Why does India import a lot of military products instead of developing and producing them locally like China?



JC Hóu, studied at National Taiwan University

The existing answers here lack perspective.


They are either from Indians ranting about the inefficiency, corruption and lack of vision of the Indian leadership, both in the past and present, or from either Indians or non-Indians attributing the disparity to flimsy arguments (“India licenses and builds while China copies”, or “China had a stronger industry of manufacturing way back than India”, or “India was too socialist while China embraced capitalism earlier”, or “China has discipline and authoritarian control while India is much more loose” - do people see these last two points are contradictory??) lacking quantitative support.


Why doesn’t anyone see the biggest reason can be shown with a simple, straightforward comparison of INPUT?


Research and development expenditure (% of GDP) in China


11-in China.png

Research and development expenditure (% of GDP) in India


12-in India.png

See how the numbers differ? This is without considering the nominal gap of GDP between the countries. To put things into perspective, the US always spends well above 2%: Research and development expenditure (% of GDP) in the United States.


Here’s another set:


China Military Expenditure | 1989-2018 | Data | Chart | Calendar | Forecast



India Military Expenditure | 1956-2018 | Data | Chart | Calendar | Forecast



Even in early 1990s (where the curve starts) China already spent more, and that was AFTER significant cuts compared to the 1970s and early 1980s.


Eventually, it boils down to who has placed more investment on R&D and defense procurement. India has spent much less, rendering efficiency disparity far less dominant, let alone all the other pseudo-arguments. Can you outperform someone who outspends you? Sure it's possible in theory, but unlikely in reality.

So there should be little surprise to see disparities like we are seeing today.


译文来源:三泰虎 http://www.santaihu.com/46280.html    译者:Jessica.Wu


Sterling Saini, Aviation Enthusiast; specifically SCO jet fighters.

India did develop a bit of their own tech, but there is a problem with that.

(Note that this answer is for the air force component only. I am not an expert in the army or navy)



The West and the USSR had been developing weapons for a long time. And they had the funds to pursue expensive R & D that most countries couldn’t spend. So whichever weapons India built, foreign weapons were a lot more likely to be better. So India imported the best weapons, and license-build them. In short, India likes to manufacture Russian weapons in India, so they get some benefit.


But China took a different approach. Instead of spending R & D on developing weapons, they spend their limited budgets on copying weapons from an unsuspecting or money-desperate buyer.


For example, when the Soviets stopped selling this plane to the Chinese… (image from wikipedia unless specified)

15- specified.png

the Chinese said ‘meh’ and started rolling out this copy plane - the Chengdu J-7.



So the Chinese made their military industry of copying things.


The problem with that? You alienise yourself from all you allies, none of which really trusted you in the first place. So they realise that they shouldn’t sell their best tech to you unless they have to, because the weapon will be in boxes to Beijing 24 hours after delivery. An example? The Su-30MKK, which was less advanced than the Su-30MKI. This example from J-STOR, which I finish with, details the Chinese position is on Russia holding back their weapons technology.

问题在哪里呢?你疏远了所有盟友,没有一个真正信任你。除非他们别无选择,否则他们不会把最好的技术卖给你。比如,苏-30MKK(中国空军装备的,俄罗斯苏霍伊设计局设计师科内舍夫在苏-27和苏-30的基础上重新设计的)不如苏- 30MKI(印度空军装备的主力战斗机由俄罗斯制造出口)先进。这个例子说明了俄罗斯对中国隐瞒了武器技术。

For Russia, the major difference in its perception of China and India—its two largest defence customers—is that, traditionally, China has been perceived as a potential security threat to Russia while India has not been viewed as such.Despite the ease of production and delivery of secondtier military systems to China, Russian policy on arms transfer has provoked much grievance from some isolated Chinese quarters. Ming-Yen Tsai, author of From Adversaries to Partners, interviewed several Chinese experts, who complained that Russia had not sold China its best weapons.16 Under these circumstances, China has continued to develop next-generation weapons indigenously. In explaining why China sought to develop the JH-7 (FB-7 Flounder) fighter-bomber, the aircraft’s general designer, Chen Yi-jian, stressed: ‘China is unlikely to buy the latest weapons from abroad. Foreign states usually retain important technologies while exporting arms.’17

俄罗斯对中国和印度(两个最大的国防客户)的看法的主要不同之处在于:传统上,中国一直被视为俄罗斯的潜在安全威胁,而印度则不然。尽管俄罗斯向中国提供二级军事系统的生产和交付,但俄罗斯的武器转让政策却引起了一些不满。《从对手到伙伴》的作者 蔡明彦采访了几位中国专家,他们抱怨俄罗斯没有向中国出售最好的武器。在这种情况下,中国继续自主研发下一代武器。在解释中国为何研发“歼轰-7”歼击轰炸机时,总设计师陈一坚强调说,中国不太可能从国外购到最新式的武器,外国在出口武器时通常保留重要技术。


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