Over the last eight years, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has pushed for reforms in various sectors, but the most prominent area which has received special attention from the Government has most certainly been the defence sector and national security. Be it the creation of the CDS post, based on the recommendation of the Kargil review committee, which was kept pending for many years and eventually scrapped by the UPA Government or the implementation of OROP, which the Congress failed to do for over four decades or the building of the National War Memorial, an emotional demand, which was five decades old but remained unfulfilled—all of these only saw the light of day during PM Modi’s tenure of eight years. Even the basic need for bulletproof jackets for our braves was kept hanging for years before the Modi Government pushed for its transparent and immediate procurement.
Formidable Fighting Force
In continuation of that, the scheme will entail the recruitment of soldiers, most of whom will serve for four years and the recruitment will begin from the age of 17.5 to 21 years, for all three services based on a centralised online system. This initiative will also help in bringing down the age profile of the Armed Forces by 4 to 5 years from approximately 32 years to about 26-27, thereby making the force younger, fitter, more tech-savvy and more modern. Currently, a bulk of our forces come from a few regions in the country and this initiative will help in creating a more diverse force, with the spirit of national unity, national integration and Desh Seva imbibed in them. Decades ago, almost 70-73 per cent of the Indian Army comprised sepoys but today that ratio has come down and that’s where Agnipath can ensure a steady stream of young recruits while striking an optimal balance between youth and experience, officers/ other ranks and sepoys.
In Sync With World-Class Armies
One argument being made by the naysayers is that this will fundamentally alter the Armed Forces. In the next four years, the number of recruitments to be made will be about 1.75 lakhs. The strength of the Army after 4-5 years will still be around 11-12 lakhs. How can Agniveers who will constitute about 10-12 per cent fundamentally alter the Forces? Also, short commissions of 2-8 years are prevalent in several countries with strong, world-class armies. This is nothing unusual or unique. Some people are now spreading fears that young soldiers who will exit the Forces will become a threat to society due to unemployment! That’s a dishonest and specious argument. Firstly, 25 per cent of each batch—after a rigorous and transparent selection process will be selected for the regular cadre directly. The rest can apply too and also have a shot at a range of other opportunities. For example: they can be preferred for various roles in paramilitary or police forces or Government services and various State Governments can extend even further opportunities to this well-trained, disciplined, motivated and skilled Human Resource which is being given back to society with a sense of commitment to Naam, Namak and Nishan. Moreover, let’s the Modi Government and the Indian Armed Forces have now made one of the most transformative and historic reforms—an initiative to create a lean, mean future-ready fighting force by the announcement of the Agnipath Scheme that has been cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Security and was announced by Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh assume someone joins as an Agniveer post 10th standard at age of 18 and exits by 22. When he exits, he has a 12th-standard certificate at the very least, a skill, some training and on top of all that he leaves with a Seva Nidhi of Rs 11.71 lakh in his account—how many 21/22-year-olds can boast of this? Most Government exams can be given till the age of 28 years so he/she has a good six years left for attempting those exams or can even start his own business or join the private sector! Also, if unemployment is the issue then can’t the same logic apply to many soldiers who leave the forces 30 years after the end of their service? Won’t they be a threat too?
Under PM Modi, Uri is responded to by a surgical strike, Pulwama is avenged with Balakote Airstrike—all of this has made our Armed forces stronger and more equipped to deal with challenges that we need to confront in the decades to come
In the last eight years, we have seen this Government take huge strides in several areas of defence and national security. Be it the corporatisation of ordinance factories and bringing them on the path of profit from loss-making units or whether it is the modernisation of weapons and equipment and pushing for the acquisition of Rafale jets or the manufacture of AK-103 Kalashnikov assault rifles in India, pushing for AatmaNirbharta in defence procurement, expanding the capital outlay by 19 per cent in 2021-22 budget, setting up defence corridor to enlarge our defence industry or the strategic shift in our approach to terrorism—from doing nothing after 26/11 to a zero-tolerance policy under PM Modi, where Uri is responded to by a surgical strike, Pulwama is avenged with Balakote Airstrike—all of this has made our Armed forces stronger and more equipped to deal with challenges that we need to confront in the decades to come.
Cong Undermining Morale of Soldiers
Unfortunately, some like the Congress party and their ilk choose to do ‘siyasat’ over Agnipath. Time and again it seems that their only agenda appears to be to undermine the “manobal” of our forces. We remember how proof was demanded for the surgical strike and the Balakote strike! How one Congress leader hugged Pakistan Army chief Bajwa and labelled our own Army Chief and our first CDS Swargiya Bipin Rawatji as a “Sadak Ka Gunda”. They even continue to advocate for our forces to be tried for mass rapes and killings and bat for the removal of the AFSPA law itself. These elements have little credibility when they once again try to create fissures on an issue like Agnipath.
Today, young people are inspired to serve their motherland and perhaps Agnipath is one of the greatest platforms for all of us to contribute to the task of serving Maa Bharti.