Decline in India’s Arms Imports: A Report by SIPRI

By Anupam Kawde|Updated : March 18th, 2021

According to a recent report by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) India’s arms imports came down by a third (about 33%) between 2011-2015 and 2016-2020.

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute:- It is an independent international institute dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament.It was established in 1966 at Stockholm (Sweden).

  • It provides data, analysis and recommendations, based on open sources, to policymakers, researchers, media and the interested public.
  • The report on international arms transfers attributed the drop in India’s arms imports mainly to an attempt to reduce its dependence on Russian arms and complex procurement processes.
  • Arms imports decreased by 33% between 2011–15 and 2016–20 while India continues to remain the second largest arms importer after Saudi Arabia, according to a report from Swedish think tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
  • The overall drop in arms imports between 2011–15 and 2016–20 seems to be mainly due to its complex and lengthy procurement processes, combined with its attempts to reduce its dependence on Russian arms by diversifying its network of arms suppliers,” the report said.
  • “Russia was the most affected supplier, although India’s imports of US arms also fell 46%,” the report said.
  • It added India is planning large-scale arms imports in the coming years.
  • India’s top three arms suppliers during 2016-20 were Russia (accounting for 49% of India’s imports), France (18%) and Israel (13%), the report said.
  • According to Sipri, India accounted for 0.2% of the share of global arms exports during 2016-20, making the country the world’s 24th largest exporter of major arms.

Reasons for the Fall in Imports:

  • India’s Push for Self-Reliance: The report said that the fall is not attributed to the government’s push to make India self-reliant in defence manufacturing.
  • Also, over 60% of the capital expenditure for the armed forces has been allocated for domestically produced weapons and platforms.
  • Earlier, the government had announced a negative imports list of 101 defence equipment and platforms will provide an opportunity to manufacture the items in the negative list.
  • Complex Procurement Process: The drop in Indian arms imports have been mainly due to its complex procurement processes, combined with an attempt to reduce its dependence on Russian arms.

Neighboring Country

  • Arms imports by Pakistan between 2011–15 and 2016–20 decreased by 23%. China accounted for 61% of its imports in 2011–15 and for 74% in 2016–20.
  • Like India, Pakistan too has several large outstanding orders for arms, according to the report. They are scheduled for delivery by 2028 and include 50 combat aircraft, eight submarines and four frigates from China and four frigates from Turkey, the report said.

The Government's Effort:

  • As part of efforts to boost defence imports and promote domestic manufacturing, the Defence Ministry had last year notified a list of 101 items on the negative import list.
  • The second negative list with more items is expected to be issued later this year. In addition, the Ministry has reserved a part of the capital budget for procurement from domestic industry.

About SIPRI: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute

  • It is an independent international institute dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament.
  • It was established in 1966 at Stockholm (Sweden).
  • It provides data, analysis and recommendations, based on open sources, to policymakers, researchers, media and the interested public.

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Anupam KawdeAnupam KawdeMember since Jun 2020
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