Updated: May 22, 2018 6:49:04 pm
Emphasising that India cannot afford to lag behind in defence preparedness, a parliamentary committee has said that “nothing concrete” has been done for the implementation of the ‘strategic partnership model’ unveiled by the government a year ago.
The Committee on Estimates, headed by BJP veteran Murli Manohar Joshi, in its draft report also came down hard on insufficient budgetary allocation for the Armed forces, saying defence expenditure this year was the lowest since 1962 and the country cannot afford complacency when it needs to be prepared for a two-front war.
The draft report was adopted by the panel today and will now be placed before Parliament when it convenes for the monsoon session. The ‘strategic partnership model’, launched in May 2017, envisages a key role for private players in building military platforms in India in partnership with major global defence companies.
India cannot afford to lag behind in defence preparedness in view of the intensity and complexity of its security challenges due to the current geo political environment, the panel said. It added that there is urgent need to replace obsolete armaments with state of the art weapon systems for which substantial increase in capital budgeting is essential.
Discussing budgetary allocation, the panel emphasised the need for allocating adequate financial resources for preparedness both for current needs and expansion. “… the defence expenditure at 1.56 per cent of GDP was at the lowest level since 1962 when India China war was fought. In the current geo political scenario, a country of the size of India cannot afford complacency when it is a question of defence preparedness even for a two-front war while retaining its dominance in the Indian Ocean,” the committee said in the report.
The committee also expressed concern at the slow pace of the increase in the indigenisation of the defence sector. Modernisation plans should be accorded the highest priority to enable the services to meet the challenges concerning safety and security of the country, it said. Dependence on foreign suppliers, particularly for military hardware, not only results in expenditure on the import of defence equipments but makes the security of the country vulnerable during emergency situations as the supplier may not provide the required weapons or spare parts, it said.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has allocated Rs 2.95 lakh crore this year for the defence budget, an increase of 7.81 per cent over last year’s Rs 2.74 lakh crore.