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The Congress Party denounced the newly launched Agnipath scheme, calling it autocratic and incredibly unfair to the youth of this country. At a press conference, the party spokesperson urged the government to spare a thought for the future of the youth and to scrap the scheme immediately.

In fact, there are many extremely disturbing questions thrown up by this policy that beg to be answered. It appears that once again the Modi-led BJP government is using short-sighted solutions in its knee-jerk endeavor to douse the fires lit by its previous incompetence. All this of course conveniently aimed at simultaneously garnering support for the general elections scheduled in 2024.

By now it is quite clear that the Agnipath policy of recruiting/retrenching youth for a fleeting period of 4 years in the armed forces is a scheme with an underlying agenda. If as the Central government implies, the policy was meant to overcome any shortage of personnel, why then was the recruitment stopped for two years? Was it to create an artificial shortage of personnel that would provide justification for introducing the short-sighted Agnipath policy in view of elections in 2024? The people of India, including the targeted youth, have all realized that recruiting at the age of 17 will amount to putting an abrupt full stop to their educational growth. This cruel policy is further designed to release them at 21 years old – the prime of their youth, leaving them helpless and unqualified to find their way in making their mark in the modern world. With no educational background beyond 11th or 12th, nor any vertical specialization or any training or experience that will outfit them for gainful employment they will find themselves cut adrift in a fast-moving world without the wherewithal or qualifications to make a decent living. Nor will they have the comfort of social security, pension and gratuity. With no assured job opportunities and stable future in sight after completing their brief stint of 4 years in the armed forces, the levels of frustration will undoubtedly spike. Their desperation will probably make them ripe fodder for anti-social elements to prey upon.

The armed forces have always been a much-honored, respected and revered institution that showcases the fine qualities of loyalty and patriotism in our nation. In fact, as many can attest to, joining the armed forces is a vocation and not a mere profession. The Agnipath scheme as conceptualized by the BJP government will certainly put an end to this. How can an absolutely indispensable institution like the nation’s armed forces be tampered with in this manner? Soldiers who serve the nation with their hearts, souls and very often their lives do not deserve this “USE AND THROW” policy. The government must realize that the Indian nation does not operate on a HIRE & FIRE policy like that of its capitalist friends. This is the Indian Armed Forces, an institution that has been held sacred by every right-thinking, patriotic and loyal citizen of the country. Soldiers cannot be permitted to descend to being ‘daily wage laborers.

Little wonder then that experts and politicians cutting across the political spectrum have denounced the policy in no uncertain terms as one that will neither help the youth in getting permanent jobs nor the armed forces in getting a fighting fit force, as the policy aims at giving only an inadequate 6 months training and using them for the defense services with no vertical specialization in tow. Today with the modernization of the armed forces and induction of modern and sophisticated weapons and equipment, there is a severe shortage of personnel equipped and trained to man and operate these technically advanced weapons and equipment which warrant advanced training, sometimes in foreign countries. Thereafter, the experience gained over the years is passed on to the next generation of officers and personnel.

It would be interesting to see how many BJP MPs and MLAs will be sending their children as Agniveer recruits. In fact, how many BJP leaders have children serving in the Armed Forces at all? It is shocking that a so-called ‘patriotic’ party is instrumental in foisting disruptive policies on the nation that are destroying the lives and livelihood of our people since 2014. And now the latest target to be used in their political games is the nation’s armed forces that have always remained sacrosanct in the past. It appears that there is one set of laws for BJP leaders and their families and another for the ordinary citizens of this country. Different strokes for different folks can be seen from the fact that Amit Shah’s son Jay Shah went all the way to the Supreme Court to extend his tenure as Secretary of BCCI. Our youth, on the contrary, are being forced to come on the streets to fight for their rights to enjoy fair employment benefits. Has the BJP government forgotten that they are supposed to serve the people?

It’s high time that the Modi-led BJPgovernment desists from imposing the Gujarat model of fooling the people by announcing goodies and sops prior to the election just like the 15 lakhs gift in 2014, black money, 50,000 jobs, doubling the income of farmers, etc.

The prestige and credibility of practically every national institution have been eroded and breached since 2014. Now, the Congress party appeals to the government in the national interest, to desist from destroying the last bastion – our armed forces. Such short-sighted policies will have far-reaching consequences that will hamper the defense preparedness and growth of our defense forces. We as a nation will pay dearly for these shortsighted, shallow and destructive policies being imposed by this government.

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