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
Research and development expenditure (% of GDP) in India
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)
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.
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