Even as the economic slowdown in India has hit the defence budget the hardest this year with a record low spending of only 1.79 per cent of the GDP on the military,China continues to invest in the defence forces and has announced a robust 10 per cent hike in the next financial year,taking its military spending to over $119 billion.
The jump,even though consistent with the past many years that have seen a similar rise in defence spending by Beijing,has raised eyebrows in India,given that the financial situation has threatened to further widen the gap in the military capabilities of the two nations.
While India will spend close to $38 billion on the military this year,one-third of the Chinese budget,only a notional hike has been given to the Indian forces this year at just over 5 per cent. This hike,the lowest in over three decades,will not even be able to meet inflation as well as the rising Rupee Dollar price crucial in the import-driven defence sector.
The Chinese military,on the other hand,has managed to turn the tide and is now more or less self reliant and does not import large quantity of weapons like in the past.
Officials in the Indian defence establishment say the actual Chinese defence budget would be even higher than the projected $119 billion. Traditionally,the actual spending on defence in China is over 60 per cent more than the declared budget, an official said.
If the figure is correct,the total spending of China on its military would be upwards of $190 billion,an enviable number.
India has not signed any major defence deal in the current financial year other than a deal for basic trainer aircraft,additional Su 30 MKI fighters from Russia as well as a repeated order for Mi 17 V 5 helicopters.
Analysts say the disparity in the growth rate of the defence budgets of the two nations would hit the Indian Navy specially hard that is already straining to keep up with a rapidly expanding Chinese force that has already got a new aircraft carrier and is on the path to get two more in the next six years.