relationship between India and Pakistan and public opinion on India’s image in the world determine
people’s attitudes regarding India’s defence spending. Third, the federal location of respondents affects
the manner in which they perceive national security and requirement for defence expenditure—in the
sense that whether or not they inhabit states in India which have witnessed presence of the army for
ensuring internal security and maintenance of law and order for protracted periods of time has an effect
on people’s attitudes.
Intuitively, it would seem likely that those who think that the national security situation of the country
has deteriorated would prefer higher defence spending for redressing the perceived security threat.
On the other hand, people who have the opinion that national security of the country has improved or
remained the same should ideally not extend support for an increase in defence expenditure since they
are satisfied with the current scenario. However, data points out that there are a significant number of
people who hold an opinion that though the national security of India has improved, the country should
invest more in the army even if it is at a higher cost to people.
An examination of the literature on national security and defence expenditure in the Indian context
reveals that studies on public perception regarding these issues are scantily available. There is relatively
scarce data available to enable such analysis and the data which does exist has not been thoroughly
analyzed. Over the past two decades or so, India’s role in world politics has become increasingly signi-
ficant. Many analysts argue that India is on the way to becoming a significant global power (Farwick,
2006). January 2015 needs to be marked out as a significant time for the intensification and solidification
of the bilateral relationship between India and the United States (US). A critical component of this is
a proposed defence collaboration between the two states (The Economic Times, 2015). In this scenario,
India’s foreign policy decisions and defence strategy acquire enhanced importance as now they are up
for scrutiny not only within the country but on a global level also.
It is also important to point out that in India, access to basic necessities such as food, shelter, clothing,
education and health services continues to be a challenge. In such a scenario, it becomes important to
be able to understand the rationale for disproportionately high defence expenditures.
India has had fraught relations with some of its neighbours, including Pakistan, China, Sri Lanka and
Nepal. India has fought four wars with Pakistan (1947, 1965, 1971 and 1999) and one with China (1962).
Ever since the Partition in 1947, an attitude of hostility towards Pakistan continues to mark Indian
foreign policy as well as public perception. The sentiment of religious nationalism becomes a determin-
ing factor in this context. In some ways, religious nationalism was the driving force for the partition
between India and Pakistan.3 My argument would be that this spirit of religious nationalism continues
to be a dominant factor in the Indian context even today, and this determines the way people think
about national security and defence expenditure. Further, it has been argued that national security is one
of the central elements of the ideology of the Sangh Parivar and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Hindu
nationalism articulated by these groups projects a strong militaristic Indian state (Manchanda, 2007).
Work has been done on analyzing the foreign policy objectives of the BJP aimed at making India
3 During the time of the independence struggle, Muslim communalists and Hindu communalists rallied for the creation of a Muslim
nation and a Hindu nation as independent states (see ‘An Extract from the Presidential Address of M.A. Jinnah—Lahore, March
1940’, cited in Hasan, 1993, pp. 50–56; Shakir, 1986). For Hindu nationalism during independence struggle, see Dixit (1986).