With 12% of global imports, India tops list of arms buyers: Report
NEW DELHI: Persisting failure to build a robust defence production industry has ensured that India continues to remain in the strategically-vulnerable position of being the world’s largest arms importer, accounting for 12% of the global imports from 2013-2017.
Arms imports by India + increased by 24% between 2008-2012 and 2013-2017 periods, as per data on international arms transfers released by global think-tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute on Monday.India is followed by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE, China, Australia, Algeria, Iraq, Pakistan and Indonesia as the world’s top arms importers. The largest arms suppliers to India from 2013-2017 were Russia (62%), US (15%) and Israel (11%).
India remains the biggest buyer of weaponry from Russia and Israel. The US, as part of its foreign policy to counter China’s growing influence in Asia has notched up military sales to India — worth $15 billion over the last decade and up by 557% between 2008-2012 and 2013-2017 — to overtake several countries and displace Russia at the top spot for a couple of years.
SIPRI, on its part said, “Arms transfers are often used as a US foreign policy tool to forge new strategic partnerships. As part of its efforts to offset China’s growing influence in Asia and Oceania, for example, the US has strengthened its ties with India, Its arms deliveries to India rose by 557% between 2008-2012 and 2013-2017.”
China, with its systematic drive to build a strong defence-industrial base (DIB) figures among the world’s top-five arms exporters after the US, Russia, France and Germany. They together account for 74% of all arms exports. China’s biggest client are Pakistan, which receives 35% of its exports, and Bangladesh (19%).
India, however, continues to wallow with a fledgling DIB, with the armed forces sourcing 65% of their requirements from abroad.
Successive governments have failed to drastically overhaul the DRDO and its 50 labs, five defence PSUs, four shipyards and 41 ordnance factories to ensure they deliver without huge cost and time overruns. Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman, speaking at a function on Monday, herself admitted that though defence PSUs and ordnance factories have a lot of potential, they need to be “revived, revitalised and made a lot more dynamic”.
India has also made little headway in getting its private sector to take to defence production in a big way. The NDA government’s much-touted “Make in India” policy with foreign collaboration has also come a cropper, with no major defence production project actually taking off in the last four years.
As was first reported by TOI last October, at least six major mega projects worth Rs 3.5 lakh crore, from fighters and submarines to helicopters and infantry combat vehicles, are stuck at different stages. Similarly, India has attracted just a measly Rs 1.17 crore as foreign direct investment in the defence production sector in the last four years.