Despite the violent protest by the youth, the government’s stand is firm on the roll out of the Agnipath Scheme.
There are two types of masterstrokes: Bad idea, bad execution (ex. Demonetisation) and good idea, poor execution (ex. GST). What type of masterstroke is this Agnipath scheme? How will this scheme influence our forces?
The only masterstroke that worked is surgical strike on Pakistan, courtesy execution by our brave armed forces. What will be the re-employment of Agniveers? After widespread protest, some measures have been notified. It is clear that that was not thought of earlier. 8 things need to be pondered upon. Let’s discuss them briefly.
These are the eight unanswered questions, that we still have no clue on.
- THE SOCIAL ANGLE
There is a social angle to the protests that were going on. As bureaucrats and politicians’ children do not join the army, they are generally the kids of the poor farmers. One can say that it is out of patriotism, they work so hard day and night. They struggle diligently to chase that dream.
Security and respect are another part of the job in the armed forces. Importance of Uniform is realized only by them. Now, the government is saying that this job may only be as long as 4 years. Hence, even more competition than before. Can this ever be the case for the IAS/IPS jobs? It would be disheartening for the soldiers to be released from their duties once their time is over.
- IS IT A JUMLA OF JOBS?
Secondly, even if there is no problem of lost respect, what about further opportunities? What about the remaining highly trained 75% Agniveers? Government, thus, plans to recruit them in CAPF. Whereas, home ministry has maintained for years that the terms and type of service in CAPF is different from that in the Army. So, the two forces are of different backgrounds in training and administration. Will this solve the problem? Only time will tell. The government, as of now, is trying to portray that opportunities are limitless, even if 75% is released from duty.
Besides, the entry into corporate sector is possible, as Anand Mahindra suggested. He said, “Large potential for employment of Agniveers in the Corporate Sector. With leadership, teamwork & physical training, Agniveers provide market-ready professional solutions to industry, covering the full spectrum from operations to administration & supply chain management.” I don’t quite understand this!
Does he believe that the Agniveers will provide technical, administrative and management solutions in the corporate sector? Is there no need of MBA or BTech for anyone to work in it?
Anand Mahindra was asked: Has his esteemed Group been able to give jobs to thousands of highly retired ex-servicemen so far? He is yet to reply to that question. Fact is, highly trained ex-servicemen (with experience of 30-35 years) do not get job in the market that easily.
One example of it is – Survey of Department of Defence & National Security Studies, Punjab University revealed that 80-90 ex-servicemen of Gurdaspur were recruited in the Sainik board – 1500-1600 applied.
Are there enough jobs for thousands of Agniveers? The narrative is being built that there will be… What would these highly trained educated and unemployed do if they don’t get any job? Will it be a law and order issue?
- WHAT DOES ARMY GET OUT OF IT?
Army will train the 17-year olds the basics of everything – parade, exercise, weaponry, teamwork, military hardware etc. Four years is not a long time to achieve these. By the time they are ready, their tenure will be over. Only 25% will continue in the army. It is a drain of energy and money. Did the makers of this scheme not realize that? Army veterans say that it takes at least 8 years to properly handle complex machinery. So, it will take much effort and funds to train the Youth.
Besides, the Army has limited budget. In the beginning of last decade, this was 2.8% of GDP, and 2.1% of GDP just before the pandemic. After the Galwan incident, this was increased again.
- IS PENSION AN EXCUSE?
It has been pointed out that pensions form large part of defence budget. The scheme will lessen burden of pension. As far as expenditure is concerned, what about the Group-A services and civilian defence employees?
The services of Group ‘A’ & Civilian-Defence employees are –
- Faster promotions & NFU Allowance
- Full Service tenure
- 45% of pension spending goes to civilian-defence employees.
- 5 times more expensive than their uniformed counterpart
Never heard of pension issues with the bureaucracy and political class, then why is this the case only with the Agniveers?
- NO PLOT RESEARCH DONE
As there was no pilot project, the scheme is being implemented much too quickly. No parliamentary committee meetings, expert opinions – direct announcements. Is this Raw Wisdom at work?
Major General G.D. Bakshi has spoken on the scheme, said, “Was flabbergasted by the Agniveer scheme. I thought initially it was a trial being done on the pilot basis. This is an across the board change to convert Indian armed forces to a short tenure quasi-conscript force like the Chinese. For God’s sake, PLEASE DON’T do it.”
Government tried to clarify that this scheme is a small part, and that the normal recruitments will too continue. But that is not so, this scheme will be the sole medium of recruitment. This decision is like demonetisation and GST – done in haste. Its future is uncertain, so tweaks are required.
What changes will be needed in the Agniveer scheme? The way the contractual teachers and hospital staff demand permanent jobs after 4-5 years, they might also do so. Agitation that we witnessed in the last few days may transpire again.
- HOW MUCH MONEY WILL BE SAVED?
How much money will be saved? There is no answer to it yet. It is said that the scheme will streamline budget. No studies related to that is out yet. There is no doubt that pension payment is a big part of budget, but will Agnipath Scheme help?
Rajnath Singh is saying, “Savings is not their viewpoint, we’re ready to put more money.” Then why is this scheme announced? If pensions are to be reduced at all, then why not reduce of the MPs and MLAs!
- THE PROBLEM OF 4 YEARS
Why is it only 4 years? It is a short tenure to motivate someone, train them and reap benefits later; training and indoctrination will take at least half that time. The aspirants will be under a lot of physical and mental pressure. How much will armed forces benefit, it is yet to be seen.
Military experts suggest extending 4-year period to make it more worthwhile for everyone. CDS Bipin Rawat wanted longer tenure for generals. And it is possible too to serve longer. We are being told that this scheme will make army young.
- ALL-INDIA-ALL-CLASS (AIAC) REGIMENTS
Battlefield is ever changing. The recruitments in this Agnipath Scheme will be from across the country – every class, creed, race etc. What about old regiments like Gorkha regiment? This has been a long tradition. Military personnel say that this regiment system is vital. It strengthens the army immensely.
NSA Ajit Doval assured that the regiment system won’t end. Ultimately, it must be addressed concretely as more Agniveers are recruited.
- VRS to reduce Army size – Solutions include VRS to reduce army size, not forceful exit. If they wish to do other job or business, they should also get a package. Technological dependence will gradually increase; size should be limited.
- Dynamic Engagement Period – Secondly, the scheme should be made dynamic. It should be flexible for our soldiers.
- Proficient Recruitment Board – Gradual retirement will work by establishing a proficient recruitment board. Many claim they will hire Agniveers, but it should be ensured by the system.
So, there are many ways to improve. Consultation and taking everyone in perspective is important.
Currently, it is being imposed, like GST, and declared a masterstroke.
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