New Delhi: At a time when China has exponentially increased its military expenditure, the Indian Army’s hopes for modernisation, according to Vice Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Sarath Chand, has suffered a setback because of money allocated in Defence Budget 2018-19.
Lt Gen Sarath Chand has told the Parliamentary Panel on Defence that the budget is insufficient and that may bring an end to several ‘Make in India’ projects. “Allocation of Rs 21,388 crore foe modernisation is insufficient even to cater for committed payments of Rs 29.033 crore for 125 ongoing schemes, emergency procurement and other requirements,” the Army’s Vice Chief deposed. “The Budget 2018-19 has dashed our hopes and most of what has been achieved has actually received a little setback.”
Lt Gen Chand also raised several other budget-related concerns like the prospect of Future Ready Combat Vehicles and upgradation of existing equipment. “We have no choice but to leave out some priority acquisition cases. 63% of Army budget goes in to paying salaries, 14% for modernization. We need 20-25% of Army Budget for modernization,” he said, adding that while 68 per cent of Army’s equipment is vintage, only eight per cent is state-of-the-art.
In the most-recent defence budget, a sum of Rs 2.95 lakh crore – a hike of 7.81 per cent since last year’s budget – has been outlayed which is approximately 1.58 per cent of the country’s GDP. This, however, is the lowest share in terms of percentage vis-a-vis India’s GDP since 1962. Subsequent war against China that year had then led to a hike in the 1963 Union Budget.
Interestingly, Lt Gen Chand sounded the alarm bells on the same day that Army Chief Bipin Rawat acknowledged the military might of China. “Chinese have finally arrived. I can say that. They did not forget that military power should rise simultaneously with economy,” he said while lauding China’s efforts to boost military expenditure.