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Parliamentary panel recommends enhancing allocation for Defence R&D


NEW DELHI (PTI): The government should fix a "definite benchmark" percentage of the GDP for defence budget as military expenditure by neighbouring countries and the evolving global security scenario warrant such an outlay for the country to prepare for dealing with future security challenges, a Parliamentary panel has said.

It expressed "surprise" over the Defence Ministry not taking any action towards arriving at such a benchmark yet following its earlier recommendation.

In its report tabled on Wednesday, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence, specifically recommended putting adequate focus on developing futuristic drones and electronic warfare systems to confront future challenges.

"While appreciating the concern and the efforts made by the Ministry towards preparedness of the Defence Forces in the country, the committee feel that the recent wars in the international arena should act as a grim reminder that the nomenclature of war has really changed and defence preparedness in terms of an electronic warfare has become an imperative need for our nation," it said.

It said for ensuring such preparedness in view of the prevailing security scenario in the world today, there is a need for constant requirement of funds at regular intervals.

"The committee, therefore, would like to reiterate their earlier recommendation for fixing a definite benchmark percentage for defence expenditure as a country's GDP, which, they feel, will help in forming a right course for defence expenditure in the country," the report said.

India's defence budget in the last few years hovered around 1.8 to 1.97 per cent of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product).

The allocation of Rs 5.93 crore in the defence budget for 2023-24 was 13.18 per cent of total Central government expenditure and 1.97 per cent of the GDP.

The committee noted the defence ministry's submission in this context that the global "ideal" estimate for defence expenditure as a percentage of GDP is three percent.

It recommended in unequivocal terms that if not the global parameter of 3 per cent, feasibility may be explored to fix a benchmark as the country's GDP that will help in forming a right trajectory for the defence expenditure for the country.

The committee also strongly called for developing drone-based systems.

The committee "recommend that while designing and developing various drone based systems and anti-drone systems for modern warfare, these upcoming challenges may be taken into account to enable our forces in effectively dealing with prevailing threat perception."

"They also desire that updates regarding the progress of wearable human flight platforms be intimated to the Committee at the time of submitting the action taken statement," it said.

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