'Small increase': Chinese state media takes a dig at India's defence budget

As per Budget 2021, Centre approved only a marginal hike of around 1.4 percent to Rs 4.78 lakh crore for 2021-22 in defence budget against last year's allocation of Rs 4.71 lakh crore

Chinese President Xi Jinping Chinese President Xi Jinping

Chinese state-controlled media has taken a dig at India's defence budget allocation, saying it's an illusion that India can improve military capability with a "small increase" in the budget for defence. The Chinese government's mouthpiece, Global Times, has also said that if India continues to spend on the military, despite its economy facing major contraction, it could be dangerous for the country.

According to Budget 2021, the central government approved only a marginal hike of around 1.4 percent to Rs 4.78 lakh crore for 2021-22 in the defence budget as against last year's allocation of Rs 4.71 lakh crore.

In the Union Budget presented in Lok Sabha by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday, a total of Rs 1,35,060 crore has been set aside for capital expenditure that includes purchasing new weapons, aircraft, warships and other military hardware.

The Global Times report said India's economy has been "heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to a modest increase of the defence budget". "If India insists on blindly satisfying its vanity on the military when its economy cannot afford it, this will affect its economic reforms and lead to a vicious circle," the Global Times report says.

According to a Bloomberg report, India's defence expenditure is about one-quarter of China's. In May 2020, Beijing had announced a yearly defence budget of $178.6 billion. The report says that though India has "bought weapons from the US, Russia, Israel and France recently", it'll only offer a "limited increase" to its combat capability.

The report quoted Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert, as saying that India is improving its infrastructure, including roads, along the Line of Control but "if it cannot manage to accomplish these projects, these will remain the soft underbelly".

However, military experts in India say the drop in the defence budget allocation could be an indication of the government's plan to cut expenditure on payment of pension by increasing the retirement age of military officers. Officials also say that the allocation was more in 2020-21 as around Rs 18,000 crore was to be paid on account of pension arrears. The overall allocation of Rs 4.78 lakh crore comes to around 1.63 percent of the GDP.

Also read: Full coverage of Union Budget 2020

Also read: Budget 2021 will boost infra, create new jobs: US chamber of commerce

With PTI inputs