Indian continues to be the world’s largest importer of arms whereas the US has been the largest exporter of arms over the past five years, accounting for 34 percent of the world’s arms exports. According to report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) India has been the world’s largest importer of arms from 2013 to 2017,
India’s arms imports rose 24 percent from the previous five-year period (2008-2012). Saudi Arabia was the second largest importer, while Egypt was the third. Russia accounted for 62 percent of India’s arms imports over the past five years, making it India’s largest arms supplier. US follows at second place, since arms imports to India have gone up by 557 percent between 2008–12 and 2013–17, the report said.
The research institute attributed India’s push to import weapons to tensions in the South Asian region. “The tensions between India, on the one side, and Pakistan and China, on the other, are fuelling India’s growing demand for major weapons, which it remains unable to produce itself,” said Siemon Wezeman, Senior Researcher at SIPRI.
In the 2013-2017 period, Pakistan’s arms imports dropped by 36 percent from the 2008-2012 period. China’s arms imports, too, fell by 19 percent, the report said. China is the world’s fifth largest arms importer, SIPRI research indicates. The US was the largest exporter of arms over the past five years, accounting for 34 percent of the world’s arms exports. US, Russia, France, Germany and China are the world’s largest arms exporters. Overall, volume of international transfers of major weapons rose 10 percent between 2013-2017 and 2008-2012, according to SIPRI.
The SIPRI report amply demonstrates the India’s expansionistic designs and belligerent mindset, which poses a serious threat to regional peace and stability in South Asia. India is a country where millions of people, nearly 30% of its population, are living below poverty line. According to the World Bank, an estimated 23.6% of Indian population, or about 276 million people, lived below $1.25 per day on purchasing power parity. As the teeming majority in India continue to face daunting challenges of unemployment, hunger, and diseases, lack of food, access to education and proper health care facilities, the successive governments in India have brazenly ignoring these stark ground realities and instead of resolving these challenges at domestic level the country has been spending a major portion of its GDP in importing arms and ammunition.
What makes India so crazy about spending hefty sums of its budget on buying arms and ammunition from other countries is something that lies deeply embedded in its national psyche to maintain its hegemony on smaller nations in the neighborhood. India’s pursuit of hegemonic policies as a matter of fact has been creating instability and unrest in the region on one hand while on the other its ambitions to become regional power has triggered a dangerous tactical arms race, which would ultimately hit the much needed balance of power in South Asia. In the backdrop of Indian hegemonic designs the neighboring countries particularly Pakistan cannot afford to remain incognizant of the happenings in the region.
It is equally important that India must realize the bitter reality that peace and stability in South Asia hinges on the peaceful settlement of all disputes including the core dispute of Kashmir that has been bedeviling relations between the two countries. It is time that India should come out of its medieval mindset and focus on resolving disputes through peaceful means. Rather than spending tax-money to satiate its thirst for becoming a regional power Indian rulers should take pity on teeming millions who are dying of hunger and poverty in their own country.