India is also among the top five economies of the world with the fastest GDP growth as of now and we are poised to be among the top three by year 2030, however when it comes to the defence budget, we have significantly failed to cop up with the security requirements of our country.Also Read - China's PLA Has Found 'Missing' Arunachal Boy: Indian Army

When it comes to per capita defence budget, we are far behind the global average and are ranked in bottom four in Asia. If we keep the Defence pensions away, our net budget allocation for Defence in year 2020-21 was about 3.37 lakh crore or less than 1.5% of our GDP. Surprisingly, this was just 2% hike over the previous year defence budget. This is totally insufficient knowing the current geo-strategic perspective of India. Also Read - Republic Day Parade This Year To Have 25 Tableaux, 16 Marching Contingents | Details Here

We have a huge task in the coming years. The reorganisation, modernisation and training of the forces is a major task, which will require funds. Galvan and Doklam like incidents indicate that India should be ready for a multi-pronged war and it will require funds too. Let’s analyse critical gaps and what do we expect from the defence budget 2021-22. Also Read - Indian Army Recruitment 2022: Notification Out For Technical Entry Scheme Course at | Details Inside

1. Combat Aircrafts for Indian Air Force- IAF is operating with a lesser number of operating squadrons due to phasing out of old aircrafts. Previous proposal of acquiring 126 MMRCA went into doldrums and finally only 36 Rafale could be ordered. Once again, a requirement of 114 MRCA is placed which must materialise at the earliest. In addition to this, indigenisation of equipment is also a concern and hence development of Tejas Mk II and Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft is a top priority. This will require an approximate budget of 38000 Crore Rupees.

2. Combat Helicopters- Perhaps India has one of the smallest fleets of combat helicopters. Even after acquiring AH-64 Apache from USA recently, we are far behind in providing coverage to our advancing forces. HAL has developed its light combat helicopter (Rudra) which is a good platform and has a high level of indigenisation too. Purchase of these helicopters will need an approximate amount of 5000 Crore Rupees.

3. Drones- As we know that future wars will be fought using drones. We have seen the same in the recent Ngorno-Karabakh war. So far India is relying on Israeli surveillance drones and have made little progress in the field of Armed Drones. The way China is equipping Pakistan with such platforms, India has a reason to worry and need to invest in two directions. First is to buy reliable platforms from across the world and at the same time develop own technology. Though there is no planning of purchase of these drones but a minimum allocation of about 10000 crore rupees is must.

4. Artillery Guns, Rockets & Missiles- The last major purchase of artillery guns happened in the eighties when we procured 155mm guns from Bofors- Sweden. Though minor purchases were made but the main equipment is aging, and we need an immediate replacement. In current scenario, high calibre rocket systems are a must and should constitute major part of our artillery. While India already has significant number of missiles in its arsenal, we are technologically lagging from the major world powers. India’s artillery modernisation program will be approximately another 10000 crore rupees.

5. Transport Fleet of Indian Air Force- At a time when we are moving into a different dimension of warfare, Transport fleet of Indian Air Force need an upgradation too. Our aging fleet of Antonov’s and Avro’s need to be replaced soon and naturally funds are required for this. India is in the process of signing a contract of 56 transport aircrafts from Airbus at a cost of about 18000 crore rupees.

6. Submarine Program- If we see our vast sea frontier, we are no where in terms of our submarine fleet. To have an effective second-strike capability as well as deterrence, India needs to triple its submarine fleet within next decade. To develop the current projects of 4 x nuclear powered submarines and 4 x Scorpene submarines, an additional fund allocation of about 20000 crores is needed.

7. Communication and electronic warfare equipment- If we compare ourselves with China, we have miles to go in terms of such equipment’s. In the current global scenario where all the forces are operating in multi-dimensional data-link-based communication matrix, we are nowhere. Huge investment is required in both procurement of equipment and developing own solutions.

8. Air Defence & Anti-Missile Systems- India is one of the few countries which are still using second world war Air Defence technology. This lacked the attention of our politicians for more than five decades. Despite of the fact that India ordered S-400 from Russia and developing own medium range air defence platforms, huge money is required to develop our surveillance grid, communication network and command and reporting channels.

9. Naval requirements- In today’s scenario, having an expeditionary force is a must and hence Indian Navy needs massive upgradation in terms of new warships, anti-submarine corvettes, Minesweeper ships and large battle cruisers. The way China has occupied South China sea and is flexing muscles in Indian Ocean, it is a prime priority too.

10. Integration of Combat Forces- India is proposing concept of Independent Battle Groups in the war. Future scenario will be different where the integration of all three services will be required to operate in a tactical environment. Naturally, this needs to be addressed in the budget too.

In a nutshell, if we calculate only the emergency and immediate requirements of the forces, we need a significant hike in the budget. More than 4 lakh Crore Rupees are required just for capital acquisitions while another 1 lakh Crore is needed for Research and development. In totality, India needs an additional allocation of not less than 2 Lakh Crore over and above our regular defence expenditure which our leaders must look into. They must choose wisely between Freebies or National Security. Previous governments have been ignoring the security needs which has already caused serious damage. Remember- We can think of prosperity only when we are secure.

(Amit Bansal is a Defence Strategist with keen interests in International Relations and Internal Security. He is also an author, blogger and poet.)

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The writer is solely responsible for any claims arising out of the contents of this article.