Data | Is the Indian Army spending enough on modernising its equipment?

Indian army soldiers keep guard in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir. Picture for representational purposes.   | Photo Credit: AP

The Indian Army is estimated to spend more on pensions than salaries in FY21. Pensions and salaries together form about 76% of the Army’s budget. Such a high wage bill leaves little for the Army to spend on upgradation of equipments and weaponry.


A slow-paced growth of the modernisation budget meant that only 8% of the Army’s equipments were state-of-the-art as of 2018.

Wage bill

The share of pensions in the defence budget increased to 28.4% in FY21 from 20.5% in FY16. The share of salaries, the biggest component of defence expenditure, has see-sawed over the years. The graph traces the share of pensions and salaries in the defence budget.

Salaries vs Pensions

image/svg+xml 34 32 30 28 26 24 22 20 2015-16 2017-18 2020-21 (BE) SALARIES (%) PENSIONS (%)

Share of pension

The table lists the share of various components in the FY21 budget for all the three armed forces. For instance, 38.1% of the Army’s FY21 budget was allocated for pensions. The significant wage bill meant that only about 9% was set aside for modernisation of the Army.

Breaking down the Defence Budget

image/svg+xml Category Army Air Force Navy Pensions 38.1 15 12 Salaries 37.5 21 21 Modernisation 8.8 45 40 Maintenance 6.2 11 11 Others 9.5 8 16

Slow pace

The expenditure on modernisation of the Army has grown at an annual average rate of 8% between 2010-11 and 2020-21. The graph shows the Army’s modernisation expenditure in ₹ crore.

Army's modernisation expenditure

image/svg+xml 30,000 20,000 10,000 2010-11 2012-13 2014-15 2016-17 2018-19 2020-21

Age distribution of weapons

Close to 70% of the Army’s equipments and weapons are “vintage”, while the Standing Committee on Defence (2018) recommended that only 33.3% should belong to that category.

Vintage, current or state-of-the-art?

image/svg+xml 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Vintage Current State-of-the-art Ideal mix of weapons (%) Actual mix (%) Only 8% of the Army’s equipment belong to the state-of-the-art category, while the committee recommends 33.3%

Source: PRS Legislative Research.

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Printable version | May 10, 2021 11:23:10 AM |

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