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India is the world’s largest weapons importer, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) found. At least 9 percent of all arms deals—the highest percentage of any country—occur there, with approximately 82 percent of imports coming from Russia.
“China and India remained the largest arms importers in the world,” SIPRI reported. “Also among the top 10 importers were five Middle Eastern countries.”
A Foreign Policy article stated, “India has kept pace with its neighbor to the north [China] and, in some areas, is actually exceeding it—a development that, though much less noted, is a sign of the growing militarization of the region as a new generation of emerging powers with global ambitions jockeys for regional supremacy.”
The rising military profile of the world’s largest democracy in the region is welcomed by the United States.
“As the economic power, cultural reach, and political influence of India increase, it is assuming a more influential role in global affairs,” a U.S. Quadrennial Defense Review Report stated. “This growing influence, combined with democratic values it shares with the United States, an open political system, and a commitment to global stability, will present many opportunities for cooperation. India’s military capabilities are rapidly improving through increased defense acquisitions, and they now include long-range maritime surveillance, maritime interdiction and patrolling, air interdiction, and strategic airlift.”
According to a SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme official, India’s importation of weaponry is driven by rivalries with other nations, including Pakistan and China, as well as its own national security issues.
“An overview of India’s latest military acquisitions may give the impression of being China centric yet these developments only serve to further escalate the looming threat to Pakistan,” The News International reported.
The newspaper later stated, “This presents military planners in Pakistan with difficult options to maintain a credible balance of deterrence.”