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India military recruitment uproar exposes modernization challenge

As China adds muscle, Modi caught between aging equipment and troops' career hopes

Demonstrators wave signs protesting India's new "Path of Fire" military recruitment program in Mumbai on June 18, which experts say aims to lower personnel costs.   © AP

NEW DELHI -- Days of violent protests over a new Indian military recruitment program have created a dilemma for New Delhi, which aims to counter China and Pakistan but also faces pressure to placate angry would-be soldiers.

The government says it needs to revamp recruitment to maintain "younger, fitter" and more diverse armed forces. Many analysts, however, see the reforms as an attempt to spend more on badly needed modernization and less on salaries and pensions. Personnel costs currently eat up more than half the budget of one of the world's biggest military spenders.

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