Bite the reforms bullet

One of the unfinished agendas of the Narendra Modi government’s first term is the reform and restructure of the defence ministry and the armed forces. The ministry is in the grip of a revenue-capital trap. It is spending more money on the revenue side-pensions and salaries-than on capital, i.e., acquiring defence hardware.

This has a direct bearing on the combat efficiency of the armed forces. All three services have a long list of pending acquisitions. The air force, for instance, needs at least 100 new fighter aircraft to replace its ageing MiG-21s. Each fully loaded fighter jet would cost at least Rs 350 crore. The navy needs new submarines and the army new tanks.

An easy way out would be to increase the defence budget, but this seems unlikely as defence already makes up over 16 per cent of central spending. Read More

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