New Delhi: India's military expenditure increased to USD 76.6 billion in 2021, marking a 0.9 per cent hike over the 2020 figures, according to a report released by defence think-tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) on Monday.
"China, the world's second largest spender, allocated an estimated USD 293 billion to its military in 2021, an increase of 4.7 per cent from 2020 and 72 per cent from 2012," the report said.
The militaries of India and China have been in a border standoff in eastern Ladakh for the last 23 months following a violent clash in the Pangong lake areas on May 5, 2020. Each side currently has around 50,000 to 60,000 troops deployed along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
"India's military expenditure of USD 76.6 billion in 2021 was the third highest in the world. Its spending was up by 0.9 per cent from 2020 and by 33 per cent from 2012," the report issued by the Stockholm-based defence think-tank said.
Amid ongoing tensions and border disputes with China and Pakistan that occasionally spill over into armed clashes, India has prioritised the modernisation of its armed forces and self-reliance in arms production, it noted.
In a drive to strengthen the indigenous arms industry, 64 per cent of capital outlays in the 2021 Indian military budget was earmarked for acquisitions of domestically-produced arms, the report said.
"The five largest military spenders in 2021 were the United States, China, India, the United Kingdom and Russia, which together accounted for 62 per cent of world military spending. The USA and China alone accounted for 52 per cent," it mentioned.
According to the report, military spending in Asia and Oceania totalled USD 586 billion in 2021.
"Spending in the region was 3.5 per cent higher than in 2020, continuing an uninterrupted upward trend dating back to at least 1989," the report said.
"The increase in 2021 was due primarily to growth in Chinese and Indian military spending. Together, the two countries accounted for 63 per cent of total military expenditure in the region in 2021," the report added.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had, on April 21, said the ongoing talks with China for a peaceful resolution of the eastern Ladakh row will continue and that the disengagement of the troops and de-escalation of the situation is the way forward.
In an address at the biannual Army Commanders' Conference, Singh had also said the Indian troops are standing firm, braving extreme weather and hostile forces, to defend the country's territorial integrity.
In the backdrop of the Russia-Ukraine war, he had asked the top Army commanders to prepare for every possible security challenge that India may face in the future, including that of unconventional and asymmetric warfare.