In a first, India has figured on a list of global arms exporters, making a modest entry at number 23 but the ranking is likely to rise sharply over the coming years with the government’s focus on encouraging weapons sales abroad.
The latest data on global arms transfer by SIPRI shows that Indian arms imports have come down significantly (by 32%) since 2015, indicating that the ‘Make in India’ initiative is gaining ground but the country is still ranked as the world’s second biggest weapons buyers, just behind Saudi Arabia
Interestingly, imports from the US have taken a huge dip in the past five years, with the data showing that Russia now accounts for 56% of arms supplies. In fact, the US no longer figures among the top three suppliers of arms to India. After Russia, Israel at 14% and France at 12% are the major sources of weapons for India
Even though India has ordered systems like the Apache and Chinook helicopters and additional P8I maritime aircraft from the US, orders to Russia – from the S 400 anti-air system to additional T 90 Tanks & helicopters have been significantly higher. The recent $3 billion deal for Apache and MH 60 ‘Romeo’ choppers has not been taken into account in the data set.“The USA became the second-largest arms supplier to India in 2010–14 as the security relationship between the two countries developed into a strategic partnership. However, in 2015–19 India continued with its policy of supplier diversification, and imports of arms from the USA were 51% lower than in 2010–14,” the report says.
The silver lining for India, along with the 32% dip in imports has been the entry into the exporters list. At present, the exports shown are modest – they account for only 0.2% of the global arms market – but the start is significant. India’s biggest clients are Myanmar, which accounts for 46% of exports, Sri Lanka at 25% and Mauritius at 14%.As reported by ET, India has a target to increase its defence exports to $ 5 billion within five years. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh also shared at the ET Global Business Summit that the government will be extending additional Lines of Credit and grants for friendly foreign countries over the next five years.
The SIPRI data also shows the Pakistan has not become completely dependent on China for its weapon systems. Since 2015, China accounts for 73% of arms imports by Pakistan.