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India increases defence budget by 25 percent

INDIA yesterday said defence spending would grow by 25 percent in 2009-10 to US$29.4 billion as it moves to modernize weapons systems and overhaul its security forces after last year's Mumbai attacks exposed major gaps.

Additionally, the country will spend US$562 million exclusively for boosting border security and modernizing its police force, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said while reading the budget yesterday.

"Significant augmentation in the strength of the paramilitary forces is being done. This calls for more investment in creating the necessary infrastructure," Mukherjee said.

Last year, India raised defence spending by 10 percent before announcing plans to spend more than US$30 billion over the next five years to upgrade its largely Soviet-era weapons systems. As part of that, it is planning one of its biggest-ever deals, the US$10 billion purchase of 126 fighter jets.

India is integrating its three armed forces and increasing security along its coasts after Pakistani militants attacked Mumbai by sea.


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