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EditorialAgniveer- A good scheme misunderstood

Agniveer- A good scheme misunderstood


Agnipath, the government's initiative for the Indian military, is well-intentioned. Its goal is to reduce the cost of salaries and pensions. Pensions for the three services account for Rs 119,696 crore of the total military of Rs 525,166 crore for the current fiscal. The total revenue expenditure is Rs 233,000 crore, leaving capital expenditure of less than Rs 2 lakh crore. Because the public purse is already stretched due to the destruction wrought by COVID-19 and the ensuing lockdowns, the government will find it extremely difficult to appropriate more funds for capital spending.

This is not a very comfortable situation, given Pakistan's persistent hostility and China's escalating belligerence. In this context, the choice to minimise tax expenditure was admirable, but the technique used to develop and convey the policy was not. Only a few retired military personnel were trusted, implying that there were insufficient talks with other parties. General VK Singh (Retd), a former Army commander and Union Minister, was apparently not consulted for the project, which is strange. Certain districts and towns send a large number of jawans to the three services. For two years, there were no fresh recruits, prompting discontent among those who desired to be soldiers, sailors, or airmen.

The new programme was dubbed “transformative” by the government, but applicants in Bihar, Rajasthan, and regarded it as a cruel joke. They disrupted railway and road traffic in a number of areas across Bihar, with reports of train burning as well. Protests are also taking place in Haryana. Palwal's situation deteriorated to the point that Section 144 was imposed and mobile internet, SMS, and other services were suspended. The government amended the Agnipath plan in reaction to the first complaints, raising the minimum age for recruitment.

Agniveers would be given precedence in recruitment to the Central Armed Police Forces and Assam Rifles after their four-year tenure in the Army, Navy, or Air Force (Assam Rifles, though a paramilitary force, is officered by the Army).

All of this, though, appears to be too little, too late. The issue of unemployment is at the heart of the mass protests: there are very few available.

As a result, young people are eager to attain any government position because it gives job security and, at lower levels, significantly higher income. However, the military's principal mission is to protect the country, not to create jobs. One of the fundamental goals of government is to ensure citizens' material well-being. The inadequacies of the Central Government on this front lies at the basis of the opposition to the Agnipath programme.  Also, the central government after rolling out the Farm Laws was forced and arm twisted by the opposition to take them back only for lack of planning and gaining public trust. The government at centre thus should start test roll such policies while contemplating to roll them out.











The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.


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