Dr. Vedapratap Vaidik
The ongoing unbridled political debates have surely affected the sheen of the Agnipath scheme. It’ surprising, the political leaders who have been relentlessly attacking the government on the issue have not yet put forth any alternative thoughts to better the scheme. Instead, for scoring political points they have been instigating the gullible youths to vent their anger against the government in power. Pathetically the leaders from the ruling BJP are trying to counter the opposition charges by blindly justifying the recruitment scheme, Agnipath. It would have been appreciated if these leaders presented their suggestions and thoughts to make the scheme more splendid, rather than engaging in verbal combat to impress their political masters. These leaders, I should say, are failing in their duty to the public.
Interestingly, since the announcement of Agnipath both the government and the Armed forces have been declaring a variety of concessions to placate the agitating youths who are our future soldiers. The opposition parties are using these concessions as a tool to attack the government saying the scheme was introduced in haste without proper application of mind. Though the protest against Agnipath was spontaneous and sporadic, the political opponents of the ruling BJP are doing everything to keep the agitation going.
As I said, the protest erupted all of a sudden without any indication. But later the political parties initiated the agitation to promote their vested interests. They have started flooding the TV debates and miss no chance to attack the government and the ruling party. These leaders who are infuriating the agitating youths have nothing to do with the Scheme. Neither their children nor their relatives are interested or preparing to join the Armed Forces.
However, the frustration of the youth who have been eagerly waiting to join the Force is justifiable. Permanent source of income and a comfortable life is the dream of everyone. Here in the case of Agnipath the question is after retiring from the Army after four years of service what could be the future? Poor and less educated people from the rural area join the Army expecting a comfortable and secured life during the peace time. And on retirement they are sure to get a full pension and other facilities for the rest of life. Even the family is eligible for pension and other schemes.
But this traditional system is changing in all the major countries of the world, because there is more need of young people in the Force. Funds disbursed for pension schemes are much higher than the funds spent for arms procurement. Modernization of the Army is crucial.
These arguments of the government are understandable, but how good it would have been that instead of suddenly igniting the flames of Agneepath, it would have initiated a comprehensive debate on this issue in the Parliament and the media before launching the scheme.
The government has warned that those participating in the agitation will not be eligible for the Agnipath scheme. This warning could deter the protesters and possibly douse the agitation. But it would have been better that instead of announcing the hasty implementation of this plan, the military officers and those concerned could have held healthy and extensive discussions taking the media into confidence so that the public could have been convinced of the need of such an initiative. The hurried decision and rapid implementation has, to some degree, dampened the appeal of Agnipath.