India announced a 4 percent increase in defense spending to US$32 billion in its annual budget on Friday, a day after Pakistan voiced concerns over its rival’s military modernization.
“Secure borders and security of life and property foster development and needless to say, any additional requirement for the security of the nation will be provided for,” Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee told parliament.
Spending on the military — the world’s fourth largest — was put at 1.47 trillion rupees (US$32 billion) for the financial year to March next year.
Last year’s budget hiked defense expenditure by almost a quarter — the sharpest rise ever.
Mukherjee earmarked US$13 billion for modernization projects, US$12.4 billion for the million-plus army, with US$3.3 billion for the air force and about US$2 billion for the navy.
On Thursday, Pakistani Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir — on a visit in New Delhi for talks with his Indian counterpart — had warned that India’s military modernization program threatened stability in a “nuclearized” South Asia.
“New war doctrines, a tremendous boost to defense spending, the induction of new sophisticated weapons systems; these are elements that are prejudicial to regional security and stability,” Bashir told reporters.
New Delhi, which last month inducted its longest range nuclear-tipped missile into the army, said it intends to spend as mush as US$30 billion modernizing its military by 2012, the defense ministry said.
India has fought three wars with Pakistan since independence in 1947 and a brief but bitter war with China in 1962 over a border dispute that remains unresolved and has again become more tense in recent months.
The largest weapons buyer among emerging countries, India has imported military hardware worth US$28 billion since 2000 mainly from Russia, Israel, France and Britain.