The only sub-theme that vies for pride of place alongside the debate on the alleged shenanigans of an inept civilian bureaucracy is the gross inadequacy of defence outlays. Governments have come and gone since 1947, but the sluggish trajectory of annual defence budgets continues, interrupted only by pay commissions and wars. It does not require any great power of prophesy to rule out a steep hike in the defence budget in the coming years. The history of the defence budget over the past seven decades should be enough to drive home this truth.
More specifically, the growth in annual defence allocations since 2014 only indicates that it is naive to expect that the gap between the demand projected by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the actual allocations made for defence in the union budget will soon be a thing of the past.
Defence analysts never tire of mentioning the year 2004 when the then outgoing government made a provision for a defence modernisation fund in the interim budget, seen till date as a bold step to address the problems besetting the modernisation of the armed forces. But it is the same political dispensation which, despite being in power now for almost three years, not only has not revived the defence modernisation fund but has also failed to cut the mustard when it comes to raising the defence expenditure.