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India fourth largest military spender globally in 2023: SIPRI report

NEW DELHI (PTI): India was the fourth largest military spender globally in 2023 with an expenditure of USD 83.6 billion, behind the US, China and Russia, according to a report by an independent international think-tank.

The report by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) shared on its website in April also said the "rise" in global military spending last year can be attributed "primarily to the ongoing war in Ukraine and escalating geopolitical tensions in Asia and Oceania and the Middle East".

The military expenditure went up in all five geographical regions, with major spending increases recorded in Europe, Asia and Oceania and the Middle East, it said.

The report comes amid ongoing conflicts in various parts of the world such as the ones involving Israel-Hamas, Iran-Israel, Russian-Ukraine besides volatility in the Red Sea region.

"World military expenditure increased for the ninth consecutive year in 2023, reaching a total of USD 2443 billion. The 6.8 per cent increase in 2023 was the steepest year-on-year rise since 2009 and pushed global spending to the highest level SIPRI has ever recorded," according to the report.

The world military burden – defined as military spending as a percentage of global gross domestic product (GDP) – increased to 2.3 per cent in 2023. Average military expenditure as a share of government expenditure rose by 0.4 percentage points to 6.9 per cent in 2023 and world military spending per person was the highest since 1990 at USD 306, it added.

With military expenditure of USD 83.6 billion in 2023, India was the "fourth largest spender globally".

Indian spending was up by 4.2 per cent from 2022 and by 44 per cent from 2014. The increase in India's military spending was "mainly a result of growing personnel and operations costs" which made up almost 80 per cent of the total military budget in 2023, the SIPRI report claimed.

"This aligns with the government's priority to strengthen the operational readiness of the armed forces amid ongoing tensions with China and Pakistan. In comparison, capital outlays to fund military procurement remained relatively stable at around 22 per cent of the budget in 2023," it said.

A total of 75 per cent of these outlays went towards equipments produced domestically, which was the highest level ever and up from 68 per cent in the previous year. The continued shift towards domestic procurement reflects India's goal of becoming self-reliant in arms development and production, the think-tank said in its report fact sheet shared on its website.

The Indian Army has maintained that deployment of its troops and other elements along the LAC is "extremely robust" and "balanced".

The eastern Ladakh border standoff erupted on May 5, 2020, following a violent clash in the Pangong Lake area. The ties between India and China nose-dived significantly following the clash in the Galwan Valley in June 2020 that marked the most serious military conflict between the two sides in decades.

SIPRI is an independent international institute dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament. Established in 1966, it provides data, analysis and recommendations based on open sources to policymakers, researchers, media and the interested public.

The Stockholm-based think-tank monitors developments in military expenditure worldwide and maintains the most comprehensive, consistent and extensive publicly available data source on military expenditure, according to its online portal.

The US military spending was USD 916 billion in 2023, which was 2.3 per cent more than in 2022 and 9.9 per cent more than in 2014, the report said.

The US remained by far the largest spender in the world, allocating 3.1 times more to the military than the second largest spender China. "The biggest percentage increase among all US military spending categories in 2023 was for 'research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E)".

The Stockholm-based think-tank also said in its report that Ukraine was the "eighth largest spender" in 2023 after a spending surge of 51 per cent to reach USD 64.8 billion. This gave Ukraine "a military burden of 37 per cent and represented 58 per cent of total government spending".

"Ukraine's military spending in 2023 was 59 per cent the size of Russia's. However, Ukraine also received at least USD 35 billion in military aid during the year, including USD 25.4 billion from the US. Combined, this aid and Ukraine's own military spending were equivalent to about 91 per cent of Russian spending," the report claimed.

According to the report, Russia's military spending increased by 24 per cent to an estimated USD 109 billion in 2023.

"China, the world's second largest military spender, allocated an estimated USD 296 billion to the military in 2023, an increase of 6 per cent from 2022. This was the 29th consecutive year-on-year rise in China's military expenditure. China accounted for half of total military spending across the Asia and Oceania region. Several of China's neighbours have linked their own spending increases to China's rising military expenditure," the Stockholm-based think-tank claimed in its report.

In 2023, the 31 NATO members accounted for USD 1,341 billion, equal to 55 per cent of the world's military expenditure, the report said.

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