In a perception management exercise that accompanied the annual Union Budget on Tuesday, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) sought to convey that it has significantly raised the defence allocations and created the policy conditions needed for the domestic defence industry to flourish and thrive. In a series of upbeat press releases, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s formidable public relations machinery put out the following factual points: First, of the total government outlay of Rs 39.45 trillion in the Union Budget of 2022-23, the MoD was allocated Rs 5.25 trillion, or 13.31 per cent of total government spending. There was silence on the fact that — even as Chinese troops of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) continue squatting on territory that we claim as our own — this was the lowest allocation in percentage terms since the 1950s. Furthermore, as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP), the defence allocation amounted to just 2.03 per cent, threatening to fall below the 2 per cent threshold.
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