NAVY Chief Admiral Karambir Singh on Monday said that Navy’s reduced share in the defence budget was making it very difficult “to move with the nation which wants to become a USD 5 trillion economy by 2024 and give it impetus on the maritime front”.
Admiral Singh also said that while India offers to help many other countries in building their naval capabilities, it has remained “poor on delivery”. The Navy Chief batted for a Defence Diplomacy Fund to enable India to fulfil such commitments. He said a proposal for this fund was under consideration of the government.
Admiral Singh was delivering a lecture on ‘Indian Ocean – Changing Dynamic – Maritime Security Imperatives for India’ as part of a series held in the memory of late General BC Joshi, the 17th Chief of Army Staff of India.
“One of the challenges is long-term budgetary support required to build Naval capability. For example, building a ship may take years to complete. So long-term budgetary projections and understanding of resource envelope are important to plan comprehensive capability development. Specifically in case ofIndian Navy, we were 18 per cent of Defence budget in 2012-13, now we are down to 13 per cent. This way we find it very difficult to move with the nation which wants to become a USD 5 trillion economy by 2024 and give it impetus on the maritime front,” Admiral Singh said.
Lowest rise in budget allocation among armed forces
The Indian Navy has seen lowest rise in budget allocation among the three armed forces since 2012-13. If the budget allocations for 2012-13 and 2019-20 are compared, the Army’s allocation has increased by 133 per cent, Air Force’s by 62 per cent and Navy’s by 55 per cent.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has repeatedly talked about the goal of making India a USD 5 trillion economy in the next five years.
Asked if the budgetary cut had affected any of its projects, the Navy Chief said, “Because of the budgetary allocation we had to do a little bit of revamp of the procurement plan. So yes, it has to a limited extent.” He was interacting with reporters on the sidelines of the event.
Earlier, while highlighting that maritime security by its vary nature involves a large number of stake holders, Admiral Singh said, “…It includes Navy, Coast Guard, state governments, Director General Shipping, DG Light Houses, Fisheries, Ministries Home Affairs, Earth Sciences, Petroleum and many more. Coordinating the efforts of these stakeholders is humongous task…”
Referring to India’s defence diplomacy in Indian Ocean Region, he said, “India is looked at as a net security provider in the Indian Ocean Region. We go to various countries that require help in terms of capability building. We make a lot of promises but we are poor on delivery. There was a task force on defence diplomacy which recommended that there should be a defence diplomacy fund.
So, if the Army Chief goes to a particular place and says certain equipment will be given, when he comes back he shouldn’t be fighting for next two years get the items delivered. It should be done quickly. Defence diplomacy fund will cut down the time between promise and delivery…”
Admiral Singh, who assumed the charge of Chief of Naval Staff in May this year, added, “The non-military marine capability development is going a little slow. Another challenge is absorption of new technology in our sector which has not kept pace with global standards and best practices. This is relevant to weapons, sensor technologies, niche equipment, ship construction technologies and adsorption of new verticals, like artificial intelligence and quantum computing, etc. The overall maritime consciousness and awareness among the large polity needs concerted attention…”
Highlighting that resource competition is also a challenge, he said, “There are large resources in our Exclusive Economic Zone, which is two-thirds of our landmass. Exploration, energy, fish, oil and the seabed, everything is ours but we have not yet harnessed much of this. We need to have comprehensive plan to harness the potential of the ocean.
Other nations have moved quickly on the issues of delimitation of maritime boundaries as well as filing claim for extended continental shelves, which we haven’t done as yet.”