The defence stunt
Finance minister Piyush Goyal said in his budget speech that the defence allocation had crossed Rs 3 lakh crore for the first time, but the outlay represents a modest hike compared to last year’s allotment of Rs 2.95 lakh crore.
Defence ministry sources said the outlay for the 2019-2020 interim budget was Rs 3.18 lakh crore, a meagre increase from last fiscal’s allocation of Rs 2,95,511 crore. The increase works out to Rs 22,489 crore, or 7.6 per cent.
“This is a very modest increase, in a way the smallest increase in recent years considering the muscular politics of the Narendra Modi government,” said a defence ministry official.
According to him the allocation represents a decline after factoring in inflation and currency fluctuations.
An official in the army headquarters said the paltry increase paled in front of the army’s massive modernisation drive. “This should also be seen in the context of China, which raised its defence budget last year by 8.1 per cent,” he said.
While presenting the budget, Goyal said: “Our defence budget will be crossing Rs 3,00,000 crore for the first time in 2019-20. For securing our borders and to maintain preparedness of the highest order, if necessary, additional funds would be provided,” he said.
Referring to strengthening defence and national security, the finance minister said soldiers protected India’s borders in tough conditions and that due care had been taken for them.
Goyal said One Rank One Pension (Orop), which had been pending for 40 years, had been resolved.
“The previous governments announced it in three budgets but sanctioned a mere Rs 500 crore in the 2014-15 interim budget. In contrast we have already disbursed over Rs 35,000 crore after implementing the scheme in its true spirit,” he said.
The finance minister said the government had also announced a substantial hike in the military service pay of all personnel and that special allowances had been given to naval and air force members on high-risk duties.