The Congress, pointing at the Parliament Estimate Committee’s Report on Defence Production and Procurement, questioned the Centre on the declining defence spend. The report, submitted in the recently-concluded Monsoon session, states that defence spend currently stands at the lowest since 1962 when the Indo-China war was fought.
“The committee noted that defence expenditure as a percentage of total Central government expenditure has declined from 13 per cent in 2014-15 to 12 per cent in 2017-18. Defence expenditure as a percentage of GDP has ranged between 2 per cent in 2014-15 to 1.6 per cent in 2017-18. The defence expenditure at 1.6 per cent of GDP in 2017-18 was the lowest since 1962 when the India-China war was fought. The committee stated that in the current geopolitical scenario, India cannot afford complacency with regard to defence preparedness,” reads the report. In the Committee, which is headed by former BJP president Murli Manohar Joshi, 16 of the 30 members are from the BJP.
Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said that in the lack of a robust foreign policy by the NDA-led Centre, India’s neighbours are closing in. “Pakistan is indemnified by China. Nepal has been pushed into the Chinese corner by ill-conceived economic blockade carried out by the Narendra Modi government. The Yameen Government in Maldives threatens India regularly, saying withdraw your military personnel. There is a Chinese Port in Sri Lanka — the Hambantota Harbour. The entire waterfront of Colombo is being built by a Chinese company for about $1.4 billion. So the Chinese threat is real,” said Tewari.
Tewari questioned the government’s intent on defence preparedness in light of the declining spend. He also asked the government whether it dropped the proposal cleared by the previous UPA government with regard to the raising of the 17 Strike Corps, also called the Mountain Strike Corp. “If this is true, the country would like to know why it has been done and under whose pressure has this decision been taken,” said Tewari.
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