Financial prudence in defence spending is essential
 
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Guest Column - Force Magazine
In Defence of Economics

Financial prudence in defence spending is essential
 

Maj. Gen. Mrinal Suman (retd) Maj. Gen. Mrinal Suman (retd)

While addressing a think-tank function on 4 May 2017, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat stressed the need to appreciate that defence and economy go hand in hand. “Only strong military can help in ensuring stability along the borders and within the nation in the hinterland and that will help to develop the economy,” he said. He lamented the fact that while developing the economy, military was not getting its due share.

The policy governing allocation of resources for the defence of a country is a dynamic process that changes with political dispensation in power, geo-political milieu and threat perception. Investment in defence is not carried out to utilise spare and disposable resources but is an essential cost that a nation has to pay to acquire assurance of security. And, without assured national security, economic prosperity remains a pipe-dream. Indisputably, militaries in all countries remain dissatisfied with the quantum of resources allotted to them and demand more. India is no exception.

Whereas demand for additional allocations by the armed forces is understandable, it is equally incumbent on them to exercise extreme financial prudence in defence expenditure to ensure optimum utilisation of the scarce resources. The armed forces owe it to the nation. Prudence means exercise of ‘care and good sense’ while making a decision or taking action. Financial prudence implies acting with utmost propriety and acumen; and exercising due care, caution and attention to obtain best value for money.

The discipline of defence economics is the most potent tool that helps ensure financial prudence. It encompasses all aspects of defence imperatives that have cost implications. Contrary to the common misconceptions, defence economics is not an academic exercise of theoretical value that confines itself to case studies to ascertain expenditure data of every military action or policy initiative. On the contrary, it is dynamic in nature and provides a well-evolved methodology to facilitate application of economic logic to defence issues. It is an instrument of decision making.

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