Persisting failure to build a robust defence production industry has ensured that India continues to remain in the strategically-vulnerable position of being the world’s largest arms importer, accounting for 12% of the global imports from 2013-2017.
Arms imports by India increased by 24% between 2008-2012 and 2013-2017 periods, as per data on international arms transfers released by global think-tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute on Monday.
India is followed by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE, China, Australia, Algeria, Iraq, Pakistan and Indonesia as the world’s top arms importers. The largest arms suppliers to India from 2013-2017 were Russia (62%), US (15%) and Israel (11%).
India remains the biggest buyer of weaponry from Russia and Israel. The US, as part of its foreign policy to counter China’s growing influence in Asia has notched up military sales to India — worth $15 billion over the last decade and up by 557% between 2008-2012 and 2013-2017 — to overtake several countries and displace Russia at the top spot for a couple of years.
China, with its systematic drive to build a strong defence-industrial base (DIB) figures among the world’s top-five arms exporters after the US, Russia, France and Germany. They together account for 74% of all arms exports. China’s biggest client are Pakistan, which receives 35% of its exports, and Bangladesh (19%).
India, however, continues to wallow with a fledgling DIB and its armed forces source 65% of their requirements from abroad. Successive governments failed to overhaul the Defence Research and Development Organisation.
Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Monday that defence PSUs and ordnance factories need to be “made a lot more dynamic.”