India has been replaced as the biggest recipient of foreign arms by China and Saudi Arabia,according to latest figures that have been made available by the US government.
While India topped the list of developing countries that imported conventional weapons in 2008,the value of foreign arms received last year has come down to $1.2 billion,taking the country down to No. 5 in the list of top weapon importers of the world.
The new figures drawn up by the US government have been made available in an annual report prepared by the US Congressional Research Service (CRS) which tracks arms imports by all developing nations. The value refers to arms that have been actually delivered to the importing nations and does not include weapon systems that are being manufactured within the country with foreign technology.
According to the report,India was the biggest recipient of foreign arms in 2008 along with Saudi Arabia with both nations receiving weapon systems worth $1.8 billion from developed nations including US,Russia,UK and France. But the value has dropped sharply for 2009 with India getting $1.2 billion worth of arms and countries like China and South Korea overtaking it as the leading importers of weapon systems.
The numbers coincide with an all-time low spending on the military in the 2008-09 budget when defence allocation slipped below two per cent of the GDP for the first time. While the allocation has since been increased and is now above the 2 per cent mark,the Defence Ministry returns millions of dollars allocated for fresh purchases every years. In 2009-10,the Ministry returned $1.5 billion that had been allocated for modernisation of the armed forces.
China,which received weapons worth $1.1 billion in 2008,upped its standing on the list from No. 7 to No. 2 in 2009 with imports worth $1.5 billion. While Saudi Arabia is on top of the list with arms received worth $2.7 billion,other countries include South Korea ($1.4 billion) and Egypt ($1.3 billion). The US government report does not specify what kind of weapons systems have been received by the nations.
Pakistan too has been shown as increasing the import of foreign arms. While the nation was at No. 10 in 2008 with $700 million,Pakistan received foreign arms worth $1 billion in 2009,taking it to No. 7 on the list,below Israel and India (both at $1.2 billion).