Two days after the announcement of the New ‘gnipath Scheme by the Indian government, the Defence Minister has sparked a few street protests across the nation. The scheme announced by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is about recruitment in the three defence services of the country. However, the announcement of this new agnipath scheme has sparked outrage and protests by job aspirants across various states of the country. There is concern about job security, pension, and future job prospects.
Why are the people protesting?
The issue of job security and pension has been the main reason for the protest. In the new scheme, 25% of the total candidates will be given a full-time opportunity to serve in the defence services and the rest 75% will have to exit after the 4 years term.
Before this, the selected candidates in the army could serve for 17 hours more for some specific positions. After this service, the troops or personnel used to get a lifetime pension.
Although, it is a scheme that will provide more job opportunities the job aspirants are agitated more due to the two-year freeze on new recruitment in the army given the pandemic. This scheme will begin in 90 days and there is an upper age limit of 21 years. For this reason, many students who have missed the opportunity to join the army in the last 2 years and become overage want age relaxation.
There are multiple apprehensions among the youth related to the agnipath scheme about how will the recruitment shape up. At present, their army units are based on caste, region, or class.
Where are the protests taking place?
The protests took place in the Muzaffarpur in Bihar. Also, in Buxar and parts of Maharashtra, Jammu, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, and Bihar. The protests become severe in Bihar as the protesters blocked the rails and damaged Railway property. Some even went ahead and burned the tyres on the road. Moreover, even BJP MLA Aruna Devi’s vehicle was attacked, but she escaped without any injury. In a few places, the police had to do a lathi charge for displacing the mob.
The Agnipath Scheme:
The Agnipath scheme by the Defense Ministry will involve the recruitment of 45,000 to 50,000 soldiers for the three defence services every year. But, these soldiers will leave after 4 years of service. It is a short-term, recruitment for the Military and 25% of them will be chosen for full-time work. But, they will hold pontoons below the rank level.
It is not an optional scheme and all the hiring for posts below rank level will be done by this path. The aspirants between the age limit of 17.5 to 20 will be eligible to be a part of it. From the government’s perspective, it will help to get the services of youth and cut down the pension costs.
The criticism by the Opposition
The Opposition has been quick to call out the government amid the ongoing protests in the country. Moreover, they have demanded to scrap the scheme and even called it ‘unfair’, ‘negligent’ and ‘fatal’.
I do empathise with youth who have concerns over Agnipath recruitment Process.Reality is India needs a younger armed force with lighter human footprint savvy on technology, equipped with state of art weaponry. Armed forces of Union shouldn’t be an employment guarantee programme
— Manish Tewari (@ManishTewari) June 16, 2022
There is a criticism of the agnipath scheme that it will decrease the effectiveness of the Indian Army and the unstable future for the army aspirants. But, some sources claimed that it has been implemented and has been successful in other nations. Also, they have asked the government to bring up the scheme in the Parliament for discussion. It will be important to see if the government considers the opposition to the scheme and makes some modifications or stays firm on its decision.