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India retains world's largest weapons importer tag

In this file photo, a Russian-made IAF Sukhoi-30 aircraft is seen on display at at Yelahanka air base on the outskirts of Bengaluru. While Russia maintains a strong lead as India’s top arms supplier, purchases from U.S. are sharply increasing.   | Photo Credit: Aijaz Rahi

India remains the world’s largest weapons importer over a five-year period according to latest report of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) on global arms purchases released on Monday. The report also says that China sold most of its weapons to India’s neighbours.

India accounted for 14 per cent of total imports between 2011 and 2015. China ranks second with 4.7 per cent, Australia (3.6 per cent), Pakistan (3.3 per cent), Vietnam (2.9 per cent) and South Korea (2.6 per cent) the report titled “Trends in international arms transfers-2015” said.

However on an annual basis India ceded its top spot to Saudi Arabia in 2015 which is reflective of the turmoil in the West Asia.

While Pakistan remains the main recipient of Chinese weapons accounting for 35 per cent, a growing trend for India to watch out for is that Pakistan is followed by Bangladesh and Myanmar, accounting for 20 and 16 per cent respectively, all three being neighbours of India.

India merely extended its top run from 2006-2010 period. The top five exporters in the period were U.S., Russia, China, France and Germany.

The report noted that a major reason for the high level of Indian imports is because India’s arms industry has so far largely failed to produce competitive indigenously designed weapons.

While Russia maintains a strong lead as the top supplier, purchases from U.S. are sharply increasing.

While the government has embarked on an ambitious Make in India drive to increase domestic manufacturing it is yet to bring in any meaningful technology build up in the country.

Chinese exports on the rise

Interestingly, China figures at third place as an exporter and importer.

China which has emerged as the world’s third largest arms exporter after U.S. and Russia has increased its exports of major arms by 88 per cent between 2006-2010 and 2011-2015 and concurrently China’s global share of arms exports rose from 3.6 to 5.9 per cent.

“China supplied major arms to 37 states in 2011-15, but the majority of these exports (75 per cent) were to states in Asia and Oceania,” the report said. Major arms include big platforms like aircraft, tanks and so on.

Chinese exports of major arms to states in Asia and Oceania in 2011-15 were 139 per cent higher than in 2006-10, the report added. This is likely to cross path with India’s own increased forays in the Indian Ocean region with emphasis on military diplomacy and capacity building.

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Printable version | Dec 1, 2020 1:45:06 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/India-retains-worlds-largest-weapons-importer-tag/article14095784.ece

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