When military spending zooms past a pandemic crisis

Military spending by nations, including India, skyrocketed even as the pandemic was eating into people’s health and well-being, says SIPRI data.

The coronavirus spread had spurred many a sector to go into slow-speed mode, with social, economic and healthcare parameters being dealt with a body blow over the past two years. However, there are areas where the pandemic failed to have its stranglehold on. And prime among them was the rate at which military spending went on.

Significantly, in 2021, when the pandemic raged, India spent a lot of money in buying military equipment. Statistics reveal that India was the third-highest military spender in the world behind the US and China during 2021. In global terms, the defence expenditure skyrocketed to an all-time high of $2.1 trillion during the year. Going by a report quoting the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), military spending touched a record even though the pandemic was rummaging through the socio-economic horizon of the globe.

India among top five military spending nations

SIPRI date has revealed that the United States, China, India, the United Kingdom, and Russia were the top five military spenders in the world. These nations accounted for 62 percent of the global military expenditure during the period. Be it a healthcare emergency or an economic crisis, war games continue without any abetment, and the record increase in military spending by nations proves that the love for hatred and armed conflict would never wane.

It is important to take note of the fact that India, one of the worst Covid-19 hit nations, wasn’t prepared to leave its arms buying spree even when its economy was in a shambles owing to the pandemic. The country’s military spending which stood at $76.6 billion in 2021, was a rise of 0.9 per cent from 2020 and 33 per cent from 2012.  Reasons put forward are many. They range from tensions from across the Pakistan border and boundary feuds with China. India’s priority was to modernize its armed forces and stay self-reliant in terms of arms production.

Stocking arms when the virus went crazy

Sad enough, the love for arms took centre stage even when a virus was eating into the health, finance and social well-being of the common man. Skyrocketing of military spending in times of even the pandemic need to be seen as just that.

On the global arena, the US accounted for 38 per cent of the global military spending, while China was responsible for close to 14 percent in 2021. The UK spend $68.4 billion during the year towards arms purchase.  Russia, which is currently at war with Ukraine, also posed a rise in military expenditure for the third consecutive year during the year.

The SIPRI report needs to be given attention in the background of a major health crisis the world had gone through. When arms expenditure stays on top of nations’ minds, what chance do healthcare and peace have?

Sanjeev Ramachandran

A journalist with 23 years of experience, Sanjeev has worked with reputed media houses such as Business Standard, The Ne More »

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