Agnipath scheme: What has gone wrong?

The Modi govt should have expected these coming before they announced the scheme, given the desperation of the opposition parties

The Modi govt should have expected these coming before they announced the scheme, given the desperation of the opposition parties
The Modi govt should have expected these coming before they announced the scheme, given the desperation of the opposition parties

No reform can be all positive and no negative

We witness train burning, violent street protests, hooliganism, and vandalism against the newly announced Agnipath scheme for recruitment to the Indian Armed Forces.

Though the government has tried to reach out to the rioting students, in order to be politically correct, we are under no such compulsion. Surely, such protestors don’t deserve to be part of the Indian military services. Those who were part of the violent protests should be identified as far as possible and disqualified from any government appointments apart from punishing them strictly for their violence.

These foot soldiers of the violent protests should be used to identify the brains behind them, and they should be booked under stringent sections, so they (or anyone else) dare not resort to such means anymore.

In fact, laws should be amended to punish them more strictly than the laws allow at present. Approvers in such cases can be given lighter punishment, but with no recourse to government jobs ever.

And these ‘protests’ were obviously not spontaneous. The typical Indian is not this violent kind. In fact, they are not even protesting kind. Even during the Covid outbreak, when lakhs of people had to walk 100s of kilometers to their villages, they did so silently, cursing their fate.

Also, vested interests like defence recruitment coaching centres have literally added fuel to the fire. Those who were behind the protests should be blacklisted.

Political parties who find it difficult to defeat Modi electorally are the main sponsors of these violent protests. We saw similar protests against CAA, farm laws, Nupur Sharma, etc.

Opposition protests are a tool to provoke the Modi government to use force so that the opposition can then play the victim cards and try to turn the tables against the Modi government.

The Modi government should have expected these coming before they announced the scheme, given the desperation of the opposition parties.

Given the fact that there have been no recruitments at this level in the last 2 years and lakhs of youth have been preparing for these, it was insensitive of the government and the committee to have announced such a scheme, without taking into account the hardship of these students. Only a small percentage of the affected were part of the violent protests, and the silent majority were mere losers of this scheme. We should keep their interests in mind.

While the Services personnel may have conceived and finalized the Agnipath scheme, the political leadership should have seen this scheme far beyond the services, as a national capacity-building mission for the government, private sector, and entrepreneurship, and found the best ways to make the Agniveers productive, getting the best bang for the buck invested anyway.

The biggest mistake of political leadership is placing full trust in the bureaucracy. The government should have involved the states, various government departments, the private sector, etc in finding how best to use the trained Agniveers.

The many avenues the government is announcing in response to the protests could very easily have been built into the scheme itself. At least the government could have said they were working out the details of ways and means to absorb the 75% Agniveers who would be let go, in the other government departments like CISF, Police, private enterprises, etc, apart from affording entrepreneurial opportunities.

Sure enough, this is not an employment guarantee scheme, but the government should have thought through how to make the best use of such well-trained and disciplined talent, in the government and national interest. It costs a lot of time, money, effort, and plan to train youth as our defence forces do and it’s a national waste if the government doesn’t find ways to make the best use of them.

Though the government is shown in poor light when it acts after agitations, it’s good that it is exploring how best the scheme can be tweaked to make the Agnipath scheme more acceptable, at least now.

Under no circumstances should the government back down; it should push ahead, making concessions (that should have been part of the scheme anyway), and putting down the violence with a firm hand.

The government should learn at least now how to roll out in future, any path-breaking reforms which are bound to have some not-so-pleasant side effects. No reform can be all positive and no negative.

A small percentage of people who are opposed to reforms, for whatever reasons, mostly for selfish interests, are able to create the impression that the nation is up in arms against the reforms and the government. The government should find a way to make the people at large and the world see that the opposers are only a small minuscule majority, and expose them.

Quick and honest dipstick quantitative and qualitative surveys of representative samples, immediately after the announcement of the reforms followed by more rigorous periodic surveys can be conducted by organizations like the NSS to gauge the mood of the public, and the same should be made public without delay. The surveyed people should be fully educated about the programs before gathering their views.

Note:
1. Text in Blue points to additional data on the topic.
2. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.

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An Engineer-entrepreneur and Africa Business Consultant, Ganesan has many suggestions for the Government and sees the need for the Govt to tap the ideas of its people to perform to its potential.

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