India needs to expand its defence industrial base to grow its global clout
Indian Defence News: Does India matter? It seems like a rather silly question. Of course, it does. India is the world’s second most populous country, and it is on track to overtake China as the most populous by 2022. Its economy is either the sixth or third largest, depending on how you measure it. Its economy grew at a rate of 7.1% in 2016 and 8% the year before.
The strength of India’s high-tech industry is well known. In addition to being a major outsourcing business (that is, call centers), India’s IT sector is beginning to engage in real value-added activities, such as telecommunications and cloud computing. Add to this India’s growing capacity in automobiles and pharmaceuticals.
On paper, India is a major military power. With more than 1.4 million men and women in uniform, it has the world’s second largest military. Its defence budget last year (according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute) was nearly US$56 billion, making it the world’s fifth largest military spender, outspending France, the United Kingdom, and Japan.
India’s military is impressive: more than 4,000 main battle tanks, 4,500 artillery pieces, 800-plus combat aircraft, 47 destroyers and frigates, 13 attack submarines, and even an aircraft carrier. More equipment purchases are in the pipeline, including at least one more carrier, new stealth, warships, nuclear-powered submarines, fifth-generation fighter jets, and a comprehensive missile-defence system.
And lest we forget, India is also a declared nuclear power, with perhaps 100 nuclear weapons. And it is developing a triad of air-, ground-, and sea-based delivery systems. India has already deployed short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, and it is developing a fleet of nuclear-missile submarines.
Great-power goals don’t add up to global clout
India is, like China or Brazil, an aspiring great power. Yet despite its growing economic, technological, and especially military power — and particularly its nuclear capability — India’s global clout is practically nonexistent. Delhi wields nothing close to the far-flung cultural, economic, or political-military weight that Beijing does. Even within southwest Asia and the Indian Ocean region — India’s backyard — it must share regional authority with other rising states, particularly Iran, nuclear Pakistan, and outside powers like the United States.
News Source: Asia Times