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India’s import of arms decreases by 33 per cent, says SIPRI


India’s import of arms decreased by 33 per cent between 2011-15 and 2016-20 and Russia was the most affected supplier, according to a report released on Monday by Stockholm-based defence think-tank SIPRI. It said the drop in Indian arms imports seemed to have been the result of the country’s complex procurement processes combined with an attempt to reduce its dependence on Russian arms.

In the last few years, India has taken a series of measures to boost domestic defence industry with an aim to reduce dependence on imported military platforms and hardware.

In reply to a question in Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik said approval (Acceptance of Necessity) was given to 112 proposals between 2018-19 and 2020-21 (till December) worth around Rs 1.99 lakh crore under various categories of capital acquisition to promote the domestic defence manufacturing.

The report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said, “Arms imports by India decreased by 33 per cent between 2011-15 and 2016-20. Russia was the most affected supplier, although India’s imports of US arms also fell, by 46 per cent.”

“The drop in Indian arms imports seems to have been mainly due to its complex procurement processes, combined with an attempt to reduce its dependence on Russian arms. India is planning large-scale arms imports in the coming years from several suppliers,” it said.

The government has been majorly focusing on boosting domestic defence production and set a target of Rs 1.75 lakh crore (USD 25 billion) turnover in defence manufacturing by 2025.

In May, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman rolled out a number of reform measures for the defence sector including making separate budgetary outlay to procure Indian-made military hardware, increasing FDI limit from 49 per cent to 74 per cent under the automatic route and generating a year-wise negative list of weapons which won’t be imported.

The SIPRI report said Russia and China both saw their arms exports falling. Arms exports by Russia, which accounted for 20 per cent of all exports of major arms in 2016-20, dropped by 22 per cent to roughly the same level as in 2006-10.

“The bulk — around 90 per cent — of this decrease was attributable to a 53 per cent fall in its arms exports to India,” it said.

“Russia substantially increased its arms transfers to China, Algeria and Egypt between 2011-15 and 2016-20, but this did not offset the large drop in its arms exports to India,” said Alexandra Kuimova, a researcher with the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Programme.

The report said exports by China, the world’s fifth largest arms exporter in 2016-20, decreased by 7.8 per cent between 2011-15 and 2016-20. Chinese arms exports accounted for 5.2 per cent of total arms exports in 2016-20. Pakistan, Bangladesh and Algeria were the largest recipients of Chinese arms, it added.

The SIPRI said the US remained the largest arms exporter, increasing its global share of arms exports from 32 to 37 per cent between 2011-15 and 2016-20, adding it supplied major arms to 96 states in 2016-20, far more than any other supplier.

“Almost half (47 per cent) of US arms transfers went to the Middle East. Saudi Arabia alone accounted for 24 per cent of total US arms exports. The 15 per cent increase in US arms exports between 2011-15 and 2016-20 further widened the gap between the US and second largest arms exporter Russia,” the report noted.

It said France increased its exports of major arms by 44 per cent and accounted for 8.2 percent of global arms exports in 2016-20. “India, Egypt and Qatar together received 59 per cent of French arms exports,” it said.

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