By Santosh Bhartiya
Is it really true that the army is running out of military equipment and arms and ammunition? The information that is going viral on social media has it that our soldiers have to spend their own money to buy their uniforms and boots. Is it unsettling for anyone? In fact there a huge paucity of arms and ammunition with the country’s armed forces. Moreover, the government has not provided any additional fund for the purchase of ammunition and equipment, which posed an unprecedented crisis to the army. The measures adopted by the army to get out of such situation are also not less startling. According to experts the army will now reduce its procurement from government-owned ordnance factories – army procures 94 per cent of their total production, which according to information is to be brought down to the level of 50 percent. This will have a direct bearing on the supply of uniforms, boots, belts and combat uniforms to the army.
Shortage of uniforms, boots, etc., will force the solders to buy these items from the open market on their own expenses. Not only this, supply of spare parts will also get hampered, which ultimately impact the movement of the army. Fifty years ago the great revolutionary Che Guevara had said that the most important article for a solder is his boot, for he would fall into enemies hands if his boot were of substandard quality. The quality of the boot being supplied to our army is also being compromised. In March 2018, it is being said, the army has reduced its purchase from ordinance factories from Rs. 11 thousand crores to Rs. 8 thousand crore ; the money thus saved will be spend on buying ammunition and other military equipment.
Earlier, the Parliamentary Committee of the Ministry of Defense had made some startling disclosures about the paucity of ammunition in army. The committee arrived at the conclusion that in the event of a full-fledged war the stock of ammunition that the Indian Army has, will not last more than 10 days; in normal condition that stock should be of 40 days. When Manmohan Singh’s was the prime minister a similar revelation was made by the then Army Chief. The Army Chief in a letter to the prime minister had mentioned that the current stock of ammunition with army would not last more than 10 days in case of war. Subsequently, that letter was leaked. So many years have elapsed since that letter and even today our army is facing same kind of scarcity: stock of ammunitions that last only 10 days. Rs 21,388 crore budget allocated to modernize the army, according to Lt. General Sarath Chand, is absolutely inadequate. Not to speak of modernizing the army, this budget is not enough to complete the ongoing 125 projects under the aegis of the army. The projects which are being carried out by Army include, amongst other 24 projects, the project of the manufacturing of modern armored vehicles under the Make in India initiatives. Another shocking fact is that, compare to previous year the budget for army was increased only by 7.81 percent in the 2018-19.
The report also disclosed that 68 percent of the weaponry that the Indian Army possessed is not of up to date technology, whereas the share of such weaponry should not exceed 33 percent. One can imagine now as to how the Indian army will be able to protect the country using such obsolete weapons. The fact is that the paucity of ammunition lays bare our pompous political rants. According to the sources the army is grappling with 40 percent shortage of ammunition, and that too when India is the world’s largest importer of weapons. Out of 152 weapons critical for war 61 are in short supply. And this scenario is when India is world’s largest arms importer at this time. According to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) India buy 13 percent of the arms sold across the world.
Although taking cognizance of shortage of arms and ammunition, the Modi government has increased the defense budget by 7 per cent, i.e. 3.60 lakh crores. Defense experts, nonetheless, believe that the allocated budget is still inadequate to meet the actual needs of the army. The parliamentary committee report released in December 2017 also said that the allocation of only Rs. 86 thousand crores out of requisite capital expenditure of 1.96 lakh crores will be like a drop in the ocean as far as defence preparedness is concerned. It will directly impact proposed defence production under Make in India initiative. Now the Home Ministry concedes that the security crisis on the western border of the country has increased. The incidents of cross-border infiltration are constantly on the rise. In the year 2017, 860 incidents of ceasefire violation on Pakistan border have been recorded. In January 2018 alone, Pakistan has violated the ceasefire on 124 times. Apart from this, there has been 30 per cent increase in militancy in Kashmir. In the year 2016, where 267 people were killed in militancy-related incidences, while the number rose to 347 in 2017.
There are no two-opinions about the fact that the war capability of Indian Army is not in good shape. Besides armored vehicles, modern tanks and advanced rifles, the Indian Army is facing huge shortage of fighter planes, warships and nuclear capable submarines. Moreover, the money that the government has allocated to modernize the army is less than the amount of annual pension given to the ex-servicemen. When India’s traditional rival China and Pakistan spend more than two percent of their GDP on defence, we only spend 1.58 percent, which is the lowest in the last 50 years. . The Parliamentary Committee has also raised questions about the quality of defense products developed by DRDO within the country. According to the committee despite the professional expertise of fifty years, the weapons being manufactured by our defense units are not of world class. Assault rifle manufactured in Indian armament factories fell flat in the test by the army test last year.
The shortage of rifles in the army can be measured by the fact that there is only one assault rifle on every three jawans. Arjun tanks and the light combat aircraft Tejas built by HAL has also been rated as weak compared to its equivalent from other countries. As far as Brahmos missile is concerned, 65 percent of its parts are imported from Russia. Likewise, our security preparedness can also be estimated by the fact that while china has 2.23 soldiers per 1,000 people, Pakistan has 4.25 soldiers for per 1000 people, while India is has only 1.25 solders per 1000 people. In this backdrop one can imagine as to what precarious condition the army is defending the country. How we arrived at such an alarming situation when nationalists and patriotic people are at the helm of the affairs. There must be a traitor who in the name of nationalism is doing anti-national thing. The army is being stripped of its glory by making it miserable. Substandard and out of date technology is increasing the martyrdom of the soldiers. Opposition is silent; TV debates do not raise such topics. There is open game of treason in the guise of patriotism.