Dr. Vedapratap Vaidik
Violent protest has spread across the country against the Modi Government’s newly announced Agneepath scheme. This protest if from youths seeking employment and It is different from the farmers’ agitations or protest from the Muslim community. Those agitations were limited to certain sections of the society. But here in this ongoing protest is not on the basis of caste, religion, language or occupation. The protests are youths from all castes, religions, languages, regions and occupations.
It is surprising there is no designated leader for the agitation who the authorities can invite for a talk to calm the protestors. This agitation was spontaneous. Obviously, the root cause of this spontaneous protest is the misunderstanding of youths regarding the newly announced Agneepath scheme. They believe that if 75 percent of the recruited soldiers are discharged from service after 4 years, then they will be left in the lurch. Neither they will get any new job easily nor are they going to get pension and other benefits. I had shared this apprehension in my article the other day. This scare has led to the ongoing violent agitation.
Passenger trains are being torched, roads closed, arson and destruction of public property is being reported from various places. Agitating youths are arrested by the security forces and many have been injured in the conflicts. A young man committed suicide.
This protest could prove more critical compared to previous movements, because most of the agitators are youths whose relatives, friends or neighbors are already serving in our Armed Forces. The current agitation could have an emotional impact on those serving soldiers.
In order to calm the agitators, recruitment age limit of the Agneepath scheme has been marginally enhanced to 23 years from the current 17.5 year. This is a relief but it also has an after effect because it will be difficult to find any job for those are discharged from service at the age of 27, compared to those coming out at the young age of 21.
It is true that those 75 % who are discharged after four years of service in the Army will get about 12 lakh lump sum amount and they will also get priority in government jobs. But I feel, like this mistake, the Modi government has been committing regular blunders in the past eight years without break.
As soon as the government was formed in 2014, it promulgated a land acquisition ordinance, abruptly declared demonetisation, then enacted agricultural laws and goofed up on several occasions while dealing with neighbouring nations. According to me, overdependence on bureaucrats is the prime reason for such hasty erroneous decisions. The decision makers need to understand that India is a democracy and not any autocratic Sultanate where the ruler is cheered by saying ‘Ji Huzoor’.
Beware! India is a democracy and people are the masters.
*Dr. Vaidik is a widely travelled scholar-journalist. He has visited more than 80 countries on diplomatic and educational missions. Dr. Vaidik has won more than a dozen National and International awards for academic and journalistic excellence. He has been a member of several Advisory Committees of Government of India.