Indian defence spending will rise by more than a third to INR1,417 billion (USD32.7 billion) in Fiscal Year 2009, according to the interim budget presented by acting finance minister Pranab Mukherjee on 16 February. Counting defence pensions, the military spending increase works out to an obscene Rs 40,000 crore. Much of this for buying new weapons, many of them irrelevant to any notion of adequate defence, but important to power projection beyond the South Asian region.
This figure represents a 34.2 per cent increase from the proposed 2008 budget of INR1,057 billion and a 23.6 per cent increase from the revised 2008 defence spending estimate of INR1,146 billion.
The allocation is nearly 15 per cent of the government’s total interim budget of INR9,532.31 billion for the fiscal year beginning on 1 April.
The interim budget is to finance expenditure ahead of the general election scheduled for May 2009.
Of the INR1,417 billion defence budget, planned expenditure has risen 18 per cent for 2009/10 from INR736 billion to INR868.79 billion. This includes INR548.24 billion for capital expenditure as against INR410 billion in the revised estimates for 2008-09.
However, defence officials said the 34 per cent rise would be “neutralised” by delays in decision-making by the Ministry of Defence and military officials in confirming equipment acquisitions and modernisation programmes.
based on Janes report 19 the Feb 2009.
Israel largest defence supplier to India: report
Jerusalem: Israel has emerged as India’s largest defence supplier, overtaking Russia. It has signed defence deals worth $9 billion with New Delhi in the last decade, a media report here said on Sunday.
“There is close cooperation and the Indians respect the Israeli systems and our experience in fighting terror,” a defence official was quoted as saying by The Jerusalem Post.
Russia had averaged sale of $875 million annually to India for the past 40 years. In the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks, India purchased from Israel the aerostat radar system to defend the country’s coastline for $600 million, the daily said.
The radars will be deployed at strategic points to provide warning against incoming enemy aircraft and missiles.
Israel and India have also agreed upon the joint development of medium-range surface-to-air missiles for the Air Force, the report said. New Delhi is expected to receive the first of three new Phalcon Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS), part of a $1.1 billion deal signed between the two countries by March.
Both sides are said to be in talks for the possible purchase of another three AWACS. — PTI
CAG rap for Defence Ministry
New Delhi, Feb 20 (PTI) The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has rapped the Defence Ministry for “irregular withdrawal of funds” much in violation of the Appropriation Act and for “persistent unspent provisions” of the budgetary allocations made to it.
In its report for 2007-08 tabled in Parliament today, the CAG said the Navy and the Air Force made “irregular withdrawal” of Rs 2,745 crore in February-March 2008 to pay two Defence Public Sector units (DPSUs) under a contract for equipment manufacture.
The CAG found out that the sums released as ‘On account payment’ (for specific expenditure) for meeting committed liabilities for ongoing schemes, which would arise in next financial year, remained unutilised by the Bangalore based Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and the Mumbai-based Mazgaon Docks Limited (MDL) till March 31, 2008.
The report said that MDL was paid Rs 1,245 crore in six different instalments and HAL was paid Rs 1,500 crore by Defence Ministry in one go.
The report further said Rs 1,094 crore released in 2005-06 and 2006-07 fiscal were still lying unspent with the two DPSUs.
Payments made to the HAL by the IAF were meant for meeting commitments for the current fiscal whereas MDL received the payments for expenditures to be incurred by it between April and June 2008. PTI
More army veterans to return medals
Frustrated with the government’s cold response to their longstanding demand for `one rank one pension’ (OROP), veteran soldiers are shifting into overdrive.
After over 200 war veterans, including decorated generals, returned their medals to the President on February 8 to draw attention to their demand, hundreds more will give up these symbols of honour on February 21 at Jantar Mantar. The disillusioned soldiers are also preparing to surrender the monetary benefits that accompany military decorations.
The government’s monthly allowance for Param Vir Chakra, Ashok Chakra, Maha Vir Chakra, Kirti Chakra, Vir Chakra and Shaurya Chakra awardees stands at Rs 3,000, Rs 2,800, Rs 2,400, Rs 2,100, Rs 1,700 and Rs 1,500. Veterans who have returned medals include Vir Chakra and Shaurya Chakra awardees.
Havildar Nihal Singh returned his Vir Chakra awarded for gallantry in the 1962 India-China war at an ex-servicemen rally organised at Narnaul in Haryana on Tuesday. Earlier, Colonel Kanwar Bhardwaj had returned the Shaurya Chakra awarded to his son Captain Umang Bhardwaj, who was killed in a terrorist encounter in the Valley in 2002. Bhardwaj also returned his Sena Medal awarded for gallantry in the 1971 Indo-Pak war.
Major General Satbir Singh (retd), vice chairman, Indian Ex-servicemen Movement (IESM), said, “War veterans have been given a raw deal by the government. Hundreds of ex-servicemen have pledged to return their medals in Delhi on February 21.” Singh has also returned his Sena Medal.
Over 20 lakh armed forces pensioners argue that defence personnel of same rank and same length of service must draw same pension, irrespective of the date of retirement. Various ex-servicemen organisations have criticised the Sixth Pay Commission for creating “four classes within a class” — pre 1996, post 1996 to December 2005, post January 2006 to September 2008 and post October 2008. Hundreds of veterans have been on a relay hunger strike at Jantar Mantar since December 16, celebrated as Vijay Diwas to mark India’s victory in the 1971 war.
All pre 2006 pensioners receive lesser pension than not only their compatriots in service but also their juniors. A havildar who retired before 1996 draws less pension than a sepoy who retired after 2006. Similarly, a lieutenant general draws less pension than a lieutenant colonel. The veterans are willing to reclaim their medals if their OROP demand is accepted. The government has, however, said that the demand was unacceptable as it had huge administrative, financial and legal ramifications.
Rahul Singh, Hindustan Times, New Delhi, February 19, 2009