The global military expenditure rose to $1917 billion in 2019 with India and China emerging among the top three spenders, according to a report by a Swedish think tank, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) .
“In 2019, China and India were, respectively, the second- and third-largest military spenders in the world. China’s military expenditure reached $261 billion in 2019, a 5.1% increase compared with 2018, while India’s grew by 6.8% to $71.1 billion,” the report said. In 2019, the top five largest spenders — U.S. ($732 bn), China, India, Russia ($65.1 bn) and Saudi Arabia ($61.9 bn) — accounted for 62% of the global expenditure. The annual report ‘Trends in World Military Expenditure, 2019’ was released by the SIPRI on Monday.
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“India’s tensions and rivalry with both Pakistan and China are among the major drivers for its increased military spending,” the report quoted SIPRI Senior Researcher Siemon T. Wezeman. The $71.1 billion spent by India on defence in 2019 was 2.4% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). India was at the fourth position in 2018 with Saudi Arabia at the third.
Stating that India’s expenditure in 2019 was 6.8% more than that in 2018, the report says the country’s military expenditure has risen significantly over the past few decades. “It grew by 259% over the 30-year period of 1990–2019, and by 37% over the decade of 2010–19. However, its military burden fell from 2.7% of GDP in 2010 to 2.4% in 2019.”
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While India’s defence spending excluding pensions, which constitute a significant part, has been growing in absolute terms, it has been going down as a percentage of its GDP as noted by the report. For instance, the defence allocation in the latest budget for 2020-21 which was ₹3.37 lakh crore, excluding defence pensions, accounts for about 1.5% of the country’s GDP, the lowest in recent times.
In comparison, Pakistan’s military expenditure rose by 70% over the decade 2010–19, to reach $10.3 billion while the military burden increased from 3.4% of GDP in 2010 to 4% in 2019, says the report. Pakistan was at the 24th position in 2019 compared to 19th in 2018.
Global military spending in 2019 represented 2.2% of the global GDP and this was an increase of 3.6% from 2018 and the largest annual growth in spending since 2010, the report stated. In Asia and Oceania, other than India and China, Japan ($47.6 bn) and South Korea ($43.9 bn) were the largest military spenders.