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The Centre’s Agnipath Scheme- A right step in the right direction

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G Indira
G Indira
Author of the book: The India I Know and of Hinduism. Ex-Publications in -charge Pragna Bharati Organisation, Hyderabad. Academician and free-lancer

The central government every year conducts armed forces recruitment of fifty thousand odd youngsters (for the army, navy and air force). From this year onwards that recruitment system has changed. Of course, the testing and fitness system remained the same. However, the tenure after recruitment has been shortened. This changed system is known as Agnipath scheme. The latest scheme is introduced by the Govt. at the Centre from this year onwards after thorough all-round discussions.

According to this scheme, there will be a recruitment of forty-six thousand youngsters this year, that is, the first-year of the scheme. However, the entrants in earlier scheme were certain of their job, whereas in the present-scheme, it is only for four-years. In these four-years they are given training and work culture. They are taken at a young age of 17.5 to 21 years. The selected and trained youth are called Agniveers. Some, may be twenty-five percent of thus trained— according to their merit, are retained in defense forces.

The others needed to go to pursue outside either— study in universities or by other means of resettlement, as they get a terminal package. The Home ministry announced for those agniveers who completed four years of training to be recruited into Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) and Assam Rifles. Hence, the scheme has rehabilitation programme attached.  

What the naysayers say: There are many army – veterans that are cynical of this scheme. These veterans would resist any change to their system. This happens because they got accustomed to a system and have an established belief that, that is the correct one. They fight tooth and nail to any change without giving credence to merits. The veterans say in the old-system, the training was intense and it took years to learn physical and technological skills. Loyalty, discipline and comradeship would come to soldiers for working over a period. This scheme is tour of duty for soldiers on temporary basis. These young recruits would be left in lurch after four-years.

Already the Ex-service men who have worked for more than fifteen years are not getting jobs outside. How can these Agniveers get? Four-years of life becomes a wasted effort once the come out. To work in armed forces is, in itself, a dedicated life-time mission. This Agnipath scheme is only to down-size armed forces and to curb the ballooning pensions after retirement.

Those that say oyez (listen):  The supporters of the Agnipath scheme say, the days of slow-pace technological training to the young minds is gone. Now, it is easier to train in a short period. After the training for four-years, these Agniveers could lead a meaningful life outside. Agniveers get terminal benefit of more than 11 lakhs with which they could start some small-scale enterprise etc. They could also benefit the society through their technological skills and advancement. Being young they could fight for the country if need be.

In many cases, even during Kargil war, youngsters that have not had two, three years of training fought well for the country. Retirement benefits and pension are not the cause for concern of this scheme. Agniveers are going to get forty-thousand per month, whereas regular soldiers are getting paltry twenty-one thousand at present , as salary. It is not downsizing the armed forces, it is right-sizing. In all countries armed-forces are drastically reduced, because war-fares nowadays are fought with more sophisticated technologies. Those are some of the arguments supporting Agniveers.

On the whole: Agnipath Scheme is a work-in-progress i.e. as the scheme progresses it will be monitored and decisions will accordingly be taken. National Pension System (NPS) maybe added, like how it is done in the case of civilians (that do the service in government). Agniveers will become the trained and disciplined soldiers of the country. Agniveers services in society will be of immense value. The agitations going-on in Bihar against Agniveers should be stopped by educating the agitating youngsters on how good it (Agnipath-scheme) is for them and the country.  

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G Indira
G Indira
Author of the book: The India I Know and of Hinduism. Ex-Publications in -charge Pragna Bharati Organisation, Hyderabad. Academician and free-lancer
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