New Delhi (Sputnik) — With an increase of around one-fourth in its arms import bills over the last five years, India remains among the largest importers of arms in the world, spending tens of billions annually despite its ambitious ‘Make in India' program, aimed at promoting local production.
According to the SIPRI report's estimates, India's overall imports climbed 24% in the last five years and its import volume accounts for nearly 12% of all global imports, the study highlights.
With imports accounting for around 60-65% of the country's military requirements, India has inked a raft of contracts during the last decade for fighter jets, special operations aircraft, submarine hunter planes, lightweight howitzers, artillery guns and other weapons and systems with foreign countries.
"It is a worrying trend and it is a matter of concern for India, because we have neglected long-term defense acquisition planning for the last fifty years. India does not have a correct analysis of threat perceptions and it lacks a national strategic doctrine. In the absence of such a doctrine, our acquisitions will continue to be haphazard," Lt General (Retired) Shankar Prasad told Sputnik.
When asked why the ‘Make in India' plan wasn't showing any results regarding local production, he suggested that the Indian government should emphasize local research and development first if it expects local industries to produce high-quality arms.
"You need to encourage your own industries to participate in it and support it too. Without such support, the Make in India plan is hard to [implement]. No local industrialist is going to set up an industry and also have the wherewithal to invest in research and development," Lt General (Retired) Shankar Prasad added.
Russia remained India's top arms supplier; it accounted for 62% of India's arms imports between 2013 and 2017. Russia was followed by the US (15%) and Israel (11%).
Among India's Asian counterparts, Pakistan's imports fell by 36% between 2008-12 and 2013-17; the country accounted for 2.8% of global arms imports in the last five years. China's arms imports fell 19 percent between 2008-12 and 2013-17. While China was the world's fifth-largest arms importer in 2013-17, China has also emerged as the fifth largest arms exporter, the report added.
The report also says that the US recorded a huge growth in its arms exports to India, recording over 550% growth in 2013-17 compared with the previous five years. As a result, the US has become India's second-largest supplier.
In contrast, Pakistan's imports from the US dropped by 76% in 2013-17 compared with 2008-12, while it emerged as the largest recipient of Chinese arms exports, according to the report released by SIPRI on Monday.
The views and opinions expressed by Shankar Prasad are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect Sputnik's position.