समुद्रमपि सन्तरेत्प्रचलदूर्मिमालाकुलम् ।
भुजङ्गमपि कोपितं शिरसि पुष्पवद्धारये
न्न तु प्रतिनिविष्टमूर्खजनचित्तमाराधयेत् ॥
(With courage, we could extract the pearl stuck in between crooked teeth of a crocodile. We could sail across an ocean that is tormented by huge waves. We may even be able to wear an angry snake on our head as if it were a flower. However, it is impossible to satisfy an obstinate fool.)
The timeless teaching of this shloka is particularly pertinent when it comes to dime-a-dozen Modi-critics and their stubborn, almost childish but no less dangerous, zeal to attack BJP government’s policies and initiatives with ad-hominem, illogical arguments. This group was particularly disappointed with the interim budget not because it was a bad budget or inefficient one but because it was a good one. This robbed them of the opportunity to mount attacks on the government. However, mere facts cannot dissuade this group from furthering their agenda, reality be damned. Truth cannot be an obstruction to the propaganda, the guiding principle this particular group religiously adheres to. In this zeal, something had to be done. The budget must be denigrated irrespective of logic or facts or even reality. As usual, the ‘Chosen One’ of the pack rose to the occasion and showed the group how it is done.
And the ‘Chosen One’ did not disappoint. The distortion of facts, truth, and reality in a seemingly honest way is almost admirable. Under Modi government, the defence budget has seen a consistent increase, year on year. And this trend continued even this year as well. In fact, this year, for the time, the defence budget crossed 3 lakh crore, Rs. 3,18,931 crore to be exact. In terms of capital outlay, Rs. 1,08,248 crore has been set aside for the year 2019-2020. This amount is specifically marked for the purchase of new weapons, aircraft, warships and other military hardware. The capital outlay also saw an increase from Rs. 93,982 crore to Rs. 1,08,248 crore.
In terms of overall increase, the defence budget witnessed 6.87% increase. Now, coming to the charge of defence budget’s ratio to GDP, Ravish Kumar is right. However, this is a classic case of comparing apples to oranges. In 1962, according to World Bank data, India’s GDP (nominal) was around 41.599 Billion Dollars. Whereas, the 2018 nominal GDP of India stands at 2.848 trillion dollars, according to IMF data. As such, even with constant ratio, and inflation adjustment, the defence budget has seen a substantial increase and comparing it with 1962 numbers is misleading.
Now, let us look at another aspect of defence budget that punches a sizeable hole in the theory by Ravish Kumar.
As is evident, barring one or two exceptions, among the 15 largest spenders, the ratio is more or less around 2% or less.
The picture becomes clearer when we look at the list of countries by military expenditure share of GDP.
As is evident, the smaller the economy, the larger share of GDP it needs for military expenditure. As the economy grows, the share of defence expenditure (in terms of share to GDP) shrinks even though in terms of value, the expenditure constantly sees growth.
Coming to NDA government’s attitude to defence budget, the government has shown its commitment to modernization of the armed forces and this has been visible in the defence budget allocation as shown in the table below.
In 2014, India’s nominal GDP was at 2.039 trillion dollars while in 2018 it stood at 2.848 trillion dollars. So, despite adding almost a trillion dollar in terms of nominal GDP, the share of India’s defence budget has remained constant and even witnessed growth in 2016-17 period.
As is evident from the above analysis, Ravish Kumar is actively trying to mislead the people on the defence budget. By portraying the NDA government as unmindful of national security, Ravish Kumar is not only spreading fake news but is also setting a dangerous precedent.
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