Recently, the Indian government has endorsed an Rs. 639 crores contract for 1.86 lac bullet-proof jackets which were much needed by the soldiers. The need for bulletproof jackets has been sensed for nearly a decade now.
Till now, the government was risking the lives of the soldiers in lieu of providing them with appropriate equipment. However, it’s a rare scenario where such a huge defense expenditure is justified.
Usually, In India, the money allotted to defense is spent more on revenue expenditure like paying salaries instead of capital expenditure.
In the defense budget 2017-18, Revenue expenditure saw a hike of 20 percent, overall comprising 67 percent of the entire budget.
In my opinion, the defense budget could better be allocated by shuffling between these two expenditures. Maybe, these bulletproof jackets could be acquired way before if this budget were more judiciously apportioned.
Corruption in Defense Procurement
India has been involved in multiple scams such as the 2013 chopper scam, the Barrack missile scandal, and it even goes back to the Kargil Coffin Scam in the defense sector in India.
Transparency International, in 2015, regrettably placed India under block D connoting “very high risk” for corruption in defense expenditure.
When there’s so much of corruption, the amount of Defense Expenditure actually needed is magnified and produced before us. We, the chief revenue-generators of the government, are not paying for the safety of the military, but are rather paying for the government’s greasy palms.
When I say defense expenditure should be reduced, I mean we shouldn’t be fed false and overstated statistics of money allocation, and transparency in defense spending should be increased. The real data should be made accessible to one and all.
Learning from the West
The trend in North America and Western Europe show that their expenditure on defense has fallen considerably since 2014. While in Asia, India has announced a hike of 6% in their defense budget whereas China has a hike of 8.1% in the year 2018.
When in all other spheres, we are in a mad rush of westernization, why lag behind here? Clearly, there must be something that made these nations divert their resources.
India already holds the second largest army and India’s military spending is ranked 7th in the world. It is time now; that India prioritizes development over defense.
For instance, if India does not reinvest into education, then it will not be able to sustain and maintain its military enormity and marvel, and will thus destroy its own future.
In the union budget of 2017-18, roughly Rs 80,000 crores were allocated to education, whereas Rs 2.74 lakh crores were allocated on defense. In 2018-19, the estimated budget for health, education, and social protection is Rs. 1.38 lakh crores, whereas the defense budget stands at Rs 2.95 lakh crores
Diplomacy over war
Many experts have pointed out that the more equipped a country is, the more are the chances of getting involved in a war.
The government should focus on establishing dialogues and increasing cultural and political diplomacy. Disputes can be solved with the help of diplomacy and war is only a one-time solution to it.
Look at North Korea, probably the most armed nation. North Korea, too, is swaying back to diplomacy. It recently had it’s meeting with China’s president Xi Jinping and got back an old friend. North Korea is also looking forward to its summit with US president Donald Trump, and South Korea.
As we all know, the majority of India’s defense spending is due to its relations with China and Pakistan. When a nation such as North Korea can make moves towards friendship, why can’t India, China, and Pakistan?
According to UNESCO, India has the lowest public expenditure on higher education per student in the world. It spends 6.5 times more on defense than it does on health.
Clearly, there’s a sort of political absurdity that’s caught India from decades now, such that it continues to place defense on such a high platform and all the other development factors not even anywhere near it.
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