The Cold War was preceded by an incredible boom of arms trade around the world. Though the post Cold War era saw a slump in the global arms industry, the ensuing wars like the Vietnam War, Korean War and Gulf War again witnessed a meteoric rise in the global war market. It is no doubt that the global war market is booming because everybody wants guns and ammunition. This includes terrorists, the constantly warring countries in Africa and countries like Libya, Serbia and Croatia, coups in countries like south Sudan: the list is endless.
The following statistics will make clear the big exporters of the global war market. The global war market is dominated by USA, of course, controlling 44% of the net arms export followed by Russia (17%). The other players in this market are France (8%), UK (5%), Germany and China (both 4%), Italy (3%), other European nation’s supplies (4%) and others 5%.
It comes as no wonder that India is the biggest importer of arms and ammunition and has maintained this position for the third year in a row. It even surpassed China which earlier had a share of 5% of global arms imports and recently has started manufacturing its own armaments and has emerged as a key exporter of arms even overtaking UK in this market. India’s Defense Minister A.K. Antony has further confirmed these facts in a written reply to the House. According to him “As per a report published in March 2012 by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute(SIPRI), India has become the largest importer of arms during 2007-11 and accounted for 10 per cent of global arms import as compared to Chinese share of 5 per cent”. India’s defense budget was further boosted by an increase of 5.31% year -on-year to Rs 2.03 lakh crore in 2013.
It may so happen that a trivial percentage of the total armaments budget can solve the hunger problems of the poor and destitute. But this agenda is low on the priority list because it is more essential to increase the armament budget as we are surrounded by hostile neighboring countries like China and Pakistan. While Pakistan is ever scheming disruptive activities in India, China is lurking at the Indo-China borders with their automatic weapons having safety catches off. Under such a potential situation of unrest, it is my personal opinion that strengthening the Armed Forces of the country is more important than ending hunger and rural development.
India is compelled to contribute to the global arms market by being the largest importer of arms willingly or unwillingly because the indigenous infrastructure is inadequate in manufacturing quality arms and ammunition. In fact, India needs to develop its own armament manufacturing facilities and become an exporter. However bureaucratic red tapes prevent such endeavors by disallowing the arms manufacture responsibilities to the private sectors. According to Mr. A.K. Antony, “[s]hortage of weapons is adequately addressed through indigenous production and import. Procurement of arms and equipment for the Armed Forces is a continuous process based on threat perception, operational challenges and available resources. The procurement of arms and ammunition is based on 15-year Long Term Integrated Perspective Plan (LTIPP), five year Services Capital Acquisition Plan(SCAP) and Annual Acquisition Plan (AAP).”
It may seem cruel that warmongering takes a precedence over hunger ending but we must keep in mind the Latin adage “Si vis pacem. para bellum” (If you want peace. prepare for war.) Find out more about global stats on war spending, the global war market, global stats on importers and exporters of arms, and India’s place and role in it, in this new infographic on the global arms industry.