated as a share of the GDP was 2.4 per cent for India, an estimated 1.6 per cent for China and 2.6 per cent for Pakistan. (IANS)