‘Agnipath’ Issue : The path of fire !

Editorial

Unemployment aspects are frequently discussed in India. The political tradition of blaming the ruling party for this is nothing new. The BJP and other opposition parties did the same thing, and today, the Congress and other opposition parties are behaving in a similar manner. In other words, anti-social politics is practised so that the ruling party does not get the credit for whatever good is being done by the Central Government. As of now, this type of politics has taken root when Prime Minister Modi, who has a devout Hindu ideology, is at the Center.

In this type of politics, the original subject is kept aside and some other issue takes on a devious form. Through this, a large section of society is also misled. Many political parties had strongly opposed the BJP Government for implementing an important scheme for retired armed forces officers such as ‘One Rank One Pension’, which had been stalled for decades.

Challenges before national security

Today’s topic is also related to the armed forces. The Ministry of Defence has planned a recruitment scheme called ‘Agnipath’ for the youth. Under this scheme, youth in the age group of 17 and a half to 21 years will be able to join the armed forces. They will be called ‘Agniveers’; 75% of them will be removed after 4 years. These 75% youth will be given Rs 10 to 12 lakh later; however, there will be no pension for them.
Many say that this scheme will create a kind of discipline in the youth. “Unemployment in India has risen sharply in the last eight years when compared with 2014, when the present Government came to power,” the Congress Spokespersons come out with such allegations very often. How true are such allegations ? This is a matter of study and research.

However, ‘Agnipath’ will certainly provide employment to the youth. Although there are positive aspects to this scheme, some question marks are also being raised over it. According to Major General (Retd) AK Siwach, before the Government could open the scheme directly for all, it was necessary to first study the benefits and disadvantages of the scheme through a pilot project.

Major General (Retd) Dr GD Bakshi has made some important observations in this regard. In various tweets, he said that a radical shift in the armed forces is suicidal when the country is under threat from China and Pakistan. Although the ‘Agnipath’ scheme will save Government money, it could lead to instability in the armed forces. Major General (Retd) Bakshi further said, “These young men, who serve in the armed forces for 4 years are likely to join terrorist organisations after they are removed. He also demanded that 3% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) be spent on the armed forces. The questions raised by Major General (Retd) Bakshi are erudite and fundamental. This is not to say that the Center has not studied the scheme or is one-sided; however, finding the right solution to these problems is essential for maintaining the country’s integrity. The Ministry of Defence should also provide clarification on the serious and potential issues disturbing such retired senior armed forces officers.

We do not need such ‘Agniveers’

The ‘Agnipath’ scheme, on the other hand, is being strongly opposed by the youth. On 16th June, in many places in Bihar such as Jehanabad, Nawada, Buxar, Bhabhua, Ara, Munger, Saharsa, Gaya, Sivan, the youth came together and indulged in violence. At some places and in some towns, buses were damaged and torched.

The BJP office in Nawada and a 3 trains in Chhapra were set on fire. There were adverse reactions in States such as Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. It is not a simple matter that simultaneous protests took place on the same day in so many places. Who is behind all this ? This must be found out.

However, the manner in which the protesting youth agitated is certainly reprehensible. It is natural to have difference of opinion. Opposing some aspect is a fundamental democratic right granted to every citizen, but there are ways to protest. We have the wrong presumption that the Government pays attention only when there is violence.

Today, strict action is being taken against those who take law and order into their own hands. In Uttar Pradesh, the Yogi Adityanath Government is bulldozing the illegal houses of rioting Muslims. Action should also be taken against these youth at such times. The protesting youth ask what will be the future of 75% of children who retire after 4 years ? They are ignorant about this aspect. The BJP-ruled States have clarified that such youth will be given priority in Government jobs.

Yogi Adityanath said, “Youth should not fall prey to misconceptions”. The Uttar Pradesh Government has said that the ‘Agniveers’ would be given seniority in the Police and other departments. The Center as well as other States need to reassure the youth.

Even then, offences should be registered against these violent youth and they should be prevented from becoming ‘Agniveers’. How would these youth, who are trying to harm the country’s property for selfish ends, become ‘Agniveers’ to serve the interests of the Nation ? Do they qualify for such a rank ? On the contrary, according to the fears expressed by Major General (Retd) Bakshi, who will guarantee that trained ‘Agniveers’ will not join terrorist or anti-national organisations after 4 years ?

‘Agniveers’ should be heroic sons of the country who will fight for the unity and integrity of the country, and not for despicable selfish ends !

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