India Invests in Maritime Security

India’s commitment to the long term development of its naval forces is reflected in the world’s largest democracy having reached another milestone: according to the Swedish think tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) India is now the world’s largest weapons importer.

SIPRI, largely regarded as being one of the world’s leading think tanks in, has calculated that while implementing its plans to modernise its military and achieve ever greater international standing, India’s weapons imports have overtaken China’s.

Confirming SIPRI’s research, Rahul Bedi, a South Asia analyst with London-based Jane’s Defence Weekly, recently commented that “India has ambitions to become first a continental and (then) a regional power,” adding that “To become a big boy, you need to project your power.

According to the think tank’s report, in the period between 2006 and 2010 India accounted for 9 per cent of all international arms imports. Experts say that they expect India to maintain pole position for the foreseeable future.

In regards to overall arms imports Siemon Wezeman, a senior fellow at the institute, stated that “Just from what they have already ordered, we know that in the coming few years India will be the top importer.” At the time of writing India’s Defence Ministry spokesman, Sitanshu Kar, has as yet to comment on SIPRI’s findings, declining to make any statements until having had the chance to read the report.

While its economy booms, and its requirement to protect economic interests abroad increase, India is spending billions of dollars on the acquisition of fighter jets and aircraft carriers. The country’s growing power is reflected in India’s push for a greater international role, including a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council. Rahul Bedi of Janes has suggested that to achieve this particular ambition India would have to modernise its military and take part in more global operations. Particular focus would have to be given to assisting countries in the aftermath of natural disasters as well as participating in peacekeeping missions.

As things currently stand India is awaiting the delivery of a $2.3 billion rebuilt aircraft carrier from Russia, is in the process of building another aircraft carrier itself and has placed orders for six submarines – a contract worth around $4.5 billion to France.

India’s defence budget for the coming year is calculated at approximately Rs. 1.5 trillion ($32.5 billion), this is a 40 per cent increase from 2009. With the emerging super power expected to spend in excess of $80 billion over the next decade, governments and private companies are lining up to do business.

In the maritime sector alone India has plans to buy a series of large amphibious landing ships at a cost of around $300 million to $500 million each and, according to SIPRI’s Siemon Wezeman, is reported to be discussing a submarine order worth in excess of $10 billion.

In summarising India’s defence spending spree Rahul Bedi of Janes  said that “The kind of purchases that India is buying, no country in the world buys,” adding that “What is in the pipeline is huge.


Mark Lowe, Tuesday 15 March 2011


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