Agniveer Scheme : What Does Its Withdrawal Mean? – Indian PSU

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Perhaps, it is the first time in the political career of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his politics at the centre, that the Bhartiya Janata Party is treading in unknown waters. Its much touted Agniveer Scheme is under dark clouds, especially after its Kingmaker ally, the JDU, calling for a rethink on the scheme even before the swearing in of Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister of India for the third consecutive time.

The Agnipath scheme was approved by the Indian Government in June 2022 to be implemented from September 2022. The announcement was done on 14 June 2022. The scheme is for both male and female aspirants of age group 17.5 to 21 years. In the midst of widespread protests against the scheme, the Central Government raised the upper limit from 21 to 23, but only for recruitment in the year 2022. The recruitment through this scheme is to be twice a year for the Indian Army, the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force.

The scheme met immediate opposition from AITUC, the Mother Trade Unions of India, following the same reaction from the BMS & the INTUC. Agniveer Scheme was also opposed by All India Defence Employees Federation (AIDEF).

All these trade unions, at that time, had urged the BJP-led Central Government to withdraw the Agnipath Scheme but the government went ahead with it.

Now, one of the kingmaker, The Janata Dal (United), led by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, has called for adjustments in the Agniveer scheme following concerns raised by voters.

Key Points

Concerns Over Agniveer Scheme:

  • The JD(U) highlighted that a segment of voters is dissatisfied with the Agniveer scheme.
  • The party believes these concerns may have impacted the 2024 Lok Sabha election results.

Call for Adjustments:

  • JD(U) urges for a detailed discussion to address and rectify the shortcomings of the Agniveer scheme.
  • The party is advocating for changes based on the feedback and issues raised by the public.

Meeting in National Capital:

  • A deliberative meeting took place at Nitish Kumar’s residence, underscoring the importance the party places on this issue.
  • Post-meeting, spokesperson KC Tyagi communicated the party’s position to the media.

Implications

  • Political Repercussions: The JD(U)’s stance highlights a significant political issue that could influence voter sentiment and election outcomes.
  • Policy Revisions: If the concerns raised gain traction, it might lead to policy revisions or additional measures to address public grievances regarding the Agniveer scheme.
  • The JD(U)’s proactive approach indicates a responsiveness to voter feedback and an attempt to address potential policy flaws in a high-stakes electoral context.

www.indianpsu.com spoke to C. Srikumar, General Secretary of AIDEF in this regard since AIDEF has opposed such type of contractual appointment in the Armed forces.

C. Srikumar responded that when the Modi – 02 Government announced the Agnipath scheme violent protest spread all over the Country including in Bihar by the unemployed youth of the Country who were undergoing training for their permanent recruitment in the Armed forces. The Agnipath scheme is called as a “Tour of Duty” in the Armed forces. Young Boys and Girls aged between 17 ½ to 21 years will be eligible to apply for this 04 years contractual appointment in the Armed forces. 75% of them will be thrown out after completion of 04 years. They will not be eligible for pension or any other benefits. It is not only AIDEF, but many senior retired Army officers have opposed this scheme. The reason for which the Government has stopped recruitment of permanent soldiers is to avoid payment of pension, since in the Armed forces the New Pension Scheme is not implemented. In the name of saving money and to ultimately Privatize the National Assets of 41 Ordnance Factories, to introduce Contractual appointment in the Armed forces no Government should destroy what we have already established over a period of time.

He added that in one of the meeting with the Defence Minister Rajnath Singh Ji, in which my self and our President S N Pathak categorically told the Minister that the Apprentices who are coming to the Ordnance Factories as trainees are from socially and economically downtrodden communities and they should be ensured job after their training. Similarly, those who have coming for recruitment at the lower level in the armed forces as soldiers are also not from rich and elite backgrounds, they are also coming from the same socially and economically downtrodden communities. In the name of Agnipath and Agniveer their opportunities to get a permanent job in the Armed forces and to serve the Nation should not be taken away. He only replied that it is a policy decision of the Government.

Experiments and adventures should not be with Armed forces and Government-owned Defence Industries. After 04 years of training almost 40,000 of the Agniveers will be thrown out from the Armed forces and they all will become disgruntled youngsters and it may also lead to militarisation of the society. The so called “Tour of Duty” in the Armed forces is not at all in the interest of the Nation and the Armed forces. Many retired Army officers have stated that it will degrade the Army’s ability to win wars, the decision makers have not fought a war to know what it means to exercise control and command when the bullets are flying are when you have to assault a well prepared position. We are still of the firm opinion that the Corporatization of Ordnance Factories is a failure and misadventure which we have already communicated to the Defence Minister. The demand of withdrawing Corporatization of Ordnance Factories and Agniveer are fully justified. In the name of saving some money, the nation cannot compromise its security. The assurance of the Previous Government that Agniveer will have employment prospects after their contract is only a mith. The Government has completely stopped recruitment in all the departments and Para Military Forces. Even the 10% reservation for the ex-serviceman who have served full terms in the Armed forces are also struggling to find job and majority are working with Private Security Agencies in the apartments, supermarkets, shopping malls and private hospitals etc., for a paltry amount for more than 12 hours a day. Therefore, it is fully justified that the Agnipath scheme needs to be withdrawn and permanent recruitment should start in the Armed forces. If the New Government has the Wisdom to understand the verdict of the people then they should review and withdraw all such decisions like Agnipath, Corporatization of Ordnance Factories etc., in the interest of national security and defence preparedness of our country, concluded C Srikumar.

In the first intake, the Army inducted 40,000 Agniveers in two batches. The Navy recruited around 3,000 Agniveers and the Air Force around 2,700 in the first cycle. And now, if the scheme is scrapped, what happens to the personnel who have been already recruited in the Indian Army, Navy and the Air Force ? Where do they stand ?



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