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India tops the list of arms importers in the world

New Delhi: It is surprising that India, inspite of many public sector undertakings in the defence fields producing military hardwares and software like armoured cars, military trucks, heavy artillery, tanks, missiles, fighter planes, rockets, radars, naval ships etc. with indiginious and / or foreign help is the biggest importer of arms in the world and has purchased maximum arms during the past five years which amount to almost 10 percent of total arms sales in the world. After India, South Korea is the second highest importer and its total arms purchases come to around 6 percent of the world’s total sales. China and Pakistan come next with almost 5 percent of total sales each.

According to a Stockholm (Sweden) think tank India, China, South Korea, Pakistan and Singapore taken together have purchased almost 30 percent of total arms sold in the world. India as compared to the years 2002-2006, has added about 38 percent to its heavy arms purchases during the 4-year period 2007-11. According to Stockholm’s International Peace Research Institute during the 4-year period of 2007 to 2011 India has purchased war planes from Russia and France. On the other hand Pakistan stands at No. 3 from the point of view of arms imports or purchases. It purchased G.F. 17 and F. 16 war planes from China and U.S.A. In the Middle East inspite of the on-going Arab revolution and fightings, supply of arms continued to these countries. According to the same think tank inspite of the existing state of uncertainty and instability in these countries Russia exported missiles, war planes and other arms to Syria without any break. In addition to this, America had supplied 45 tanks to Egypt last year and had promised to supply 100 more.

According to this report China will soon become one of the five large exporters of arms of the world. Most of its arms exports are to Pakistan. According to the latest report of this think tank, there has been a 24% increase in the export of arms in the world during the period 2007-11. America stands at No. 1 in the sale / export of arms followed by Russia, Germany, France and England. Inspite of tense conditions in North Africa and Middle East export of arms to countries in these regions goes on. According to the Swedish think tank, arms purchases have no direct relationship with external security because many countries buy arms to maintain their influence and position at the international level.

The recent ‘Def Expo-2012’ held in New Delhi saw more than 200 foreign firms producing arms flocking to India to display their products, enter into deals with their Indian counterparts, government undertakings for tie-ups, joint ventures, transfer of technology and know-how. In addition to arms producing companies from countries mentioned above and also Israel which has become one of the important arms suppliers to India, there were government and private delegations to negotiate deals with their Indian counterparts in defence fields whose number also runs into hundreds including Tatas, Punj Lloyds, Larsen & Toubro, Mahindras, in addition to the old ones in this field like Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. (BHEL), Bharat Earth Movers Ltd. (BEML), Bharat Dyanamics Ltd., Midhani (Mishra Dhatu Nigam), Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd., Hindustan Shipyard, Mazagon Docks and dozens and scores of others. Leaving aside the expected deals in the Def Expo-2012, India has already signed many agreements with different countries, the latest one in this series being the 20 billion Dollars deal with the French firm Dassault for the supply of 126 fighter planes for its vast armed forces of around 1.3 million.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 May 2012 on page no. 4

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