Agnipath Warriors

Launched by the BJP government with much fanfare and flourish, the Agnipath Scheme is turning out to be a controversial move from day one.

By Reema Shaukat | August 2022

The Modi regime tries to gain popularity with changes and laws in the name of transition. It has already faced criticism for Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Register of Citizens (NRC), 3 Farm Laws for farmers and many other disagreeable reforms. Lately, a new scheme, “Agnipath” is under debate and is facing violent protests nationwide. Agni means fire and Path means way. The new plan introduced by Modi will induct Indian has nationals aged 17.5 years to 21 years. The inductees under this scheme will be called “Agniveers,” (fire breeding warriors). The scheme under the overall concept of Tenure of Duty (TOD) suggests that successful candidates, or the Agniveers, will join the armed forces for a period of four years, after which only 25% will be retained. With a mere six months of training, they will be sent to augment the regular armed forces.

Considering the high unemployment rate and global economic crises after the Covid-19 pandemic, Modi’s ploy should have received some appreciation but surprisingly as the facts of the plan are exposed, Indian youth have begun agitate. There are protests against the scheme for the fact that 75% of the youth sent back to their homes after four years of service will be jobless. They will have spent four important years of their lives serving the armed forces. This will not only deprive them of the opportunity to continue their studies but also the post-retirement privileges that any regular troop is eligible for. They want regular induction against which they may receive perks and privileges to sustain themselves. But this is not the only flaw in the scheme. Its dark side is quite vivid.

Technically viewed, the quality of manpower with short-term training is also going to be questionable. Will the troops, so hastily trained, be reliable for a hefty job involving expected conflicts with the professional armed forces of countries like China and Pakistan? This is especially worth pondering in case of the navy and air force, which are technical quite.

Soldiers are conditioned to fight wars and their motivational level is specifically and constantly worked on. One wonders what the motivational level of troops will be who know they are inducted for four years only and shall have to ultimately leave. With this scheme, they are inherently deterred from performing their jobs as per requirement. Will they be ready to sacrifice their lives to defend their country? The overall morale and motivational level of Indian armed forces is certainly going to be adversely affected. Also, these agniveers, with low motivational level, will constrain regular troops to also look after these tasks. They may, therefore, be a drag on the resources and performance of the Indian armed forces. With the chances of only a quarter to stay put in the armed forces, there will be fierce competition amongst the candidates. They are likely to resort to various unethical ways and means to secure slots at any cost. More so, there will be polarisation in the forces as there will be two streams of induction. Agniveers will be looked down upon by their regular entry peers and in fact will never be acceptable to the fraternity. This will certainly cause dejection amongst agniveers at some stage.

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