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India is world’s largest arms importer
New Delhi, Mar 13 (Agencies):
Published on 14 Mar. 2011 12:56 AM IST
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In its race to join the club of international powers, India has reached another milestone - it’s now the world’s largest weapons importer.
A Swedish think tank that monitors global arms sales has said that India’s weapons imports had overtaken China’s, as the South Asian nation pushes ahead with plans to modernise its military and gain international clout.
“India has ambitions to become first a continental and (then) a regional power,” said Rahul Bedi, a South Asia analyst with London-based Jane’s Defence Weekly. According to the report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, India accounted for nine per cent of all international arms imports in the period from 2006 to 2010, and it is expected to keep the top spot for the foreseeable future. China dropped to second place, with six per cent of global imports, as it continued to build up its domestic arms industry, Wezeman said.
The United States was the largest arms exporter, followed by Russia and Germany, according to the report.
The institute measures arms transactions over a five-year period to take into account the long time lag between orders and delivery of arms.
India is spending billions of dollars on fighter jets and aircraft carriers to modernise its air force and navy. With its booming economy and growing power, India has been pushing for a greater international role, including a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. To buttress its claim, Bedi said, a modernised Indian military would need to take part in more global operations, helping countries suffering from natural calamities and joining peacekeeping missions.
India’s defence budget for the coming year is Rs 1.5 trillion ($ 32.5 billion), a 40 per cent increase from two years before. It imports more than 70 per cent of its arms.
The vast majority of those imports, 82 per cent, come from Russia, which has long been India’s supplier of choice, the report said. But other countries have been pushing for a chunk of the lucrative market, with world leaders streaming here in recent months, in part to push defence deals.

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