What are the consequences for India cutting its defense spending?
According to Global Firepower, India is the world's biggest military importer …2014 India Military Strength…..Serious questions have arisen over two of our biggest deals – Why Rafale is a Big Mistake and Don't Buy Your Aircraft Carrier from Russia | RealClearDefense …More recently, news has emerged of India spending 50,000 crore on building SIX submarines – Defence Ministry Clears Defence Projects of Worth Rs. 80000 Cr …My question is that – is all this elaborate defense equipment really necessary? – we could simply scrap the rafale deal and make use of the SUK-30s which are competent. Aircraft carriers are nothing, but status symbols. We are not like America, which sends it's carriers all over the world. ……In short, assuming we cut out all the major defense deals and stuck to focusing on "minimum deterrence". What would be the consequences? –
EDIT1: To be clear on a point, when it comes to soldier's welfare, I do not advocate a cut in spending – they fully deserve all the help we can give them. Rather, it is certain deals for which alternatives are available – ie, the money spent on the Rafale could be invested into producing the indigenous Tejas aircraft.
Answer by Balaji Viswanathan:
You have left your toddler at home alone and you are constantly worried while at the office. You are worried whether the door is locked. You are concerned if the stove is off. You are not able to focus on work as you don't know if your son is safe at home or not. Then your mother calls up and says she got home and is going to take care of your son. You know she is resonsible and will protect your son the best way. Now, you can take your worries off and focus on the work. Maybe you might be twice as productive now.
The same works for nations. When we are not sure of our borders and when we are not sure whether our military can withstand various attacks, we get paranoid and our economy goes down the drain. But, if we are really assured that we have a strong military that can proctect us from a wide range of enemies, we can take off the worries and the nation can go full speed on economy.
Switzerland, Singapore, Israel and US all have amazing militaries that enabled them to historically grow much faster than their neighborhood. Investors and entrepreneurs need this comfort before they can take the risky ventures.
Defense decides destiny
In our 5000 year+ history, we have seen the follies of having weak defense. We are in a terrible neighborhood and often was the target of invasions.
Indus Valley Civilization probably ended because it didn't maintain a strong army which could have protected a part of it from the natural and man-made disasters. If the Nanda king got along with Puru, Alexander would have never reached the banks of Indus. If the later Gupta kings had not loosened up, they would have been able to protect India's greatest civilization. If we had a strong defense in the 11th century, Nalanda University would not be under ruins now. If the later Cholas after Rajendra had kept up, Tamil territory would not have fallen so deep in the following centuries. Later, when the Mughals were weakened, India was under colonial occupation.
On the other hand, whenever an Indian king got strong, India went to its heights. Ashoka was a very strong ruler. Indian society reached its peak. So was the period under Samudragupta, Raja Raja Chola, Harsha Vardana and Akbar. Our greatest achievements came when our kings and the armed forces were really strong.
When our gates are strongly protected, we could explore the greatness of humanity. On the other hand, when outsiders are constantly jumping into our home, we will have no time for building our achievements. If you don't have a strong defense, you got nothing.
Why India needs to spend so much?
India spends 2.5% of its GDP on defense & this is exactly the world average. This is neither high nor unwarranted. Look at India's massive threats.
- Nuclear powers: India has 3 nuclear powers in its neighborhood and two of them are hostile powers with which India both borders & have fought wars with. Thus, we need a credible nuclear triad [submarines, bombers, missiles] to defend ourselves. Those are not cheap.
- Exploding powers: The distance between Baghdad and Amritsar is the same as the distance between Amritsar & Kanyakumari. While the Middle East might appear far, it is actually quite close. Thus, IS and all other crazy groups fighting there are a direct threat to Indian interests. Afghanistan is completely broken now that US is leaving it. Most of the terrorists would spill into ours at some point. How would you fight these threats at their source without having long range aircraft?
- Superpowers: India needs the aircraft carriers for a counterattack. In the unlikely case of China circling India & starting an attack on Indian soil [through Pakistan or another neighbor], India needs to deliver the threat of its aircraft carrier directly attacking China's shores. This threat of getting their heart exposed would make the opponent withdraw. Without an aircraft carrier, there is no way for India to take the battle to China. No one dares mess with a nation that has multiple aircraft carriers and sneaky submarines. Of course, India is unlikely to be the nation that is starting the attack.
- Pirates: Indian ocean is bounded by two piracy groups at theand . I will give you a better map of how the pirates are encircling India & threaten trade in India's ocean. How would you go and deliver an attack on Somalia? You need really powerful blue water capabilities. In fact, Raja Raja Chola was a pioneer in building anti-piracy efforts to protect Chola empire's trade in Indian ocean. That greatly helped Tamil Nadu. We need to do that at Indian scale.
- Separatists: India has a had a never ending battle with lunatics and fanatics who want to split India. The separatists of all 100+ groups fighting to split from India put together might be less than 1 crore fighters. In other words, 99%+ of India are peaceful and want to stay in India, while this troublesome 1% threatens the sovereignty of our country. They range from extortionist groups in Northeast who do kidnapping for a living to Kashmiri terrorists exported from Afghanistan & Central Asia to misguided communist/Maoist rebels in central India. India needs advanced helicopters, intelligence agencies and spy satellites keep them under control.
- Natural disasters: Indian plate is increasingly weakening leading to more earthquakes in India's center. The lower part of the Himalayas are prone to brutal land slides. India's eastern seaboard is very vulnerable to massive cyclones. Then there is the threat of disease [remember Ebola]. Who can be relied on to react to all this? Part of the defense budget is used for disaster management.
- Border threats: India has 15,000 kilometers of land borders with countries such as China, Pakistan, Bangladesh & Myanmar. [To put this in context, US with 3 times India's area has well less than 10,000 km of land borders and most if it is with a friendly Canada] With China, India still has an unresolved border. With Pakistan, the problem is terrorism exports. With Bangladesh the problem is illegal immigrants. With Myanmar, there are problems with smuggling. We also have 7500 km of coastline. Thus, we need to spend a lot on BSF and Coast guard, besides spending on border infrastructure to react quick.
- Responsibilities to the world: We are now among the world's biggest economies and thus have to carry a lot of world's weight. India is a responsible world citizen & is the among the largest contributor of peacekeeping forces around the world. This again costs a lot of money.From West Africa to Middle East, our troops have been at the forefront of maintaining peace. This is important both for India's economy as well as India's morality.
Our brave women keeping peace in the Ebola ridden territory.
If you don't understand the value of defense, it is because you are too sheltered. Ask our previous generations of what it was to go through a period of war. The wars in the 1960s, sent our dads and grandfathers hungry & tired. We will never let that happen again.
If you are an elephant, no animal dares to mess with you. If you are a deer, you are always hunted.