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Decline in India’s Arms Imports: SIPRI

  • 16 Mar 2021
  • 4 min read

Why in News

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.

Key Point

  • India Specific Findings:
    • Second Highest Importer:
      • India remains the second highest importer, only behind Saudi Arabia.
    • Arms Suppliers to India:
      • Russia is the largest arms supplier to India in both periods (2011-2015 and 2016-2020). However, Russia’s share of Indian arms imports fell from 70% to 49%.
      • France and Israel were the second and third largest arms suppliers in 2016–20. India’s arms imports from France increased by 709% while those from Israel rose by 82%.
      • The USA became the fourth largest supplier for the period 2016-20. It was the second largest arms supplier to India in 2011–15.
    • Indian Export:
      • 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.
      • This represents an increase of more than 200% over India’s export share (0.1%) during the previous five-year period of 2011-15.
      • Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Mauritius were the top recipients of Indian military hardware.
    • Future Trends:
      • Owing to increasing threats from Pakistan-China, and a significant delay in domestic defence manufacturing, India’s arms imports are expected to increase over the coming few years.
  • 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.
  • International Transfers:
    • The top five global arms exporters were the US, Russia, France, Germany and China in 2016-2020.
    • International transfers of major arms stayed at the same level between 2011–15 and 2016–20
      • There were substantial increases in transfers by the USA, France and Germany and it was largely offset by declining Russian and Chinese arms exports.
      • The bulk of Russian export fall was due to India reducing its imports.
      • Even if Russia substantially increased its arms transfers to China, Algeria and Egypt between 2011–15 and 2016–20, this did not offset the large drop in its arms exports to India.
    • Middle eastern arms imports grew during this period and was majorly driven by Saudi Arabia.

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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