India’s defence budget is largest than that of is South Asian neighbors, not to mention its size and population. While India cites China its primary security threat; almost 80 percent of its defence forces are Pakistan centric, instigating implications for Pakistan’s security. The continuous hike in Indian defence budget since 2005 together with conventional asymmetry between India and Pakistan, is making Pakistan’s security calculus vulnerable. Despite the loopholes in Indian defence establishment and decision making process, there is a huge gap between Indian and Pakistani defence budgets.
In South Asia, India spends highest on its defence, which is three times the spending of Pakistan. Indian armed forces are also three times the size the Pakistan. In this regard, Indian defence spending and quantitative augmentation of its army is widening conventional instability in South Asia. However, at the same time, Indian conventional superiority could not help it in punishing Pakistan, a lingering desire of India since Kargil conflict to the Balalkot airstrikes. The enhancement in the capability matrix of India’s tri-services since 2008, Mumbai attacks is just an offshoot of aforementioned Indian desire. Since then, India has enhanced its defence budget, which has made India leading importer of military equipment.
The key elements for augmenting defence expenditures of India include its doctrinal evaluation, enmity with Pakistan, rising economic might, inventory obsolescence and aspiration to become a major power. Mainly starting from its failure in the Kargil conflict, the recommendations of Kargil Review Committee – constituted in 1999 by the then Indian Government – and growth of its economy became catalyst for improvement in India’s defence policy and modernization.
As per calculation by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), India ranks in top-5 international spender on defence. In 2019, India was the third largest military spender in the world. Its military expenditure grew by 6.8 per cent to US$71.1 bn. India’s tensions and rivalry with both Pakistan and China are among the major drivers for its increased military spending.
Indian aim is to make India a powerful state and one of the major global players. The economic growth rate of 7-8 percent is making India realize its strategic goals as evident from its weapon procurement, modernization and naval expansion. With all its inefficiencies, Indian defence budget 2020 and military modernization will act as catalyst from India to become a regionally competitive state.
Doctrinal Evolution, Budget Growth and Equipment Modernization. The Strategy relevance of India enhanced due to economic growth and liberalization in the 1990s that boosted morale of Indian defence forces. Similarly, India was also inspired by technology.
Since Operation Parakram failure, pre-emptive defence strategy hovered the minds of Indian defence establishment. Indian defence policy become more Pakistan centric. Overall, Indian doctrinal changes, modern weapons and technological procurement. Moreover, Indian act of violation of international border on February 26, 2019, that resulted in limited escalation between the two countries can also be explained and understood in the context of latest Indian military doctrines.
A classified version of Joint Doctrine of Indian Armed Forces (JDIAS) was circulated in 2006. So JDIAF which was publically presented in April 2017 is basically the second edition of the doctrine. It specifically delineates the threat spectrum for India. India has termed it as a “collusive threat” coming from Pakistan and China. It promotes surgical strikes as response to terrorism by stating that “the response to terror provocations could be in the form of surgical strikes.” These would be subsumed in the sub-conventional portion of the spectrum of armed conflict situations.” Conventional options for military counter terrorism against Pakistan are limited. So, it adopts the strategy of “Deterrence through Punishment”, contrary to “Deterrence through Denial”.
Although one cannot neglect the efforts of Indian growth of its defence budget, which is remarkable. The constant growth of Indian Defence Budget has increased militarization in the South Asia region. Despite its geopolitical importance, placing in the center of relatively stable neighborhood, India is much more aggressive state than ‘Nehruvian Practical Idealism’ and ‘Gandhi’s Pacifism’. The current force posture reflects much more assertiveness than the India of the 1990s.
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