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.