NEW YORK: The top US newspaper has presented a gloomy picture of Indian military capabilities and stated that the aerial combat with Pakistan in which it lost a fighter jet has ‘left observers a bit dumbfounded’.
“It was an inauspicious moment for a military the United States is banking on to help keep an expanding China in check,” the New York Times said in a hard-hitting analysis Sunday.
Comparing with Pakistan, the NYT said, India’s loss of a fighter jet last week to a country whose military is about half the size and receives a quarter of the funding was still telling.
“India’s armed forces are in alarming shape,” wrote Maria Abi-Habib, the NYT’s Staff Correspondent in South Asia.
“If intense warfare broke out tomorrow, India could supply its troops with only 10 days of ammunition, according to government estimates. And 68 percent of the army’s equipment is so old, it is officially considered ‘vintage’,” she commented.
Gaurav Gogoi, a lawmaker and member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defense told the NYT that “troops lack modern equipment, but they have to conduct 21st-century military operations”.
Washington, which considered New Delhi as a key alliance and is keen on investing in enhancing India’s readiness, is ‘frustrated’ over the situation.
“A swollen bureaucracy makes arms sales and joint training exercises cumbersome; Indian forces are vastly underfunded; and the country’s navy, army and air force tend to compete rather than work together,” the officials involved in training say.
“In 2018, India announced a military budget of some $45 billion. By comparison, China’s military budget that year was $175 billion. Last month, Delhi announced another $45 billion budget. It is not just a question of how much India spends on its military, but how it spends it.”
“At a time when modern armies are investing hugely on upgrading their intelligence and technical capabilities, we need to be doing the same,” said Gogoi.