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India has moved past France to become the world's 5th biggest military spender, following the US at rank 1, China at rank 2, Saudi Arabia at rank 3 and Russia at rank 4, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said in a report released on Wednesday.
The rankings, which reflected the spending patterns of 2017, revealed that India's defence spending rose by 5.5 percent to $63.9 billion in 2017, accounting for 2.5 percent of the nation's GDP. In comparison, France's defence spending was pegged at $57.8 billion resulting in the nation falling to rank 6. The top military spender US, spent around $610 billion on defence, more than double the spending of rank 2 holder China, which spent around $228 billion on defence.
Worldwide, the combined military spending rose to $1.73 trillion, around 2.2 percent of the global gross domestic product.
While the list of the world's biggest military spenders has remained relatively consistent in recent years, mainly dominated by the US and China, the research group noted that the balance of military spending is "clearly shifting" toward Asia, Oceania and the Middle East.
Despite the immense defence spending in India, the armed forces are still in need of considerable equipment and arms. The increased defence spending mostly goes towards salaries and pensions of the approximately 1.4 million serving defence personnel and more than 2 million veterans, Laxman Kumar Behera, a research fellow with New Delhi's Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses said.
"Because so much money is consumed by manpower costs, there isn't enough left over to buy equipment," Behera said to Bloomberg.
Vice-Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen. Sarath Chand in March this year had expressed concerns to a parliamentary committee that the current budget barely accounts for inflation and tax payments, leaving only 14 percent for military modernisation.
Due to the turbulent relations with Pakistan on one front and less than ideal relations with China on the other, the suitable upkeep and readiness of India's Armed Forces is essential.