Here is what Parl Panel has to say about India’s Defence R&D

The spending on R&D hit a low of 4.62% ( ₹15,707 crore) in 2020-21.

New Delhi: India needs to spend more on defence research and development if it aspires to be a global leader, a Parliamentary panel said in its latest report, while drawing attention to the “continuous decline” in the DRDO’s spending as a percentage of the country’s overall defence expenditure during the last 10 to 15 years.

“With the current percentage of funding, our country can only aspire to become atmanirbhar and protect ourselves. However, to aspire to become a global leader, this percentage will not be sufficient,” the standing committee on defence said in the report tabled in Parliament on the working of the Defence Research and Development Organisation.

To be sure, in absolute terms, the R&D expenditure of the organisation has more than doubled since 2010-11 – from ₹10,149 crore to the current ₹23,264 crore, according to defence ministry data. However, as a percentage of the total defence expenditure, the spending on R&D has come down from 6.59% to the current 5.38%.

The spending on R&D hit a low of 4.62% ( ₹15,707 crore) in 2020-21.

The R&D expenditure as a percentage of defence budget should be increased in the coming years so that DRDO can achieve its objectives, the panel said, giving a breakup of figures related to the spending on defence R&D.

“A trend is emerging which is registering a continuous decline in DRDO expenditure percentage-wise. It was 6.59% in 2010-11, which was reduced to 5.79% in 2011-12. It was again reduced to 5.39% in 2012-13…further declined to 5.34% in 2013-14. The share slightly improved to 6.6% in 2014-15 but was again reduced to 5.89% during 2015-16…. In 2019-20, the percentage was enhanced and stood at 6.23%, but…in the last three financial years, the share was merely 5.89%, 5.53% and 5.38%,” the panel said in its report.

DRDO spends around 36% of its annual budget on the development of strategic systems required by the country’s military and many such systems have been inducted, the report said.

The panel flagged concern over the mismatch between the projected budget and the actual allocation.

“During the last two years, there has been a decrease in the budget estimation and the budget approved or allocated. In 2021-22, the projected amount was ₹23,460 crore and the allocated amount was ₹20,457 crore. Later, at the revised estimate stage, the allocation was reduced to ₹18,337 crore. Likewise, in 2022-23, the projected amount was ₹22,990 crore and the allocated amount stood at ₹21,330 crore. Since providing a budget to an organisation is a conscientious exercise envisaging R&D activities, making a cut at the last stage will have an adverse impact on the performance of the organisation.”

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