Arms exports to and military expenditures in developing countries have consistently attracted considerable criticism since the development of upward trends in the 1970s. More recently, the range of people and organizations prepared both to criticize and to act has become broader.
Since 1947, and especially since 1962, India has maintained a strong defence sector. During the 1980s, after a decade of unprecedented regional stability following the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War, defence procurement and expenditure began to rise steeply. In part this was in response to technical requirements once the economy and foreign exchange reserves began to improve. Yet the scale and rate of defence procurement frequently seemed to be more than and beyond what the nation required for modernization on the one hand and security on the other. Nor did there seem to be any great defence logic in what appeared to be a continuing nuclear weapon programme.
In the late 1980s the defence modernization programme fell victim to over-expansion and rising international indebtedness and the defence sector fell into chaos and disarray, from which it will take the country many years to recover. However, the nuclear weapon programme proceeded apace.
While this will not present a major crisis for national security planners - India remains relatively secure - it does raise many questions about how defence policy is made and managed and what dynamics are at work. In this study, the author attempts a rigorous and comprehensive analysis of why India buys the weapons it does and what motivates the defence process. The conclusions suggest that the quest for great power status, rather than national security, is uppermost in the minds of politicians when security decisions are taken and that decisions are taken in a haphazard, ad hoc manner.
'The book certainly stimulates debate on the direction of India's defence policy since 1947. But it also underlines that many other countries will have to consider their own in the coming years. His thesis is clear: India could have achieved adequate defence at much less cost.'
Turkish Daily News
`elegant and wide-ranging guide to the evolution of India's defence policies since Independence ... Much that it took me four and a half years there to learn (and fail to learn) about India's preoccupation with her own security is explained here with clarity and concision'
The RUSI Journal
`the work is very well documented and constitutes a very reliable guide to Indian defence'
NOD & Conversion
`Mr Chris Smith ... has written a truly seminal book ... this is an astoundingly insightful analysis of India's defence system.'
`Smith's contribution appears timely and significant. The approach is historical ... Smith makes a forceful and perceptive comment on the nature of India's defence posturing since independence ... The part India played in this transforming of attitude leading to the emergence of the `new thinking' is a substantial element of this volume ... well researched ... will certainly be of much interest to those concerned with the restructuring of India's
priorities in the region especially in the light of the collapse of the Soviet Union.'
Journal of Commonwealth and Comparative Politics
`a very welcome addition to the literature on the defence planning and management in India .. this is a very useful and timely book for students of strategic studies in India.'
`If India ends up going to war over Kashmir, Chris Smith's India's Ad Hoc Arsenal will help obervers understand in what manner, and with what weapons, the Indian military can fight. Smith provides a comprehensive review of all major Indian weapons acquisitions, a summary of India's military history since partition, and an evaluation of its various defense policies.'
`Smith does a great deal with published material and defence white papers. He provides a clear, very well organized, and frequently insightful discussion of the disarray into which Indian defence policy has fallen even as its spending has accelerated over the past three decades. His opening chapter on the geo-strategic setting of Indian defence over the centuries is a model of succinct yet penetrating analysis.'
Small Wars and Insurgencies
`Chris Smith, a researcher and lecturer of considerable experience, has written a detailed and illuminating account ... bringing the story up to date in an orderly and understandable fashion.'
Army Quarterly and Defence Journal