India top arms importer: SIPRI report

Estimated read time 5 min read

By  our Foreign  Correspondent

Stockholm, March  13  (IVC)     India was the  world’s  top arms importer  during the period 2019-23 with an increase of  4.7  per cent   compared  with  the period 2014-18 , according to  the Swedish  think  tank Stockholm International  Peace Research Institute  (SIPRI).

                At  the  same time , arms import by  European countries increased by  94  per  cent between 2014-18  and 2019-23   which   comes  in the backdrop  of the war in Ukraine, the   SIPRI  report revealed.

                “Although Russia remained India’s main arms supplier  (accounting  for 36  per  cent of  its arms  imports  )  this  was the  first  five-year  period since  1960-64  when deliveries  from Russia (or the Soviet  Union prior  to  1991)   made  up  less than  half of India’s  arms imports” as  per  new  data  on  international  arms transfers  from SIPRI released  here on March 11.  “ Nine  of  the 10  biggest arms  importers  during 2019-23 , including   the top three – India, Saudi Arabia and Qatar- were    in  Asia and  Oceania or  West  Asia .  Ukraine became  the  fourth biggest  arms importer   after  it  received   transfers  of major arms in 2022-23”.

                In the  interim Budget presented in February  for  India’s financial year  2024-25   the  total allocation for  the Defense  Ministry  was  at Rs 6.2  lakh crore  of which  the capital allocation , for new procurements  was Rs 1.72  lakh  crore , 5.78 per  cent  higher  than  the  Budget Estimates of  last year.  India seems to have come  back  to the  top slot in arms imports  after briefly ceding  space  to  Saudi  Arabia  in  the  past, the   report  added.

                Imports of  Pakistan ,  the  fifth  largest  arms  importer  during 2019-23 , went  up  by  43  per cent , with China supplying as  much  as 82  per  cent  of its  arms imports.

                Arms  exports of the  world’s  largest  supplier , the United  States of America  (USA)  grew  by  17  per  cent  between 2014-18  and 2019-23  while those  by Russia  fell more  than half that  is  53  per  cent.  At  the  same  time , France  emerged as the  world’s  second largest  arms  supplier as  its  exports  grew by  47  per  cent.

                Over  one   half  of  arms   imports  by   European countries , 55  per  cent ,  in  2019-23 were  from the  USA ,  up  from 35  per  cent in 2014-18.  “Europe  is  accountable   for  about  a  third  of  global arms  exports,  including  large   volumes  going  outside  the  region, reflecting  Europe’s  strong  military-industrial  capacity” said SIPRI’s   director  Dan Smith.

                In  this  regard, Mathew  George , Director  of  the  SIPRI  arms transfers program me, said the USA  had increased  its  global role as an arms supplier –an  important   aspect of  its  foreign policy- exporting   to more   countries  than it has ever  done in  the  past.

                On France,  which  is  now  the  second  largest arms supplier , the  report  said  42  per  cent of  its  arms went  to  states  in Asia and  Oceania  and another   34  per  cent to the  West  Asia.

                “The  largest single  recipient  of French  arms  exports was   India  which  accounted  for  nearly  30  per  cent.  The  increase  in French  arms exports  was  largely     due  to  deliveries of  combat  aircraft  to  India , Qatar and Egypt” the report stated. “With  many  high  value  arms on order –including  nearly  800 combat aircraft  and  combat  helicopters – European  arms  imports are  likely  to  remain at  a  high  level “  said Peter  Wizeman, senior  researcher with the SIPRI  arms transfers program me.

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