Agnipath-a prank with youth
Mahadeep Singh Jamwal
I understand that each government works at a different speed, and has a slightly different process. Their efforts may be painstaking, wanting each sentence-each word of their policies to carry weight. But I also understand from my experience that haste makes waste thus we must learn diligence before speedy execution. Before scripting a few lines on the ‘Agnipath’ scheme of the present government, I feel my duty to refresh our memory by visiting the similar nature of policies thrust upon by the Modi government without debates, discussions and due diligence. When we traverse the page of those policies of the Modi government that attracted maximum criticism, broadly agitated and that claimed thousands of lives, all were brought in haste and burdened over people overnight. These policies were never debated and discussed at the appropriate forum. This speaks of the autocratic attitude of the government. We remember Narendra Modi’s surprise announcement about invalidation of the country’s most circulated cash becoming more than just inconvenience for many and then Prime Minister Narendra Modi appearing on the scene with an emotional appeal to the people to support the demonetization asking them to bear the pain for 50 days and then punish him if problems persist, when more than hundred lives have lost for unethical decision. Similarly after maintaining adamancy and stubbornness for over a year, Prime Minister, having in vision the forthcoming elections in some states and fear of losing them, with an apology to the people, withdrew the farmers’ bills after the protests against these bills claimed more than six hundred lives. Both of these decisions were never debated, discussed and analyzed in Parliament and appropriate forums because of the reasons present decision makers consider themselves to be the ‘Demi-Gods’. But after agitations & protests across the nation, heavy loss to the national property, normal life coming to stand still, and heavy loss of innocent lives withdraw their autocratic decisions with crocodile tears to gain sympathy.
In consonance with the above references, now the protests are against the ‘Agnipath’, a policy for recruitment of youths into the defence services. There is a huge row going on against the government’s newly launched Agnipath scheme to recruit youth for a time period of four years. Mainly the agitators’ point of view that the scheme be scrapped as it tinkers with sanity of the armed forces and doesn’t have provisions like pension etc. There is uncertainty of the future of the beneficiary of this scheme. It doesn’t provide job security. The government harps on benefits like that 25 per cent of such recruits will be retained in the forces that will ultimately get permanent jobs. The scheme aims to recruit around 46,000 youth aged between 17.5 to 21 years every year (23 years for this year) and those not getting continuity (75 per cent) after four year will have to pack up. This will add 34,500 youths every year in the age group of 21.5 to 25 years in unemployment data. Thus, the government providing permanent jobs to 25 per cent under this scheme every year is just a joke as 75 per cent of these recruits will be joining the race course to seek jobs as unemployed. Those not found eligible for retention will get a financial backing of about Rs 12 Lakh (50 per cent self contributions) by which they can start their own business or utilize the funds for further education. Here we forget that 12 lakh at present appears to be sensational but devaluation after four years will be weakening the currency that will increase cost of living and inflation will bring the value of 12 lakh to that of just a few chips in the wallet. If after four years they take to upgrade their education, in that case, after upgrading their qualification to a graduate level that will take at least 3-4 years. It means at the age of 30 years they will start wandering again in search of a job. Those not eligible for continuation, will be given priority, when it comes to hiring at CAPS and Assam Rifle. Better would have been if this scheme was brought for CAPF rather than in the Indian Army that is not an experimental platform for such schemes. Majority of the Army Veterans are of the view that this scheme can put thousands of lives of Agniveers at risk as it takes 7-8 years for an individual to become a fully-trained combatant. Whereas serving one has to be faithful to the government hence obviously they will be speaking positively about this scheme. But I am sure they all are shaken from the inside because of this scheme for recruitment in three wings of the Indian Army. The announcement of the government that all those recruited under this scheme will be entitled for hardship allowance, 30 days leave, TA, uniform, canteen facility are merely to attract the youth, who are well aware that this scheme is putting their future in the dark. Realizing this fact, how psychologically they will be prepared to secure their country and how the spirit of serving the nation will be inculcated in them raises a million dollar question? There will be two parallel flows of mind one from full time serving ‘Sainiks’ and other one with unsettled minds ‘Agniveer’ and this imbalance will bring inefficiency in delivery of services towards nations security. The Army is playing a great role in defending country from enemy countries, it is playing great role in maintaining internal security of the country, and it is fighting with militancy and facing terrorism. All those wicked minds behind these activities are highly trained in dealing with sophisticated weaponry, world class communication system & technology, war tactics, and above all with brain-wash for suicidal acts. Against this we are placing just six month trained Agniveer and there will always be hesitancy in them because of tenure of their job in the Army. This way we are not going to prepare a strong force to counter highly trained militants but we are creating a soft & green fodder for them. Concluding it appears to me that by virtue of the ‘Agnipath’ scheme, the government is playing ‘Prank with youth’.