Hyderabad: Several cities across at least nine States are witnessing violent protests by youngsters, allegedly defence job aspirants, against the union government’s latest scheme, Agnipath, which promises four-year basic jobs in the armed forces to youngsters who pass an all India online exam. The scheme also promises a tax-free amount of Rs.11.7 lakh when they […]
Hyderabad: Several cities across at least nine States are witnessing violent protests by youngsters, allegedly defence job aspirants, against the union government’s latest scheme, Agnipath, which promises four-year basic jobs in the armed forces to youngsters who pass an all India online exam. The scheme also promises a tax-free amount of Rs.11.7 lakh when they complete the four-year tenure and certification as Agniveers.
However, the scheme hasn’t gone down well with youngsters, who have aired their concerns and taken to the streets over the last three days, with the protest in Hyderabad on Friday seeing the Railway Police resorting to firing, in the process killing one youngster and injuring about 12 others.
What the protesters say:
• A reported two-year freeze on army recruitment for two years, forced by the Covid-19 pandemic, is said to be one of the main reasons.
• Many who had trained for several years and were waiting for the written test after the physical tests during recruitment rallies last year are saying they have been left in the lurch.
• Many of them are now over-aged for the Agnipath scheme, despite the one-time age criteria relaxation announced last night.
• Many others are upset that their dreams of a long career in the armed forces might not be possible now. And the scheme is only for below officer ranks.
• That is not all. The Agniveers will not get pension after four years, and though the union government says they will be given priority in recruitments to the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) and State police forces, the youth are not convinced, as the protests show.
There are other allegations over the scheme as well.
• These include doubts whether former armed forces officers were consulted while preparing the scheme.
• There are also fears whether Agnipath will harm the effectiveness of the Armed Forces.
• Another major fear is that the future of Agniveers is insecure.
The union government’s Press Information Bureau, in an attempt to clear the air, has released ‘Myth vs Fact’ posters on social media, in which the government claims extensive consultations with serving armed forces officers were held for two years; that many former officers have recognized the advantages of the scheme; and that the proposal has been framed by the Department of Military Officers staffed by military officers.
On the scheme ‘harming’ the effectiveness of the forces, it said the method was already prevalent in most countries and considered a best practice for a youthful and agile army. Additionally, Agniveers will be tested before re-induction in the army after four years, with the army thus to get tested personnel for supervisory ranks. As for their future, apart from priority in CAPFs and State police, they would get a 12-class equivalent and bridging course, PIB said, and that entrepreneurs would get a financial package and bank loan scheme.