New Delhi: With increasing tension along the borders with both China and Pakistan, Defence budget 2021-22 is likely to be given a hike touching almost Rs six lakh crore enable it to focus on modernisation plan of the Armed Forces for the next five years and a two-year roll-on acquisition plan is also being made.
Indian Defence forces are moving ahead with pace to become ‘Atmanirbhar’ with minimum dependence on foreign weapons, equipment and technology.
Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General MM Naravane had said, “We had got the biggest chunk of the national budget that was 15 per cent of the national budget last year but this year situation being more demanding due to the ongoing tensions with China along the LAC, we expect to get a higher budget this year.”
General Naravane also emphasised on the need for technological advancements that require a high budget. In view of the challenge of the China People’s Liberation Army in Ladakh and the continued treachery of Pakistan along the Line of Control, a long-term outline of military preparations is being prepared in the Ministry of Defence’s Military Department. After the creation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff, the defence budget of this time will be allocated on the basis of the joint modernisation roadmap of the three wings of the armed forces.
Talks are going on with the Finance Ministry to create a Defence Modernisation Fund which gets carried out to next year in case it is not spent without getting lapse. The Ministry has emphasised that military procurement and construction of infrastructure facilities such as roads and bridges etc. goes on for a long time, so it is not possible to spend the budget in a year.
There have been indications that not only will the budget be arranged for the expenditure in the defence sector for one year but also according to the estimate of the next five years in the budget. It is estimated that this time there will be an unprecedented increase in the defence budget, giving a strong message to China.
A provision of Rs 4,71,000 crore was made in the defence budget for the year 2020-21, but in this, Rs 1,33,000 was only for pension. So there was only Rs 3,23,000 crore left for defence expenditure. There was also a provision of about Rs 1,00,000 crore for defence modernisation.
The Ministry has sound reasons for more defence budget this time. The target is to complete the work of the integration of the three wings of the armed forces in the next three years. For this, these three new commands have to be created:
1. Defence Space agency
2. Defence Cyber Agency
3. Military Forces Special Operations Division.
Two other commands whose blueprints are being prepared by involving the three armies are:
1. Air Defence Command
2. Sea Command
The Ministry of Defence is also continuously working on reducing its pension budget which has increased from Rs 1,17,000 crore to 1,33,000 crore. Initiatives have been taken to increase the age of retirement of soldiers. According to defence sources, work is also underway on a scheme for the officers of the Short Service Commission so that the expenditure of pension on this head can also be eliminated.
However, India’s defence budget remains nowhere compared to China. China has a defence budget of about US$45 billion which is five times more than India’s defence budget. Officially China’s defence budget was said to be US$167 billion, but according to an estimate by the International Institute of Strategic Affairs, Sipri, the Chinese budget is more than US$254 billion.
Two major steps are also being taken for the in-house resources of the defence forces. A Defence Renewal Fund will be created in which funds will be raised from the monetisation of defence sector land. Secondly, Rs 40,000 crore will be raised in the next eight years through National Building Construction Corporation Limited on the lines of self-financing to build 80 thousand houses of soldiers.
Apart from this, the Ministry of Defence has leased land from governments in many states and the state governments require land for roads and other facilities.
These plans will be instrumental in strengthening the defence forces with the spirit of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat.’