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Unabated military spending! A global trend


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Governments around the world have increased their military spending to a level not seen since the year 1988, despite their economies suffering during the pandemic, a fresh study has said, adding that the US was ahead of the curve again.

India has world’s 4th largest military in the world. Stress is being given on making the arms and ammunitions in the country. Indian air force order to HAL for more than Rs. 70,000 to buy LCA Tejas is a step in the right direction. As the news seep in LCA Tejas has been strengthened with new deadly missiles to give teeth to the firepower of the nation.

Back in 2020, nations all over the world have been struggling to support their economies through the times of hardships and lockdowns caused by the onslaught of the China also called the Wuhan Virus. Those efforts apparently did not prevent the nations from spending more money on the military than ever before in more than three decades, the latest report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has shown.

India was the 3rd largest military spender in the world in 2020, behind only the US and China. According to the latest military expenditure database published on Monday by the SIPRI, which tracks military expenditure and arms trade globally, the US accounted for 39% of the money spent on military globally, China accounted for 13%, and India accounted for 3.7% of the globe’s arm share, inspite of non-friendly Pakistan and China as its immediate neighbours.

The US spent a total of US$ 778 Billion in 2020, China spent US$ 252 Billion and India’s military expenditure was US$ 72.9 Billion. All three countries saw their military spending go up compared to 2019, even during a pandemic year. While India’s spending since 2019 grew by 2.1%, the increase for China was more moderate, at 1.9%. The US saw a 4.4% growth over its 2019 expenditure. The United States’ military spending was 3.7% of its GDP while the corresponding numbers for China and India were 1.7% and 2.9% respectively. From the year 2011 to 2020, American military expenditure dropped by 10%, but China saw a 76% growth while India’s military spending grew by 34%.

SIPRI said that military spending in Asia and Oceania “was 2.5% higher in 2020 than in 2019 and 47% higher than in 2011, continuing an uninterrupted upward trend since at least 1989” and attributed the rise “primarily to increases in spending by China and India, which together accounted for 62% of total military expenditure in the region in 2020”. Another reason is the scare, which the China has created in the South China Sea by creating artificial islands and thereby extending its Economic Zone. The other top spenders included Russia with US$ 61.7 Billion, the UK at US$ 59.2 Billion, Saudi Arabia at US$ 57.5 Billion, followed by Germany and France at just under US$ 53 Billion each.

Releasing the latest data, SIPRI said that the total “global military expenditure rose to US$ 1981 Billion last year, an increase of 2.6% in real terms from 2019” and the “five biggest spenders in 2020, which together accounted for 62% of the global military expenditure”. It mentioned that the “2.6% increase in world military spending came in a year” when the global GDP shrank by 4.4% (October 2020 projection by the IMF), “largely due to the economic impacts of the China Virus”. It added that as a result, “military spending as a share of GDP – the military burden reached a global average of 2.4% in 2020, up from 2.2% in 2019,” which, it said, “was the biggest year-on-year rise in the military burden since the global financial and economic crisis in 2009”.

Arms lobby in the US, which was silent during the Trump era is raising its head again and President Biden experiences heavy pressure from within his own party after requesting huge US$ 715 Billion Pentagon budget. The world’s military expenditures have risen by 2.6% in comparison to the previous year and reached US$ 1.981 Trillion “the highest level since 1988”, a SIPRI report published recently. Over the last decade, global military spending increased by almost 10%.

The increase came in a year when the world’s “gross domestic product (GDP) shrank by 4.4%,” the research institute notes, adding that the increase caused “the biggest year-on-year rise in the military burden since the global financial and economic crisis in 2009.” “We (SIPRI) can say with some certainty that the pandemic did not have a significant impact on global military spending in 2020,” said Dr Diego Lopes da Silva, a researcher with the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Program. Still, some countries, like South Korea and Chile, preferred to spend some of the planned military funds on pandemic response while others, like Russia and Brazil, spent “considerably less” on defense then planned in 2020.

The US, however, still leads the list of the largest military spenders in the world by a wide margin. America’s military expenditures alone amounted to 39% of the global defense spending, SPIRI said, adding that the US also recorded one of the highest spending growth rates among the top 10 military spenders, surpassed only by Germany and South Korea, which have considerably smaller defense budgets.

“The recent increases in US military spending can be primarily attributed to heavy investment in research and development, and several long-term projects such as modernizing the US nuclear arsenal and large-scale arms procurement,” said Alexandra Marksteiner, a researcher with SIPRI’s Arms and Military Expenditure Program. “This reflects growing concerns over perceived threats from strategic competitors such as China and Russia, as well as the Trump administration’s drive to bolster what it saw as a depleted US military,” she added.

The US closest “competitor” – China – spent around three times less money on defense and its military spending in 2020 accounted for some 13% of the global tally. Beijing did not have to raise its defense spending at the expense of increasing the military burden, since its economy was one of the few still growing in 2020.

India, Russia and the UK also made it to the list of the top five military spenders, although their defense budgets were considerably smaller than those of China, not to mention the US. Saudi Arabia was the only nation among the top 10 military spenders that had its defense expenditures decreased in 2020.

The tensions in the EU with Russia has added to the defense spending in the frontline NATO nations. US has approved US$ 1.77 billion sale of advanced Boeing spy jets to Germany amid increased NATO activity at the Russian border.
The economic downturn coupled with the continuous increases in military spending helped some NATO members to hit the Alliance’s spending target as 12 member-states spent two or more percent of their GDP on defense, SIPRI notes, adding that only nine did so in 2019. France was particularly the one to cross the two-percent threshold for the first time since 2009. This was the major bargaining and conflict area with EU during Trump era. His point was, why US should spend on security of Europe.

Whether it would enhance the alliance’s capabilities is another issue, though, since the development “probably had more to do with the economic fallout of the pandemic than a deliberate decision to reach the Alliance’s spending target,” at least in some cases, da Silva said.
In the year 2020 conflicts across the world increased mainly due to the expansionist regime of China under Xi. Its expansionist crusade against the South China Sea nations forced countries like Philippines and Indonesia to shop military equipment from new exporter India, its BrahMos missiles and Tejas fighter planes and frigates.

Rajiv Saxena
Rajiv Saxena
Rajiv Prakash Saxena is a graduate of UBC, Vancouver, Canada. He is an authority on eCommerce, eProcurement, eSign, DSCs and Internet Security. He has been a Technology Bureaucrat and Thought leader in the Government. He has 8 books and few UN assignments. He wrote IT Policies of Colombia and has implemented projects in Jordan, Rwanda, Nepal and Mauritius. Rajiv writes, speaks, mentors on technology issues in Express Computers, ET, National frontier and TV debates. He worked and guided the following divisions: Computer Aided Design (CAD), UP: MP: Maharashtra and Haryana State Coordinator to setup NICNET in their respective Districts of the State, TradeNIC, wherein a CD containing list of 1,00,000 exporters was cut with a search engine and distributed to all Indian Embassies and High Commissions way back in the year 1997 (It was an initiative between NIC and MEA Trade Division headed by Ms. Sujatha Singh, IFS, India’s Ex Foreign Secretary), Law Commission, Ministry of Law & Justice, Department of Legal Affairs, Department of Justice, Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD), Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation (MoHUPA), National Jail Project, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), National Commission for Minorities (NCM), National Data Centres (NDC), NIC National Infrastructure, Certifying Authority (CA) to issue Digital Signature Certificates (DSCs), eProcurement, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs (MPA), Lok Sabha and its Secretariat (LSS) and Rajya Sabha and its Secretariat (RSS) along with their subordinate and attached offices like Directorate of Estate (DoE), Land & Development Office (L&DO), National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC), Central Public Works Department (CPWD), National Capital Regional Planning Board (NCRPB), Housing & Urban Development Corporation (HUDO), National Building Organisation (NBO), Delhi Development Authority (DDA), BMPTC and many others.


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