One should not expect India to cut down its Defence Budget when its border meets the borders of two hostile nations. We fought a war with Pakistan in 1947, 1965, 1971 and in 1999 (Kargil). India fought a major war with China in 1962. Last year standoff with China in Doklam had created a war-like situation. The crisis in Doklam was averted due to the diplomacy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi aided by former Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and then Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar (now Minister for External Affairs). A war that took place over border dispute remains unresolved. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has wisely allocated 3.18 lakh crores in her budget proposal for defence. If you remember, the same amount was proposed in the interim budget presented before elections.
Now, let us compare the budget allocation of China with India. China has increased its defence budget by 8.1 per cent raising it to 175 billion dollars in continuation of the modernisation policy of its defence forces. It goes without saying that the defence budget of China is more than that of India. China spends the highest amount on its defence after the United States of America. Even after increasing its defence expenditure to 175 billion dollars, China had said that in the past two years the increase in defence was nominal.
It is known that Pakistan has also its ‘share’ in China’s defence budget. Some so-called secular intellectuals say that India should reduce its expenditure on defence ignoring the ground realities of China and Pakistan. Who will tell them and make them understand that only a strong nation can talk of ‘peace’? This world does not give the right to live to the poor.
We also discuss the defence budget of Pakistan which is four times smaller than India. In 2018-19, Pakistan’s defence budget was Rs 1.26 trillion (Pakistani currency), equivalent to 11 billion US dollars. Pakistan is relentlessly engaged in strengthening its defence forces. In view of this India has to take care of its defence preparedness. We have to keep in mind the hostility of the two neighbouring countries.
During the Doklam crisis, we had seen intimidating posture of China. Some leaders of Pakistan always say ‘we will see India’ indirectly referring to beat India in war. Earlier it was Nawaz Sharif and now Imran Khan; their anti-India stance is discernable. Maybe our new generation not remember how Pakistan had captured our Aksai Chin area in the war of 1962 when Congress was in power at the Centre under Nehru. This area measures 37,244 square kilometers. It is full of glaciers. The area is equal to the area of Kashmir valley. We have to take back our area in Aksai Chin. One should not forget that China has a vulture’s eye on Arunachal Pradesh. Therefore, we have to increase our defence budget regularly.
When we talk of Pakistan, it is worth taking note of the way Pakistan released our Wing Commander Abhinandan after the Balakot strike, it (Pakistan) must have realised the strength of India. The operation in Balkot was like a thunder strike in which our fighter jets after striking target in Balkot returned safely to our bases. Pakistan bowed down and sent Abhinandan back to India. You also must have seen how Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan was making a statement in his Parliament on Balkot strike and release of Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan.
After the Pulwama attack, Pakistan was demolished by Indian diplomacy. Pakistan and China don’t like economic growth of India. Foreign Direct Investment in India is continuously increasing. No other country is having FDI as India is getting. India is getting FDI more than countries such as China and the United States. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been successful in inviting investments in India from The United States, Japan, South Korea, Germany, and Singapore by his diplomatic approach. Foreign investors have shown confidence in India’s story of economic growth under the Narendra Modi government. Without FDI quantum jump in industrial growth is not possible.
India should send a message to the world that we are not undermining other sectors of the economy by strengthening our defence preparedness. We also have to address the problem of growing unemployment in the country. It is a big challenge. For this, we have to immediately check the population growth which is eating into our resources at a much faster pace. Unemployment and population explosion are inter-related. We have to wage a long battle against it.
We can’t become Pakistan; the country has been spending money on defence forces ignoring other vital sectors of the society like education, health, and poverty alleviation.
(The writer is a Member of Rajya Sabha)
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