Facts speak

The issue of effectiveness should always trump the questions of efficiency and quantum, when it comes to defence spending.

As we look forward to the defence budget for the coming year, just consider these facts.

  • In the year 1999-2000, the total defence budget of this country was Rs 48,504 crore. In 2009-10, the allocation for pay & allowances in the defence budget are Rs 52,876 crore.
  • The total defence budget for 2008-09 was Rs 114,600 crore. Out of this, the money actually expended on new capital acquisitions was Rs 12,153.85 crore, a mere 10.6% of the total defence spending.
  • The total allocation for defence pensions — kept outside the defence budget — for the current year, 2009-10 is Rs 21,790 crore. The total allocation for new capital acquisitions for the same year is Rs 19,118.74 crore. The former always goes up in the final analysis, while the latter invariably goes down.

There can be various interpretations of these facts. But there is one inference that needs to be noted. The debate over defence budget should not merely be about more money. It should not be restricted only to how it is spent. It should also be about how the money is allocated, where it is supposed to be spent and what does it actually do to bolster national security.

To put it simply, when it comes to defence spending, the issue of effectiveness should always trump the questions of efficiency and quantum.

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2 Responses to Facts speak

  1. SR Murthy February 3, 2010 at 3:41 am #

    Does the govt. give the Army a set of goals, so that the army can then break that down to the resources needed on an annual basis for that goal? If not, how can the Armed forces know what to spend the money on, if the Civilian leadership does not give them timelines and requirements based on their strategic plans?

    As a lungi-wearing commoner, I do not get a sense that the Civil and Military Leadership work closely with a coherent vision. What is stopping India from doing that? Military veterans seem to complain that they are out of the strategic loop in the civilian side, so it is upto the civilian leadership to fix this, IMO.

    An analogy of refining the requirements is found in Computer Engineering
    to break down “The Big Plan” into the work items or resources that the Army needs to plan for.

    1. There is an architect that creates a road map of the product and provides the scope of the problem to be solved.
    2. This architect’s plan is then broken down in major sub components required to build the whole.
    3. Each sub-component is then handed to an individual department with a request for schedule/resources/constraints to get the sub-component up to the specifications of the Architect.
    4. When all the departments return their schedules and plans — the various inherent conflicts that will show up and that needs to be resolved by the Architect and the heads of the departments.
    5. At the end of step 4, a refinement the earlier breakdown of the architect’s vision
    will be again broken down and the entire process repeated

    If we replace the Architect and the Dept. Heads with the NSA/Armed Forces, it seems like the Civilian Strategic Leadership needs to work with the Armed Forces leadership in drawing out the scope of various “items” required by the NSA for his vision.

  2. Tushar February 3, 2010 at 11:14 am #

    This is one of the most acute problems of defence spending which needs to be addressed at the earliest. Why dont we have the capital expenditure as a roll on one to cater to the bureaucratic delays in our system which are inevitable. With more scams coming to the fore with an ever increasing media glare in the country, the hierarchy in the Army, Mod or the ministers will continue to grow hesitant in inking deals for capital acquisition. If this vicious cycle is not broken the GOI/Finance may go by the logic of ‘money unspent is not required for the next year’ which to some extent is true, no matter what the reasons.

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