Interim Budget 2024: Defence Gets Highest Budgetary Allocation

By Sri Krishna

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New Delhi: With an eye on the upcoming Parliamentary elections and ruling BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi striving for a record third term, it has given the highest allocation for defence in the interim Budget 2024 of Rs 6.2 lakh crore, an increase of 4.3 per cent from last year’s Rs 5.94 lakh crore.

Presenting the Budget, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the focus is on Deep Tech Technologies for defence purposes and a new scheme for expediting “Aatmanirbharta.”

In her speech,  the Minister revealed that the Ministry of Defence has been given a budget of Rs 6.2 lakh crore, an increase of 4.3 per cent from last year’s Rs 5.94 crores.

Like last year, the Ministry of Defence’s budget again constitutes a major chunk of India’s interim budget.

What stands out in this year’s defence budget, is that Finance Minister Sitharaman announced a new scheme, which will be launched for strengthening Deep Tech technologies for defence purposes and expediting ‘Aatmanirbharta’ of the defence forces.

Deep Tech refers to technologies that are based on cutting-edge scientific and engineering advancements, often involving substantial AI, ML and other ground breaking innovations.

It encompasses a wide range of fields such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, nanotechnology, biotechnology, and quantum computing. What sets Deep Tech apart is its focus on solving complex problems and pushing the boundaries of what is currently possible.

One key characteristic of Deep Tech is its reliance on deep scientific principles and intricate technical knowledge. These technologies often involve substantial research and development efforts, requiring multidisciplinary expertise. Deep Tech innovations have the potential to transform industries, enhance efficiency, and address challenges that were once considered insurmountable.

Considering that the modern combat zone has evolved in ways people couldn’t have imagined a few years, ago, investors and entrepreneurs are drawn to Deep Tech due to its long-term impact and the possibility of creating disruptive solutions.

More and more countries are using AI and ML to plan their logistics in military operations. Some, are even using AI-powered missiles to hit targets, while others are in the process of developing AI-powered fighter jets. Furthermore, robotics are becoming an increasing part of militaries all over the world.

Considering that some of the world’s most technologically advanced militaries have already been investing in Deep Tech technologies, it was only a matter of time before India’s defence sector too had a dedicated arm working on something like this.

The increase in budget is in line with the contractual commitments and the allocation of resources for modernisation efforts that was expected. Additionally, the increase in budget is expected to cover salary increments, pension funds, and strategic requirements, along with fostering strategic collaborations with domestic industries.