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Many established military powers have developed their capabilities with significantly fewer financial resources than India, as the SIPRI Factsheet demonstrates. We may be able to take a few lessons from these nations. For the past few years, India ranked third among the top military spenders according to SIPRI. India, though, has since dropped to fourth place.

In India, defense spending is a “contested concept,” with more supporters of increased spending than against it. The former frequently complains that the budgetary allocations are far from adequate. Strategic specialists, military veterans, journalists, and even the departmentally connected standing committee of the Parliament on Defence support this proposal. The counter-narrative that India’s defense spending is reasonable and justified does not have much room. However, conclusions drawn from the recently released SIPRI Factsheet on “Trends in world military expenditure, 2022” ought to lend the counter-narrative more persuasive support.

Overshadowed by Russia

For the past few years, India ranked third among the top military spenders according to SIPRI. India, however, has dropped to fourth place in the most recent SIPRI Factsheet. Given that Russia, which has eclipsed India, is at war with Ukraine, this is, at best, a fleeting position. Russia does not have a substantial GDP base to support a higher level of defense expenditure over the long term, with or without the Ukraine War or any additional hostilities. Therefore, India would eventually reposition itself as the third-highest military spender and hold the top spot for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, doubters at home disregard India’s high ranking and continue to call for increased budgetary funding for the defense industry.

The SIPRI Factsheet stands out for the fact that several advanced industrial nations with similar or comparable GDP levels, such as the UK, Germany, France, South Korea, and Japan, are ranked behind India and experience a significant deficit in defense spending. For instance, India’s projected defense spending of $81.4 billion in 2022 will be at least 20% higher than that of the UK ($68.5 billion), around 50% higher than that of Germany ($55.8 billion) and France ($53.6 billion), and nearly twice as high as that of South Korea ($46.4 billion) and Japan ($46 billion). India is statistically far behind other established military superpowers like Italy, Australia, and Israel, which account for one-third to one-fourth of its defense spending figures. Most signifiAlthough the statistics presented above are positive by all measures, many other derivatives would put India’s defense spending in an even more favorable position. First, despite accounting for 3.6% of global defense spending, India only represents 3.4% of world GDP in nominal terms. Germany, for example, continues to rank higher than India in terms of GDP but spends far less. India ranks a dismal 18th in the list of trading nations in 2023 with a meager 1.8% of the global trade market share. These are a few representative global statistics used to demonstrate that India spends significantly more on defense than many developed nations and international economic leaders.

cantly, India spends $10,3 billion more than Pakistan onq

Second, according to SIPRI estimates, India’s defense spending is 2.4% higher than the global average, which is 2.2%. Comparatively speaking, very few nations, including the US (3.5%), Russia (4.1%), Israel (4.5%), Qatar (7%) Singapore (2.8%) Pakistan (2.6%) Colombia (3.1%) Algeria (4.8%) Kuwait (3.3%) and Greece (4.8%), allocate more budgetary funds to their defense sectors.

Third, India saw a 47% increase in defense spending in terms of decadal growth during the years 2013–22. In the top fifteen nations, only China (63%) and Canada (49%) have recorded faster growth rates.

Despite this, the proponents of increased defense spending may blissfully ignore the bitter pill identified in the SIPRI Factsheet as the cause of increased defense spending. Because of this, “personnel expenses (such as salaries and pensions) remained the largest expenditure category in the Indian military budget, accounting for roughly half of all military spending.” No other country’s statement of defense spending makes reference to such a high level of personnel costs.

Despite the facts and figures in the SIPRI Factsheet, many participants would still be skeptical of India’s ability to handle the challenge posed by China, whose official defense budget is at least 3.5 times that of India. Despite the fact that China faces significant dangers, defense spending is merely one of the

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