In a modest increase, the government announced a rise in the defence budget to Rs 6.21 lakh crore for the fiscal year 2024-25, compared to the previous year's allocation of Rs 5.94 lakh crore. The interim Union budget, presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, allocated a total of Rs 1.72 lakh crore to the military for capital expenditure, primarily for acquiring new weapons, aircraft, warships, and other military hardware. This marks an increase from the capital outlay of Rs 1.62 lakh crore in the budget for 2023-24.
Finance Minister Sitharaman introduced an ambitious scheme for "deep-tech" technologies in the military domain, emphasizing the importance of self-reliance ('atmanirbharta') in this area.
The breakdown of the budget includes Rs 4,39,300 crore for total revenue expenditure, encompassing Rs 1,41,205 crore for defence pensions, Rs 2,82,772 crore for defence services, and Rs 15,322 crore for the Ministry of Defence (Civil).
Within the capital outlay for defence services, Rs 40,777 crore is allocated for aircraft and aero engines, while Rs 62,343 crore is earmarked for "other equipment." Additionally, Rs 23,800 crore is set aside for naval fleet and Rs 6,830 crore for naval dockyard projects.
For the Army, the revenue expenditure is pegged at Rs 1,92,680 crore for the fiscal year 2024-25, while the Navy and the Indian Air Force have been allocated Rs 32,778 crore and Rs 46,223 crore, respectively.
Dr. Laxman Kumar Behera, Associate Professor at the Special Centre for National Security Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, characterized the overall allocation under the defence budget as modest, reflecting the government's priorities for the military.
(With Agency Inputs)