GOVERNMENT’S AGNI PAREEKSHA ON THE AGNIPATH SCHEME

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The manner in which protests have erupted in various parts of the country following the announcement of the controversial Agnipath Scheme by the Centre, for recruiting soldiers, it is obvious that there are apprehensions that exist in the minds of the youth. Secondly, there also seems to be failure at some quarter to effectively communicate the salient points of the proposal, sought to be implemented in a tearing hurry. A large number of Armed Forces veterans have also expressed their reservations over the issue and feel that more needs to be done in order to satisfy the aspirations of the younger generation. The main point of contention seems to be the length of service and denial of certain benefits which existed till now. The unfortunate aspect is that differences have evidently cropped up between the serving officers and those who have served in the armed forces with distinction in the past. This is not a good thing and unless things get ironed out, the debate would escalate with grave ramifications. If the government has faltered at some stage, there should be no hesitation in reviewing the matter. After all it is our armed forces that can be affected and we wish them to be the best in the world. There are grave concerns that the training period for the soldiers is very short and their tenure should be longer in order to help them integrate with their units fully as also to have certain kind of sense of social security. It is well known that most of the jawans that get recruited to the Army for instance come from rural backgrounds while the officers are mostly from the cities. These diverse backgrounds lead to difference of approach but thanks to the highest traditions and training which is there in the Army, the officers and men get integrated once they are a part of the unit. For a soldier, serving in any of the three wings of the Armed Forces is a rare honour and they are willing to lay down their lives for the country if such a situation exists. Therefore, it is the duty of the government to ensure that the well-being of the soldiers is never overlooked or compromised. Some veterans have suggested that the government must bring forward an act which guarantees employment to the soldiers in the para military forces or the state police organisations, in the event of this scheme being implemented. Secondly, there are others who believe that the model that exists in different foreign countries, does not necessarily apply to India which has a large population and totally different conditions. The protests signify resentment amongst the youth and should not be undermined in any way. True Opposition parties may try and exploit the situation, but in this case, there should be no politics since it is a matter of national security. There has to be separation so far as politics and national security goes since it impacts the interests of the country. The government must address the various concerns of the youth and if the need arises, should put the proposal on hold. There is no point in standing on prestige or ego. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has always extended his affection and respect for our soldiers and must intervene in the matter to get things sorted out. Our Armed Forces are amongst the best in the world and this reputation has to sustain itself.