India allocated $83.6 billion towards modernising various weapons and combat systems in 2023, thus ranking as the fourth-largest military spender, according to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri). India was preceded by the United States (US), China, and Russia, as the top-three military spenders.

India's military expenditure grew by 4.2% in 2023 as compared to 2022, showcasing its strategic emphasis on enhancing defence capabilities, especially along the China border following the Ladakh standoff that commenced in May 2020. This investment encompasses upgrading fighter jets, helicopters, warships, tanks, artillery guns, rockets, missiles, unmanned systems, and other military equipment.

This is the second consecutive year where India held the fourth spot. In 2022, the country’s military spending reached a whopping $81.4 billion, marking a 6% increase from 2021 and a significant 47% rise since 2013.

In contrast, China, the world's second-largest military spender, allocated approximately $296 billion to its military in 2023, reflecting a 6% increase from 2022 when spending was estimated at $292 billion.

This was the 29th consecutive year-on-year rise in China’s military expenditure. The report highlights that several neighbouring countries of China have also heightened their military spending in response to Beijing's expenditure.

Globally, total military expenditure surged to $2,443 billion in 2023, marking a 6.8% increase from 2022, driven by ongoing conflicts, escalating tensions, and global insecurity, as per the report.

"The unprecedented rise in military spending is a direct response to the global deterioration in peace and security,” says Nan Tian, a senior researcher with Sipri’s Military Expenditure and Arms Production Programme.

For the first time since 2009, military expenditure went up in all five of the geographical regions defined by Sipri, with particularly large increases recorded in Europe, Asia and Oceania and the Middle East.

The US witnessed a 2.3% rise in military spending, reaching $916 billion in 2023, while Russia's military expenditure soared by 24% to an estimated $109 billion in 2023 due to the war with Ukraine.

Ukraine also experienced a significant spending surge, with military expenditure hitting $64.8 billion, making it the eighth-largest spender in 2023.

“For European NATO states, the past two years of war in Ukraine have fundamentally changed the security outlook. This shift in threat perceptions is reflected in growing shares of GDP being directed towards military spending, with the NATO target of 2 per cent increasingly being seen as a baseline rather than a threshold to reach,” says Lorenzo Scarazzato, researcher with SIPRI’s Military Expenditure and Arms Production Programme.

Notably, the top five global military spenders in 2023 collectively account for 61% of the world's total military expenditure.

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