India has lost its position among the leading arms exporters despite its efforts to increase defense exports to Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.
India’s defense exports have increased in recent years. However, they have not been enough to maintain their position among the world’s top 25 exporters. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi aims to increase India’s annual defense exports to 35 billion Indian rupees ($5 billion) by 2024-25.
Despite this, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has removed India from the top 25 arms exporters list.
India remains the largest arms importer.
India remains the world’s largest arms importer, according to SIPRI, a position the country wishes to abandon. China and Saudi Arabia have also held this position in the past.
For many years, India has been one of the world’s largest importers of weapons. According to data compiled by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), India was the second-largest importer of significant weapons between 2016 and 2020, accounting for 9.5% of global arms imports during this time frame. Throughout the past decade, India has consistently positioned among the top five importers of arms.
There are numerous reasons why India has become such a major importer of arms. India’s ambition to modernize and enhance its armed forces is one of the primary reasons. India has the second-largest military in the globe, with over 1,400,000 active-duty personnel. However, a significant portion of India’s military hardware is obsolete, and many of its weapon systems require replacement.
To address this issue, India has embarked on an ambitious modernization program that includes upgrading its extant systems and acquiring new, advanced weapon platforms.
India’s domestic defense industry is inadequate, another cause of its reliance on imports. Despite recent achievements, India’s indigenous defense industry is still in its infancy, and the country has struggled to develop advanced weapon systems domestically.
The Indian defense industry has faced a number of obstacles, including a lack of funding, restricted research and development capabilities, and a personnel shortage. Therefore, India has relied on foreign suppliers to satisfy its defense requirements.
India’s strategic location and geopolitical circumstances also contribute to its reliance on arms imports. India shares borders with several countries considered to be potential hazards, including Pakistan and China.
India’s security concerns have been heightened by the ongoing conflict with Pakistan over Kashmir and the recent border disputes with China. To maintain its security and deter potential aggressors, India has been forced to invest significantly in its military, including the purchase of new weapon systems.
The significance of India’s dependence on imported armaments for its foreign and defense policies cannot be overstated. India’s defense relationships with other nations are frequently shaped by its armament purchases, which is one of the most significant ramifications. As a consequence of its arms purchases, India has developed close defense ties with several nations, including Russia, Israel, and the United States. These connections can have far-reaching effects on India’s foreign policy and its alliances with other nations.
Concerns about India’s defense preparedness and independence have been expressed due to its reliance on imported arms. While India’s modernization program has resulted in significant acquisitions, such as the purchase of the French Rafale fighter aircraft, it has been criticized for being slow and inefficient. India’s heavy reliance on imports of arms has also hindered the development of its domestic defense industry and its efforts to develop advanced weapon systems.
In conclusion, India’s status as a significant importer of arms reflects its need to modernize and upgrade its military, its inability to develop advanced weapons systems domestically, and its security concerns resulting from its strategic location and the geopolitical situation.
While India’s reliance on arms imports has allowed it to acquire some sophisticated weapon platforms, it also poses challenges to the country’s defense preparedness and independence. To address these challenges, India must continue investing in its domestic defense industry and concentrate on developing advanced weapon systems while maintaining strong defense relationships with other nations.
Why is India not in the top 25?
One explanation for India’s position outside the top 25 is the reduction in the global volume of international arms transfers by 5.1% last year.
Former MoD Financial Adviser and EurAsian Times Editorial Board Member Amit Cowshish cite three other reasons: competition in the global market, the lack of an impeccable record of reliability and operational effectiveness of Indian defense products, and the lack of major long-term buyers.
The importance of major long-term buyers
A country must have one or more major long-term buyers to become a major arms exporter. India does not enjoy that position.
The main importers of Indian defense materiel have been Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Armenia, but these countries do not have sustained long-term demand and are not expected to spend substantial amounts on imports from India or any other country.
India must carve out a market by identifying countries with long-term demand and financial resources to meet its military needs through imports. This will require a focus on improving the quality and reliability of Indian defense products and identifying strong long-term business partners.