As India is gearing up to celebrate its 71st Independence day on August 15, all the leading portals are flooded with stories ranging from Partition to freedom fighters and the heroes of new India. But it would be even interesting to view the strength of Indian Military especially after the current border situation on both LoC and LaC.
Indian armed forces with three service branches- Indian Army (Land based), Indian Air Force and Indian Navy are the Military forces of India. Additionally, Indian Armed forces are well supported by Indian Coast Guard, Paramilitary forces (Assam Rifles, Special Frontier Force) and Strategic Nuclear Command.
With President of India as its Supreme Commander, Indian Armed Forces are managed by the Ministry of Defence of the Government of India and have separate Chiefs for all the three service branches.
Behind only to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and the US, Indian military is the world's third largest standing force with more than 1.4 million active frontline personnel and 1.1 million reserve personnel.
As the mainspring of India’s strength, Indian Military has been playing a significant role in forming and executing national strategy with high loyalty and discipline.
India spends 2.5 per cent of country’s total GDP on its armed forces. In 2016, country’s national defence budget ranked 5th in the world at US $55.9 Billion. Due to poor quality Indigenous equipment supply, India’s Army buys most of its arms from countries like Russia, US and Israel, thus, making it World’s biggest arms buyer.
But, being world’s biggest arms buyer doesn’t make it world’s best-equipped force and India is far away from modernising its Army. It also lacks top-notch heavy industries, space technology and electronic industry. All these affect the strength of Indian Military.
However, the current Modi government has tried to address the issue of army’s modernisation. The govt has launched Make in India program and also opened up the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in defence up to 100 per cent.
Compared with Chinese PLA, Indian Armed Forces have a larger strategic line of defence. India’s national defence forces are fighting an everyday war with terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir and with Naxals in other insurgency hit areas. On the other hand, PLA is only concentrated in the Chinese mainland and coastal areas. It has not fought any conventional war since 1988, thus making it less experienced in battle ground strategies. On the other hand, India has fought three wars since 1962 and given the in-house insurgency has more combat experience.
A comparison between Indian Army and military forces of China and Pakistan:
Since Independence, Indian Army and PLA had indulged in direct all out confrontation twice- first in 1962 Indo-Sino war and secondly in 1967 Nathu La and Cho La clashes. In 1962 Indo-Sino war, Chinese PLA overpowered resources hit Indian Army and took the control over Aksai Chin, while in 1967 Nathu La and Cho La clashes, Indian Army had successfully chased off Chinese troops from Sikkim.
But over the years, things have changed and Chinese military has grown rapidly in terms of both size and capabilities in bid to transform itself into a top notch military force. The country has focused more on PLA’s all-round development. With increased production of hardware including satellite navigation system, warships and warplanes, Chinese PLA has become world’s largest military force in terms of raw manpower and third strongest in terms of military might.
The Chinese military, with an annual budget of USD 216 billion has 2.3 million active front line personnel while India has only 1.3 million. According to a report published by research firm Credit Suisse in 2015, the dragon military had 9,150 tanks, 2,860 aircrafts and 67 submarines.
Ranked at no. 11, Pakistan Military is also considered one of the strongest Militaries of the world and the country has more than 6 lakh active frontline personnel, 2,924 tanks, 914 aircrafts and 8 submarines. Despite being nuclear enabled, Pakistani army does not possess any serious threat to India in a conventional war.
Indian military with more than 13 lakh active front line personnel is one of the world’s largest military powers on the planet. Ranked at no. 5, Indian armed forces have the firepower of 6,464 tanks with 1,905 aircrafts and 15 submarines.
India has access to nuclear weapons and the country has developed a second strike capability.
So given the firepower and vast combat experience, Indian Military is capable enough of making the resource rich but inexperienced PLA bite chicken peas with its nose.