At $76.6B, India's 2021 military expenditure third-highest in world
India in 2021 became the world's third-highest military spender, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said on Monday. SIPRI said India's military spending—amounting to $76.6 billion in 2021—grew by 0.9% from 2020 and by 33% from 2012. Meanwhile, the US and China occupied first and second places on this list. Also, in 2021, world military expenditure reached an all-time high of $2.1 trillion.
- India is looking to emerge as one of the world's most powerful militaries and develop a self-reliant modern defense industry.
- Last year, PM Narendra Modi said, "For the first time after Independence, big reforms are taking place in the defense sector."
- He said a single-window system—instead of previous policies that were a "hindrance"—was in place, leading to a rise in the industry's confidence.
SIPRI noted the overall global military expenditure rose by 0.7% in real terms last year, reaching $2.113 trillion. "The five largest spenders in 2021 were the United States, China, India, the United Kingdom, and Russia, together accounting for 62% of [total] expenditure," SIPRI said in a statement. "Even amid the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, world military spending hit record levels," it added.
India's border disputes with China and Pakistan have led it to prioritize its armed forces, noted SIPRI. Its report said that 64% of capital allocations in India's defense budget for 2021 were earmarked for acquiring domestically-produced arms. "Amid ongoing tensions and border disputes with China and Pakistan...India has prioritized the modernization of its armed forces and self-reliance in arms production," according to SIPRI.
With a decline of 1.4%, the US military's spending was down to $801 billion in 2021, SIPRI's report said. It also mentioned that between 2012 and 2021, the US raised funding for military research and development by 24%, but reduced spending on arms purchases by 6.4%. Meanwhile, China witnessed an increase of 4.7% in military spending to $293 billion in 2021 compared to 2020.
On the other hand, the UK spent $68.4 billion on defense in 2021—a rise of 3% from 2020. Russia secured the fifth spot, according to SIPRI. "Russia increased its military expenditure by 2.9% in 2021, to $65.9 billion, at a time when it was building up its forces along the Ukrainian border. This was the third consecutive year of growth," the institute's statement said.
Lucie Beraud-Sudreau, the Director of SIPRI's Military Expenditure and Arms Production Programme, said Russia could raise its military spending in 2021 because of high energy prices. Russia's military spending accounted for 4.1% of its GDP in 2021. During 2016-2019, Russia saw a drop in military spending due to low prices of oil and gas as well as sanctions imposed on it following Crimea's annexation.