Agnipath: A trial by fire
Judging by the chaos across the country which is not ignited by any political party but which is fuelled by a hare-brained scheme called Agnipath, India is set to see a mental combat between those with a genuine desire to serve in the defence forces and those that will get into the services as an employment avenue. As per the scheme, Agnipath will induct 45,000-50,000 youth annually who have passed Class 12, into the three defence services but the rider is that they will only serve for four years after which only 25 % of those who are found to be fit for the services will be formally inducted to serve for 15 years. In terms of cost benefit analysis this does not add up. A lot will be spent by the Ministry of Defence in training these dreamy-eyed youth many of whom may ultimately be found unfit because they are not entering a service they would have chosen with their eyes open, but are enticed into an employment avenue that pay them salaries for four years. After that what? The Government has not promised to look after the welfare of those 75% youth that are found unfit for permanent commission into the defence services.
The Defence Services require a special mental and physical make-up and sometimes even with the right kind of aptitude and attitude there are many who cannot take the stress and strain of training in harsh conditions and drop out. The Defence Forces have always applied the most stringent recruitment rules especially at the officer’s level. The National Defence Academy is a tough place to graduate from. Hence the bar as we all understand has been raised very high for anyone to enter one of the three services. But Agnipath will allow a youth who has passed Class 12 and is still unsure of his future and his aptitude to join a service that requires extreme dedication and commitment. But more than that is the question of the youth’s future after he completes his four- year tenure and is not found fit for permanent commission. At 21 plus years with no degree or qualification how does the youth look for another job? As some blunderbuss has rightly remarked, those that are rejected after the four year tenure can find a job as a security personnel. This ingenuous and distasteful piece of advice shows just how insensitive some in the BJP can be. It is clear to everyone that Agnipath is an election gimmick and those that don’t qualify to become Agniveers will be staring at a bleak future.