Defence Budget, a burden on the people, must be pruned

Aero India

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Aero India 2023, the Runway to Billion Opportunities. It  “is a wonderful platform to showcase the unlimited potential our country has in defence and aerospace sectors”. The country which was the biggest defence importer for decades now exports defence equipment to 75 countries, he said.

“India has rejuvenated its defence sector in the last 8-9 years. We just consider this to be just the beginning. We aim to take defence exports to $5 billion by 2024-25.” 

Thus it is no more the holy cow. It is really not meant for defence of India. It is an opportunity for billionaires, Indian and foreign. That is the truth about the Defence Budget as a whole.

This article in two parts seeks to focus on India’s Defence Budget. Part-1 brings out its huge size and its character of serving vested interests, both of which are concealed by the government as well as the media. The second part would discuss the government’s  alibis, China threat being its main argument.  

One can see in the Table below how under the Union Budget 2023-24 allocation, the  TOTAL defence budget witnessed an increase from around 5 to 5.94 lakh crore: The expenditure (2022-23 RE) is more than the allocation(2022-23 BE), by around Rs. 60,000cr. So it was very often : It was up by Rs. 20776 cr in 2020-21, and by Rs.  24689 cr in 2021- 22. It is around 2 % of GDP that  is going up : All percentage changes are expressed in real terms (constant 2020 prices), SIPRI clarified.


The first part of  the Budget session of parliament was adjourned on Feb 14 for a recess, to recommence on March 12, supposedly for a detailed discussion: It is Loksabha’s right and duty, but the largest part of the allocations, for Defence, are never really discussed, never scrutinized. Nor is it discussed in the Big Media. The first part of the session was lost in the Adani affair, with more sound than light.    

“Defence gets Rs 5.94 lakh crore in the Union Budget 2023-24, a jump of 13 per cent over the previous year,” says one defence ministry statement. Left unsaid is that this comparison is with last year’s budget allocations. However, when we compare the 2023-24 allocation with a more recent figure, such as the revised estimates (RE) for this year, the rise in the defence budget turns out to be a mere 1.5 per cent.

That is how Defence lobbies present the latest over all budget of around Rs. 45 lakh cr. The details given show how defence spending, not merely allocations, had gone up.

India has one of the world’s largest military forces with a strength of over 14.4 lakh (1.44 million) active personnel. It has the world’s largest volunteer military of over 51 lakh (5.1 million) personnel. It is the second largest defence importer behind Saudi Arabia making up 9.2% of global arms import.

India among top 3 out of 10 countries, in military expenditure, 2021

military spending global

Source: Reuters Graphics based on SIPRI data

India that ranks at 3, in world military expenditure 2021. It ranks No. 2 if military expenditure  as a proportion of GDP is taken as the basis: In real value terms, it is around 2 % of GDP that  is going up. This ranking remained the same even now.

***                                  ***

Both USA and Russia, most powerful nuclear powers, were driven out by smaller and weaker countries.

Soviet Union, once, collapsed under its own weight. Militarization of its economy was among main factors that led to its collapse.

Germany and Japan that were barred from nuclear weapons thrived and recovered after their destruction in World War-II.

Huge military expenditure is celebrated by the weapons lobby led by USA and other imperialists, and their compradors in India. There is no guarantee that it helps. What matters is comprehensive development.

America that spends 2.5 times of what China spends on defence feels threatened thanks to China’s comprehensive development and its social, economic and political strengths.   

Nuclear neighbors India and Pakistan have their own crises. India is overtaken in HDI by some of its small and poorer neighbors. Pakistan is steeped in economic crisis, like India was in 1990, and Srilanka more recently.      

***                               ***

India tops in military expenditure, though ranking low in HDI etc in 2022

India tops in military expenditure, even while lagging below in several indices. Despite controversies raised by India, the indices are broadly indicative of trends, even if defective. See below: 

Human Development Index 2021-22 : 132

Global Hunger Index 2022: 107

Democracy Report 2022 (Sweden) : 93

World Press Freedom Index 2022 : 150

World Happiness Report 2022: 136

Global Gender Gap Report 2022 : 135

Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index (CRII,oxfam) 2022: 123

India’s overall skills competency is now ranked 68

Environment Performance Assessment : 180

India, despite some improvement, is still low-ranking  in mortality rates, MMR and CMR .

Trends in International Arms Transfer (SIPRI) : India ranks 1.

***                               ***

India’s social sector spending is low, true, but..

Despite the above situation, for welfare, RE is often lower than BE. In the 2023-24 budget, social sector expenditure as a share of total expenditure is budgeted at 18%, the first time it has fallen below 20% since 2009, based on budget data from 2009 to 2023-24. Social sector expenditure is budgeted at Rs 8.28 lakh crore ($100.77 billion) in 2023-24, compared to revised estimates of Rs 8.84 lakh crore ($107.53 billion) in 2022-23.

A decrease in social sector spending, says an analysis by, had in fact been a pattern even before the pandemic. Between 2009 and 2021, the share of social sector expenditure going to education, sports, art, and culture declined from 20% to 9%. In the 2023-24 budget, estimates have grown to 14% but are lower than in 2009. Similarly, the share of rural development in the budget fell from 28% in 2009-10 to 19% in 2023-24.

The same is true for the Mid Day Meal scheme, now known as Pradhan Mantri Poshan Shakti Nirman (PM POSHAN). That is when child nutrition is also poor–as many as 36% of India’s children were stunted or short for their age, 19% had low weight for height and 32% had low weight for age, as per data from the National Family Health Survey between 2019 and 2021. Further, there has been a decrease to MGNREGS allocations by 33%.

These things are pointed out by many but few speak how it can be and needs to be corrected.

***                           ***

Defence Budget is much larger than what is shown 

The Table  given below shows the Defence Ministry tops the list in allocations, more than any other Ministry. 

Much of the allocation for Home Ministry is actually spent on armed forces (like CRPF) that are under that Ministry; more on that later.

Ministry-wise Budget in 2023-24 (Rs crore), highest for Defence at the top, going up.    

 Ministry of Actuals 2021-22 Budgeted 2022-23 Revised 2022-23 Budgeted


% change (2022-23 RE to 2023-24 BE)
Defence 5,00,681 5,25,166 5,84,791 5,93,538 1.5%
Roads and Highways 1,23,551 1,99,108 2,17,027 2,70,435 24.6%
Railways 1,35,242 1,40,367 1,62,312 2,41,268 48.6%
Food and PDS 3,06,571 2,17,684 2,96,523 2,05,765 -30.6%
Home Affairs 1,68,791 1,85,777 1,93,912 1,96,035 1.1%
Chemicals- Fertilisers 1,54,789 1,07,715 2,27,681 1,78,482 -21.6%
Rural Development 1,61,643 1,38,204 1,82,382 1,59,964 -12.3%
Agri. and Farmers’ Welfare 1,22,836 1,32,514 1,18,913 1,25,036 5.1%
Communications 51,545 1,05,407 1,05,478 1,23,393 17.0%
Education 80,352 1,04,278 99,881 1,12,899 13.0%
Jal Shakti 83,467 86,189 74,029 97,278 31.4%
Health and Family Welfare 84,470 86,201 79,145 89,155 12.6%
Housing, Urban Affairs 1,06,840 76,549 74,546 76,432 2.5%
Other Ministries 17,13,022 18,39,751 17,70,613 20,33,419 14.8%
Total Expenditure   37,93,801 39,44,909 41,87,232 45,03,097 7.5%


“It may be that there are no increases commensurate with the increases on capital expenditure,” conceded the Finance Secretary Somanathan. If inflation is accounted for, budgets for several social sector schemes, particularly for education, health and nutrition, have either been stagnant or decreased over time. So he qualifies: “There are no sharp cuts in expenditure on the social sector, expenditure on agriculture and allied activity.” No sharp cuts? It is after all an year when elections are held in many states and the next General Election of 2024 is not far away.

***                      ***

Home Ministry:  Rs 1,27,756.74 crore, allocated to the Central Armed Police Forces

Adding up all the related Heads – that is how SIPRI calculates- the real Defence budget is around Rs. 7.6 lakh cr, not  Rs 5.94 lakh crore.

Indian Soldier

A soldier at the LAC in Arunachal Pradesh…see the the motto line ?!

Photo Courtesy: Nirmal Poddar,ThePrint.

The Central Armed Police Forces, including the CRP, BSF,SSB,ITBP,Assam Rifles are classed under Home Ministry. With a total strength, of over 10 lakh, they  but are no different from the army that has around 15 lakh troops…all of them are deployed not only along the borders, but also to suppress people fighting for their rights.  

That the Head of Defence Ministry conceals real expenditure on armed forces can be seen here. It must be added to the amount shown as Defence Budget. PTI, Feb 01,2023 reported:

“ Sending a clear message about its internal security priorities, the Modi government allocated Rs 1.96 lakh crore to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) with a majority of the spending on Central Armed Police Forces such as CRPF and intelligence gathering. The 2023-24 budget allocation to the MHA, helmed by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, is Rs 1,96,034.94 crore. The budget 2022-23 had earmarked Rs 1,85,776.55 crore.” .

The bulk of the amount of the MHA, Rs 1,27,756.74 crore, has been allocated to the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) in comparison to Rs 1,19,070.36 crore in 2022-23.

Among the CAPFs, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), mostly responsible for internal security duties and fighting militancy in Jammu and Kashmir, has been allocated Rs 31,772.23 crore in comparison to Rs 31,495.88 crore given in 2022-23.

It may be recalled around 9.5 lakh troops were deployed in J&K after the 2019 August trifurcation of the State, accompanied by ..

The Border Security Force (BSF), which guards India’s border with Pakistan and Bangladesh besides handling internal security assignments, has been given Rs 24,771.28 crore in comparison to Rs 23,557.51 crore given in the current fiscal.

The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), which protects vital installations such as nuclear projects, airports and metro networks, has been given Rs 13,214.68 crore in comparison to Rs 12,293.23 crore allocated in 2022-23.

The Shashastra Seema Bal (SSB), which guards India’s borders with Nepal and Bhutan, has been allocated Rs 8,329.10 crore in comparison to Rs 8,019.78 crore given in 2022-23.

The Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), which guards the Sino-Indian border, got Rs 8,096.89 crore in comparison to Rs 7,626.38 crore given in the current fiscal.

The Assam Rifles, which is deployed along the India-Myanmar border and for anti-insurgency duties in the Northeast, has been allocated Rs 7,052.46 crore in comparison to Rs 6,561.33 crore given in the current fiscal.

The National Security Guard (NSG), the elite commando force to tackle any emergency security situation, has been allocated Rs 1,286.54 crore in comparison to Rs 1,183.80 crore given in 2022-23.

The Intelligence Bureau has been given Rs 3,418.32 crore in comparison to Rs 3,022.02 crore given in the current fiscal.

The Special Protection Group (SPG), which protects the prime minister, has been allocated Rs 433.59 crore in comparison to Rs 411.88 crore given in 2022-23.

The Delhi Police has been allocated Rs 11,662.03 crore in comparison to Rs 11,617.59 crore given in 2022-23.

A sum of Rs 3,545.03 crore  for development of border infrastructure, Rs 3636.66 crore for  police infrastructure, Rs 3,750 crore for modernisation of police forces, Rs 2780.88 crore has for “security-related expenditure”, Rs 350.61 crore for maintenance of border check posts and Rs 202.27 crore for Modernisation Plan IV for CAPFs…must all be added.

Low priority : The budget also allocated Rs 1,564.65 crore for census related works, Rs 1,100 crore for women safety schemes, Rs 700 crore for modernisation of forensic capacities.

Allocations for atomic energy : Most of the funds under this Head, Rs. 26000 cr, are meant for the nuclear weapons program.

So is the case with Rs. 12,554 cr  allocated for Space that  includes ISRO and rockets.

Adding up all the above – that is how SIPRI calculates- the real Defence budget is around Rs. 7.6 lakh crore, NOT Rs. 5.94.

***                         ***

Foreign loot huge and unabated: Defence Budget won’t ‘defend’ India from it

We read stories how East India company looted India. We also read Man-ki-Bat  by the  PM Modi, how his regime took ‘nationalist’ measures to protect India, by indigenization etc. But what is going on? See below:

“Multinational companies and foreign investors in Indian assets repatriated a record $49 billion (over Rs.4 lakh cr)  in 2018 either through dividends or interests”, says a report by Economic Times, Apr 29, 2019. This is an ongoing process every year.

See another news story, rather long but important:

India must tax MNCs for revenues here…Ideally, the source country (India) from where an offshore firm is deriving its income should have sole right to collect tax…that is the title of a report by Uttam Gupta, a policy analyst in, 07 January 2023. Developing countries are disproportionately affected because they tend to rely more heavily on corporate income taxes than advanced economies. India is losing about $10 billion (Rs. 82000cr) annually.

MNCs don’t pay tax in source countries by taking recourse to a disingenuous practice of registering their subsidiaries in low-tax countries such as Singapore, Mauritius, and Ireland, and showing their revenue and profits there regardless of where their sales are made. Over time, this practice has proliferated as is evident from the fact that the share of multinational profits booked in tax havens increased from less than two per cent in the 70s to over 37 per cent in 2019.

To better understand the dynamics, consider an MNC, say Amazon, whose home country is the US; it has all its customers located in India who buy goods and services on former’s on-line platform and it has a 100 per cent investment arm/subsidiary registered in a low-tax jurisdiction, say, Ireland.

If Amazon were to have a subsidiary registered in India and record the revenue from sales to Indian customers in this very subsidiary (this indeed is the right way to go), it would have paid tax on such income to the Government of India. But it does not follow this route. Instead, it asks its subsidiary in Ireland to raise invoices on Indian customers even as the Indian entity is crafted more like a service company or commission agent to the parent firm.

The big question is: Can the US – the home country of Amazon – collect tax on the profits of its subsidiary in Ireland despite the fact that the latter’s income is derived mostly from Indian customers and that the GOI has a right to collect tax on it?

To address the problem, October 8, 2021, 136 countries and jurisdictions representing more than 90 per cent of global GDP, including India, agreed to a deal called the OECD action plan…But the deal is heavily tilted in favour of the developed countries and brings little gain for India.

The plan allocates to the ‘source’ country (read: India) taxing rights only to the extent of 25 per cent of the profit.

The initial game plan of the US and other developed countries which are home to MNCs operating from tax havens was to garner all of the tax on profits booked in those jurisdictions. Now, they have made developing countries sign on a deal which enables them to collect tax on 75 per cent of these profits.

To conclude, ideally the source country (read: India) from where an offshore firm is deriving its income, should have the sole right to collect tax on it. Yet, if at all ‘non-source’ countries are to be given something, they should get to tax on residual basis say 20-25 per cent. India should also pester OECD to drop the GMCT idea; countries should have the freedom to decide the tax rate.

( for more:

US Congressman Rich McCormick, from Georgia, praised, on the floor of the US House of Representatives, the Indian-American community :  “Although they make up about one per cent of American society, they pay about six per cent of the taxes. They’re amongst the top producers, and they do not cause problems. They follow the laws. ”  Indian Americans are the second-largest immigrant group in the United States, with their population estimated to be around four million. (, PTI, Jan 13, 2023.)

There was a time when people worried about such ‘brain drain’, how it helped the West, but it is now celebrated.    

Foreign loot  in various forms is huge and unabated. But Defence Budget won’t stop it. What is ‘defended’ by the huge Defence budget? Mere ‘mittie’ (soil) along the border? It is however sure to defend the interests of Big Business.  

***                        ***

Defence sector is a happy hunting ground for Big Business

Defence is no more the holy cow, as it was projected, and shielded under the cover of the slogan Jai Jawan.  

Given the role for private sector in Defence sector,  with FDI beyond 50% allowed too, and the government pushing for them, one can see it is a happy hunting ground for Big Business. Gullible patriots need to be told of this shift over the years, faster under Modi.

 It was started during Manmohan Singh era of Congress, and quickened by Modi regime.

The government’s policies to encourage domestic manufacturing and export of defence equipment under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship scheme Make in India in Defence were laid bare.  

PM Modi in his recent Bangalore Aero India speech ( Feb 13, 2023) said, “India will move towards becoming one of leading defence exporters globally,” adding that Aero India 2023 “is a wonderful platform to showcase the unlimited potential our country has in defence and aerospace sectors”. The country which was the biggest defence importer for decades now exports defence equipment to 75 countries, he said. “India has rejuvenated its defence sector in the last 8-9 years. We just consider this to be just the beginning. We aim to take defence exports to $5 billion by 2024-25.” 

“India of ‘Amritkal’ is moving forward like a fighter pilot, who is not afraid of touching heights’, he said. But the whole world know the lows in life, in HDI, in education and health, how it fares worse than some small and poor neighbors.

Modi had heckled Congress that India needed MGNREGS decades after independence. He knows better, India still, post-pandemic, supplies food-grains free of cost to 80 crore Indians in this Amritkal. These freebies, revdis as Modi calls them, conceal the bitter realities.

The Modi government has been trying hard to get FDI in defence sector by first raising the cap from 26% to 74% through automatic route and 100% through MoD’s approval, whereby the investing foreign entity can have ownership up to 100% in the defence manufacturing.

Rs. 500 cr was the FDI till May 2022. Modi regime is wooing the imperialists, and it will likely go up sooner than later.  

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s November 2019 delegation included 50 Indian companies scouting for the Russian partners and joint ventures for the defence production in India. Thus indigenization is meant also to serve Indian Business Houses.

In July 2015, the defence ministry eased export regulations and stopped demanding multiple assurances on end-use from foreign governments even for sale of components by Indian entities. (They can use to suppress people for instance.)

Nirmala Sitharaman, presenting the Union Budget last year said in  Parliament, said 68 per cent of the outlay for defence procurement will be set aside for buying from domestic industry and that 25 per cent of the allocation for defence research and development (R&D) will be kept for collaboration with the private sector. “Private industry will be encouraged to take up design and development of military platforms and equipment in collaboration with DRDO and other organisations through SPV (special purpose vehicle) model,” she had said.  

The same trend continued this year too. That is the policy now.

Defence Budget in fact is not exclusively for that purpose. It has other goals: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has termed the Union Budget of 2023-24 growth-oriented. He has said this will help in making India a $5 trillion economy within a few years.

One can also see the Defence expenditure is one that is not hit by the pandemic. An earlier report showed how it helped the private sector last year:

About 50 Indian companies in the private sector have contributed to defence exports to 75 countries, including some in Europe. Thus ‘Defence’ is now business too, the gullible patriots need to be told:  

“The Indian Defence sector, the second largest armed force, is at the cusp of revolution. Defence exports grew by 334 per cent in the last five years; India now exporting to over 75 countries due to collaborative efforts,” the Press Information Bureau (PIB) of the Union mentioned in a tweet.

The collaborators include Adanis who entered Defence sector in 2017. 

According to some reports, India’s defence exports were worth Rs 8,434 crore in 2020-21, Rs 9,115 crore in 2019-20. It was business that went on amid the pandemic that hit businesses.

The slew of initiatives by the government include priority to the procurement of capital items from domestic sources under Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP)-2020, the announcement of 18 major defense platforms for industry-led design and development, liberalization of foreign direct investment (FDI) policy allowing 74 per cent investment under the automatic route, among several others.

Indigenization also meant a shift to private sector, big business in particular.

Listing out various initiatives taken by Defence Ministry to achieve self-reliance, Rajnath Singh mentioned that simplification of acquisition process under Defence Acquisition Procedure 2020; flexibility in Offset guidelines; increase in FDI limit to 74% under Automatic Route and up to 100% under government route; simplification of process of obtaining license; launch of Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) initiative and enhanced use of Artificial Intelligence in the defence sector have bolstered the goal to achieve self-reliance.

To minimize import by Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs), the Department of Defence Production (DDP) has notified three Positive Indigenisation Lists (PIL) of sub-systems/assemblies/sub-assemblies/ components.The first list contains 2,851 items out of which 2,500 items have already been indigenized.

“The Indian defence ecosystem is spreading its arms overseas as military exports have jumped by 334% in the last five years, which involves supplies of arsenals to more than 75 countries around the globe.”

***                      ***

‘Military-industrial complex’ : Big Business thrive

“Defence” sector is no more strictly for ‘defending’ India, as it turns into Big Business, seeking exports.

The expression military–industrial complex (MIC) describes the relationship between a country’s military and the defense industry that supplies it, seen together as a vested interest which influences public policy. Once it was used only in USA and the west, but it is no more foreign to India that ranks low in many parameters of people’s well-being, like HDI.

The Defence Ministry has set a target of Rs 1.75 lakh crore of defence production by 2025. That will include export of Rs 40,000 crore to about 75 countries, declared PM Modi in Bangalore recently.

Defence Exports and Edible oil imports !

It is an irony that an agri-based India, endowed with abundant natural resources, has imported Rs. 1.5 lakh cr worth oil-seeds and edible oils, and Rs. 16500 cr worth pulses last  year. It seeks to promote defence exports rather than comprehensively develop agriculture.  

“Defence Production Policy of 2018” (DPrP-2018) has a goal of becoming among the top 5 global producers of the aerospace and defence manufacturing with annual export target of US$5 billion by 2025.

To minimize import by Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs), the Department of Defence Production (DDP) has notified three Positive Indigenisation Lists (PIL) of sub-systems/assemblies/sub-assemblies/ components.The first list contains 2,851 items out of which 2,500 items have already been indigenized.

The second list consists of 107 strategic important Line Replacement Units/major sub-assemblies. The third list includes 101 military equipment which will come into effect from December 2022. Strategic defence products including Light Tanks, Helicopters, and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles are the part of indigneous list for which there would be an embargo on the import beyond the timelines indicated against them.

Importantly, two “defense industrial corridors” have been established — one each in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu to bolster indigneous manufacturing.

Indigenization is closely linked to private sector in Defence, with active support by the State.

All this is a story highlighted by the AIR, the Govt media.

Following private sector companies have been given defence manufacturing license: (more will join):

Tatas, Tata Defence Systems, in particular Tata Motors, are among the biggest and oldest  (pre-second world war) private sector company in the defence sector. They supplied over one lakh heavy vehicles, including combat purpose, to paramilitary and state police forces, as per the company data. It is  vague , the numbers apparently do not include those supplied to the army.

Other big players include:

Adani Aero Defense Systems & Technologies

Ashok Leyland Defence Systems, Larsen & Toubro , Reliance Naval Shipyard in partnership with MDL, Mahindra Aerospace, Mahindra Defence Systems Ltd, BrahMos Aerospace, Aditya Birla Aerospace& defence Pvt Ltd.

Other private companies include: Alpha Design Technologies , Astra Microwave Products, Apollo Micro Systems, Bharat Forge, Centum Electronics,CRON Systems, Crown Group, Data Patterns (India) Ltd, DCX Systems, Dynamatic Technologies, EyeROV, Godrej & Boyce, HBL Power Systems, PTC Industries, Kalyani Group is developing the DRDO Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS), Kineco Limited, Krishna Defence & Allied, Texmaco Defence Systems, Titagarh Wagons, Tonbo Imaging, Triveni Engineering & Industries Limited,SSS Defence. (Wikipedia)

The Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has stated in 2021 that India was ready to export different types of missile systems, Light Combat Aircraft, helicopters, multi-purpose light transport aircraft, warships and patrol vessels, artillery gun systems, tanks, radars, military vehicles, electronic warfare systems and other weapons systems to Indian Ocean region nations.

***                      ***

Defence sector has its own share of corruption, middlemen, cronyism, scams

Defence sector, it needs to be stressed, is no holy cow as it is projected. It is like any other with its own share of corruption, middlemen, cronyism, scams ranging from guns to coffins to Rafael aircraft. 

Many of these scandals, include allegations related to bribery, and the alleged involvement of middlemen. These alleged middlemen are also termed as lobbyists, arms agents or arms dealers. Many former military officials are engaged in the job, some not so openly. No file can move without connivance of the Defence officials, though politicians are in the focus.

“Commissions from arms deals could be up to as high as 15%”

Until the 1980s, agenting or lobbying on behalf of foreign defence companies was legal in India. Allegedly, arms agents can manipulate the procurement process because they have the means to pay substantial commissions to politicians, military officials and bureaucrats, therefore making them ever-present in defence deals.

In addition to this, members of the Ministry of Defence and military officials have stated that arms agents have the power to manipulate what is written in weapons test reports, and General V.K Singh, a former Indian Chief of the Army Staff, stated that the reach of lobbyists within the Defence Ministry extends to the level where agents have access to classified intelligence and know the inner workings of the ministry.

According to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the three largest and most powerful arms dealers are Vipin KhannaSudhir Choudhrie and Suresh Nanda– all accused in several defence scandals, and their commissions from arms deals could be up to as high as 15%.

In 2012, Verma was arrested by the CBI for violating the Official Secrets Act, but in 2017, Verma was discharged by the courts due to lack of evidence against him. Another individal accused of being an arms dealer is Sanjay Bhandari, who fled to the United Kingdom in 2016, and is currently fighting an extradition case.

In addition to this, non-Indian citizens, foreigners, have also been accused for allegedly giving bribes and kickbacks to influence defence deals in India. This include Christian Michel, a British Citizen, who was extradited to India from the United Arab Emirates in 2018. Michel has been accused by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate, for allegedly being one of the middlemen in the 2013 Indian helicopter bribery scandal, and has been in judicial custody in India for over two years.

Rs. 12,554 cr was allocated for Space that  includes ISRO and rockets. Who does it benefit?

Space sector has some benefits for people, no doubt. But it is inflated:  India’s “Space Industry” is predominantly driven by the national Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). The industry includes over 500 private suppliers and other various bodies of the Department of Space in all commercial, research and arbitrary regards. In 2021, the Government of India launched the Indian Space Association (ISpA) to open the Indian space industry to private sectors and start-ups. Several private companies like Larsen & Toubro, Nelco (Tata Group), OneWebMapmyIndiaWalchandnagar Industries are founding members of this organisation. Lieutenant General Anil Kumar Bhatt was appointed as the Director General of ISpA.

Private firms started to emerge later as subcontractors for various rocket and satellite components. Reforms liberalising the space sector and non-disclosure agreements came in the late 2010s, leading to the emergence of various private spaceflight companies.

The Indian space program emerged as an economic sector with government-backed investments with official institutions in the military and civilian administrations over decades of engineering.

A range of initiatives to deregulate the private space sector were introduced by Narendra Modi‘s cabinet in June 2020, and the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (INSPACe) was established for incubating technology into private firms, known as Non-Government Private Entities (NGPEs) by DOS. NGPEs were included as a crucial part of ISRO’s Space Communication Policy draft issued in October 2020.

In 2019, the space industry of India accounted for $7 billion or 2% of the global space industry and employed more than 45,000 people. Antrix Corporation expects the industry to grow up to $50 billion by 2024 if provided with appropriate policy support.  (Wikipedia).

***                      ***


After all the resources are limited, more so for a developing country with the largest population. There must be priorities  linked to dire needs. Defence Budget is the one that needs to be drastically pruned.

The holy cow has become a man-eater. It serves those merchants of death and destruction who regard the people as voting cattle and cannon fodder.  

One year of Ukraine’s war has shown it all. There is no end to death and destruction, on both sides, whoever is going to be the winner. It is sure the people of both sides are the losers. Imperialists are pumping money, America leads the pack of wolves. They love war that boosts the economy, an economy that creates more and more billionaires even while it leads  to more poverty, joblessness, even among sections that were hitherto comfortable like those in ITES sectors.

The Opposition too never raises its voice on this. The Big media celebrates it in the name of “patriotism, the last refuge of the scoundrel. ” We have them aplenty robbing the people.

It is for the people to unravel the mischief, and demand that the Defence Budget  must be pruned. Those who value peace and development must raise their voice. Silence is unwarranted.

(The second part  of this article would discuss the government’s  alibis, China threat being its main argument.

The author is a political commentator who wrote for the

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At a time when minority communities have been passing through difficult times and need reassurance and support, the union budget has come as a rude jolt for them with its…

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