AGNIPATH Scheme: The Government shouldn’t back out of this BRILLIANT Reform

Right now, various parts of the country are being thrown into flames. A major section of the youth is out on the roads and there have been massive protests and outrage amidst highly polarized opinions. The reason for so much ‘AGNI’ in the environment is the new Agnipath Scheme. This new scheme overhauls the whole recruitment process in the Indian security forces. So, here we need to understand this scheme properly before coming up with an opinion. For that, we would have to look at the features of the scheme, its objective, and its challenges before we can conclude.

What is the Scheme?

Now, unlike in the past, post Agnipath, people only in the age group of 17.5-21 years can apply for the security forces. After that, based on the selection procedure a particular set of candidates would be chosen for all the three forces. They will finally be inducted as AGNIVEERS after a rigorous training of 6 months. Now, the drill is that for the 75% of the lot, their service would only be for 4 years, so most of them would be retiring at the age of 21 and at max at 25. However, out of them, 25% of the best performers would be retained in the forces. The rest would return to the civilian world with an accumulated sum of 11.71 lakh rupees without pension. The main idea of a scheme like this goes down as back as 1989. There were several recommendations and findings in various committees, but a full-fledged idea like this wasn’t worked out. Even this idea, was in talks since 2018, and after being halted by the pandemic, it has finally come into being now.

PDF] Agneepath Scheme (Agnipath Recruitment) PDF Download – InstaPDF

Pic: The Crux of the Agnipath Scheme

Idea and Need behind the Scheme

The first and foremost idea of the scheme is to lower the ‘Average’ age of the force. Currently, the average age stands at 32, which is targeted to be brought down to 26 by 2030, by inducting so many young recruits. Lowering the age holds high importance, firstly any middle-aged soldier is more likely to develop complications due to extreme height and extreme weather as compared to a young 19-year-old (which is actually the case happening). Similarly, the level of energy and spirit would be higher in the young gun as compared to the middle-aged man. Also, the security forces are also becoming more and more digital and technology-driven, and it is a no-brainer that today’s generation of young recruits would grasp this stuff much faster.

Secondly, the budget. You all must know, that around 25% of India’s Defence budget goes only into the pension for ex-servicemen. If you calculate both salaries and pensions, then the number crosses well above 50%. Not just that, only 27% (basically a Quarter) of the whole defence budget goes into the capital investment, ie, buying new equipment and weaponry. Now, with that minuscule amount, how can we even think of the modernisation of our Military. Now, I know many would be saying why are we thinking of money when it comes to our national security. But, can we just think ‘logically’ for a minute without getting hyper-emotional. It makes proper sense to save a huge chunk of money and invest it in making our security forces more strong and more equipped.

Thirdly, this one is not a direct result or impact of this scheme. But, if a certain section of India’s youth will serve in the military for 4 years and then return back to society. He would definitely have acquired many skills and qualities, which will be helpful to him even in his civilian life. It will surely mark his return as a more disciplined, confident and patriotic person, which will eventually also benefit society.

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Pic: The Three Security Chiefs of INDIA

Challenges in the Idea

Now, there is not one thing which doesn’t pose challenges in its implementation. And, there are quite a few in this scheme as well.

  1. As many experts pointed out, some skills in the military are acquired only with time. It takes more than 6-8 years to train a particular set of officers. This might pose a challenge in terms of the efficiency and quality of the military.
  2. Secondly, as is quite vocally being pointed out in the protests. Those returning to civilian society will find it difficult to start a new life if they want something completely non-military
  3. This point is the strongest and even I believe in this one. A Pilot Project could have been held for this idea. It would have given the results of whether there is any change in the efficiency of the soldiers or not. The idea being implemented straightaway is also a little RISKY, but I am still quite optimistic about the results.

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Why it is Worth the Risk

Firstly, I said earlier that the young and fresh minds of today’s generation are easier to be trained. So, there are high chances that a good crop will be developed in the 4-year tenure and it should not affect the efficiency. Also, 25% of the ‘Best’ of the lot will be retained. So, definitely, those having the potential to really become the leaders of the pack will be retained and trained further. Anyone who wishes to serve for life should work hard to be in the 25%. Most importantly, the military does not have to keep on fighting a war the whole year. Most of the time, a majority are only deployed in camps and cantonments and the rest are only deployed for precautionary purposes. So, even if a certain proportion is inexperienced, it’s not going to be that big deal.

And, secondly, yes, it’s true that 75% will have to find jobs or living after serving their tenure. But, it’s not like they are being disowned or something. It is a completely VOLUNTARY thing. No one is being forced into the army with their future being left hanging off the cliff. Only those will head towards the security forces, who want to serve the nation for some years and then return back to their original life. A statement which was very viral recently, that Army is not an Employment Guarantee Scheme. Yes, it sounds a little harsh…but again let’s think logically and not emotionally for a moment. The security forces should be developed based on the requirement, not simply to provide employment. That’s it…however harsh it may sound.

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Pic: Burning Train after the Agnipath Protest

Flaws Highlighted by the Protests

Now, despite how much one can be in support of this scheme, there is no doubt that a serious problem pertaining to our country has been highlighted, and rigorously so. The issue is UNEMPLOYMENT. The reason so many people protested so aggressively, was the dire unemployment situation in the country. Despite lakhs of government posts being, vacant, postings are not being made. Lakhs of degree holders apply for a few clerical jobs. Even if exams happen, the paper gets leaked, or results get stalled, or posting gets halted. Is this how a ‘Civilized’ country should function. Just a few days back, our unemployment reached the Pre-COVID levels, but the pre-COVID numbers aren’t in decent shape either, so the situation continues to be tense. The protests might have been against Agneepth Scheme, but the main fuel in the fire was our Unemployment.

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A Word for the Protestors

Last but not the least, the protestors who are protesting against this scheme. I believe not all, but a major section of them have done a great disservice to the very job they aspire to work for. Yes, anyone is free to form their opinions, disagree on any issue, and protest against anything. But, all of this should be done in a constitutional way. No one absolutely no one has got the right to vandalise public properties, burn and loot trains and create anarchy in the country. So many people suffered due to the cancelled trains, that 3 lakh rupees were looted in Bihar. What is all this? Definitely, those doing such things don’t DESERVE to be in the security forces. To all the GENUINE protestors, I would only say that whatever be your reservations, kindly express them in a constitutional manner. And…national security should not be flocked with the responsibility of employment generation.

What Is Agnipath Recruitment Scheme? [EXPLAINED]

Pic: Agnipath Recruitment 2022

The AGNEEPATH Idea has a lot of Fire in the Belly

One thing I would say here, irrespective of what my personal ideology is. The Modi Government is the BRAVEST and the most Reform-Oriented government the country has witnessed in a long long time. Whether it is the CDS post, Digitization, the NEP, the GST (though implementation is still being worked on), or the Farm Laws that had to be taken back eventually (at least they tried). This also shows how BJP tweaked their politics from simply HINDUTVA by adding some progressive and futuristic elements, which is also bearing the fruits for them.

Also, this time the Modi Government learnt from the Farm Laws Episode. It didn’t allow much room or time for those opposing it to put much pressure on the government. Though they brought several provisions for those retiring as Agniveers. This time, it announced the new recruitment under the new scheme within a week. So, the government was absolutely firm and clear this time regarding the implementation. Also, it sent the three military chiefs in front of the press to shift the whole emotional opinion of the country towards the government and not the protestors. The announcement of those protesting won’t be recruited and aspirants will have to file a ‘Not Protested’ declaration, was enough to build pressure and shift the discourse. Now, how good that is morally or ethically, you decide, but politically it was a very SMART move.

Now, I just mentioned that it would have been better if a Pilot had been done before. But now it’s a huge reform for the country, that too in a sector as important as the security forces. One thing that the Russia-Ukraine episode has taught us is that we don’t need a huge military, but we need a smart one. If the recruitment is being shortened and the focus is shifting towards modernising the forces, then we are heading in a very good direction. At last, I am very optimistic about this whole Agneepath Idea and I extend my best wishes to the government regarding its implementation.


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