The Union Government of Bharat, under the leadership of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, unveiled a brand-new scheme of recruitment in the Bharatiya military around noon on June 14th 2022. According to the Raksha Mantri, this scheme would witness a total recruitment of 10 lakh military personnel across all the wings of the Bharatiya military.
According to Lt. Gen. Anil Puri, the first year would witness 46,000 recruits. This number would see a sharp rise to 90,000 years over a couple of years. This scheme has been named Agnipath as the term is a reassertion of the sense of discipline, duty and sacrifice that’s central to the ethos of the Bharatiya military – that the Bharatiya Army is not a regular “10 to 6” job but a calling. It’s service to Bharat Mata in various forms according to regimental discipline and tradition. It is noteworthy that most of Bharatiya Army’s regiments have Udghosh Vakya (war cries) that sometimes express allegiance to a Hindu Devi or Devata.
Agnipath is also a signification of the pavitra (pure) Agni (Fire) of the yagyakund in which the samidha (oblation) of yagya is offered to Agni Devata through whom the offerings reach Param Brahma. Delineating the metaphor, the symbolic samidha by the mechanism of the Agnipath scheme is that of the recruits and their discipline and commitment to Bharatvarsha. Consequently, partaking from the name of the scheme the military personnel hired are aptly named “Agniveer”. This gives them a common identity and an ideal to look up to. So, the imagery is imbued in the sacred, ancient Hindu traditions quintessential to Bharatvarsha.
Four Primary Objectives
Agnipath will see reduction in the burden of pensions on the defence budget, attainment of a more favourable age profile of the Bharatiya military, focus on modernisation of military by equipping military with modern weaponry and giving an unprecedented opportunity to Nari Shakti to participate in the gender-neutral process.
Any scheme by the Government would obviously be opposed by the Opposition. The objections are that Agnipath doesn’t guarantee the future of the recruits as there is no pension for ‘retiring’ soldiers. The eligible age for recruitment is 17.5 years to 21 years (23 years for the first year). The eligible academic qualification ranges from 8th standard pass, 10th standard pass and 12th standard pass with minimum marks ranging from 33 per cent 45 per cent and 60 per cent; depending on the exact stream applied for. Agniveer would be given a distinct rank. Agniveer would be given a salary of Rs 30,000, 33000, 36,500 and 40,000 in 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th year respectively, excluding other allowances.
Risk & hardship, ration, dress and travel allowance shall be paid to each Agniveer. 75 per cent of the recruited Agniveer would be discharged post completion of the 4-year serving period. Upto 25 per cent of Agniveer will be enrolled in the Armed Forces as a regular cadre who’d then be required to serve the Bharatiya Army for an additional 15 years. Each Agniveer would be given a non-contributory insurance cover of Rs 48 lakhs for the 4-year engagement.
They’d (Hindu girls availing Agnipath scheme) learn skills, confidence and would be able to grow and belong to an ecosystem that would act as a defence against Love Jihad menace
Upon discharge, each Agniveer would be given Agniveer Skill Certificate, Seva Nidhi Package, 30 per cent of monthly salary would be deducted towards a corpus of Rs 5.02 lakhs per Agniveer that would be paid post 4 years of service. Government would make an equal contribution of Rs 5.02 lakhs. Additionally, the FAQs, terms and conditions released by the Army guarantees ex-gratia payment of Rs 44 lakhs for death attributable to service in addition to Rs 48 lakhs of non-contributory insurance.
Fight Love Jihad
The Agniveer scheme has been made gender neutral. This key feature should have been actively supported by the Woke Left. But we didn’t hear a word on that from the phoney Liberals. Hindu organisations have also been vociferously and rightly protesting against Love Jihad, whereby Hindu girls end up not just being converted to Islam brutally and by post marriage deception but also often get killed. The gender-neutral nature of Agniveer would be an asset to all girls, especially to Hindu girls who are vulnerable to menace of Love Jihad.
It is evident from the structure of the Agnipath package that it is an unprecedented positive paradigm shift in the discourse of recruitment of soldiers anywhere on the planet. One can’t recall any democratic government including North America and Western Europe with a similar heft as Bharat. After such a huge package, to expect a ‘retirement’ pension package at a young age of 21-23, is beyond common sense and needs to be rejected. Agniveers should instead be addressed as ‘Army Graduates’. The idea that the traditional regimental nature of the Bharatiya Army is being abolished has been emphatically denied by the Army. Even NSA Ajit Doval, in an interview to ANI, said that there’d be no tinkering with the regimental framework and 3-4 regiments are built along caste lines. These structures originally were a British ploy to keep Bharat divided.
Agnipath has been instituted to radically alter the age profile of the Bharatiya Army to make it fitter and more agile. According to Lt. General Anil Puri, the average age of a Bharatiya is 26 years. The average age of the Bharatiya Army soldier is 32 years, up from 30 years a few years ago. After 4 years, the Army would reassess whether to continue with a certain Agniveer or let him go.
The present Government would not have had to do all this heavy lifting had the same been done in time by the then Congress regimes. The Kargil Review Committee made similar recommendations in 1999.
Candidates lost two years because of COVID-19 and not because the Modi Government took sadistic pleasure in keeping them unemployed. Army took the right decision in halting recruitment because that would have impacted the health of many candidates. Candidates should be thanking PM Modi that they are getting away with a delay, rather than losing their life or becoming physically weak to pass the tough physical test.
On the training issue, Lt. General Puri and even the Army have clarified that over the decades the training regimen has become much more sophisticated due to technological intervention. The level of intelligence, awareness, technology adaptability and adeptness, instruction-uptake levels and diet of candidates is now much better too. As a result, the length of the training has been modified. Any compromise on training of the non-commissioned soldiers would mean more casualties of the commissioned ranks. Moreover, the Bharatiya Army surely doesn’t want to lose a war or lose men in terrorist attacks. The fear that the ‘graduating’ Agniveer would be snagged by anti-national forces comes out of an utterly negative mindset.
A Long Overdue Reform
In the KRC, it has been observed that even in 1999 “there have been very little change over the last 52 years despite the 1962 debacle, the 1965 stalemate, the 1971 victory, the growing nuclear threat, end of the cold war, continuation of the proxy war in Kashmir for over a decade and the revolution in military affairs.”.
What’s more, instead of cutting the “flab” as seemed to have been suggested by referring to the then concerned Generals and other top brass of the Army way back in 1989, PM Modi has given the best of all the worlds. He has not announced a single job-cut in the Bharatiya Army. Instead, he has announced more jobs while simultaneously managing to achieve a reduction in the average age of the Bharatiya Army while ensuring that the graduating Agniveer are productively employed and taken care of by announcing unprecedented incentives.
Violence has been allowed to continue unabated in Bihar. It seems that the parochial political leadership of Bihar is hell bent on embarrassing PM Narendra Modi all because he won’t heed his narrow sectarian calls to allow a caste census. What might be yielding confidence is the spate of ‘successes’ the tool-kit gang has had with anarchy and violence in the name of street protests. Time taken for spreading violence through manufactured protests is shrinking. Shaheen Bagh and Farmers’ Protest took longer in plan. The violence against the factual comment made by the former BJP spokesperson on the Prophet took even less time.
Basically, the ‘toolkit’ gang has been activated again. They are committed to fulfil the promise of Rahul Gandhi, who has repeatedly threatened until a short time ago that ‘the fire of comprehensive unrest is about to spread across the length and breadth of Bharat’. That the ED has had the “audacity” to call him in for questioning has only added to that resolve to spread unrest. The security agencies should also concomitantly ask him all that he might know regarding the unrest surrounding Agnipath, considering his prophecy that has actually devolved into reality. One is somehow sure that he might know a lot.
Further, the kingpin of the Farmers’ Protest has threatened to start a nationwide andolan against Agnipath, starting from June 30. The brigand needs to be put in preventive custody.
Responding to Protests
A statement made by PM Modi in response to the manufactured protest against CAA and NRC in December 2019 best explains the instigation of candidates through manufactured outrage against Agnipath: “The crow cut off my ear and flew away with it. And people started running after the crow. First check if your ears are intact or not.”
On June 19, 2022, PM Modi, made a passing hint at the unnecessary and totally avoidable and manufactured controversy surrounding Agnipath while delivering the speech at the inauguration ceremony of the Pragati Maidan tunnel and 5 underpasses on Mathura Road. However, except for acts of violence that genuine candidates would never indulge in, the impact has been more in voices made by the political opposition in TV news shows. The nationwide bandh called against Agnipath by Opposition parties on June 20 has not found any takers and has sunk without a trace.
Lt. Gen. Puri repeatedly said “there’s just no space for indiscipline, arson and vandalism”. The arsonists are being dealt with severely. The Union Home Ministry under Amit Shah must ensure that these acts of violence and arson are taken seriously and acted upon. The arsonists and their conspirators should be unearthed and charged as terrorists, seditionists and treasonists.
Unless a no-nonsense approach is taken, the message won’t get across that the Modi government is serious about acting against them. Jail time is not enough. The Yogi Adityanath government came down heavily on violent arsonists.
Current Situation of the Bharatiya Army
Agnipath is aimed at bringing the average age profile of the Bharatiya Army down to 26 years, from the current 32 years. Compared, the average age of a military personnel on active duty in the US is 26.9, as per a 2018 report issued by Department of Defence, US. Similarly, according to a book published by China Aerospace Studies Institute, the average age of a soldier on active duty in China can be said to be approximately slightly less than 30 years.
As for Pakistan, an indication of the average age of a Pakistani soldier can be had from the average age of a Pakistani, which is about 23 years – that’d be much younger than that of Bharat. Also, Pakistan relies on home grown terrorists in Bharat. So, the average age of a terrorist in Kashmir could be somewhere between 20 and 25. Of course, the Bharatiya Army makes sure that the average age may be whatever it is, but their average shelf life is just six to nine months.
Bharat boasts of a 100 per cent volunteer force, as against a conscription force. This is quite a feat all by itself especially considering the fact that Bharat is a close second to China when it comes to the size of total population. Add to it the fact that we are a democracy unlike China which is a totalitarian state, the magnitude of the feat becomes unparalleled both in scale and degrees.
Bharatiya Army didn’t conscript even during any of the wars that it has fought at any time during its entire existence. Not even during the colonial era did the Bharatiya Army require conscription to recruit 2.5 mn. Bharatiyas. Although, one could have mixed feelings about the voluntary nature of the recruitment during the British era.
China has a conscription force, though they claim that they haven’t had to conscript in decades. Knowing China and how transparency of data and truth itself is a casualty more often than not, that assertion needs to be taken with more than a pinch of salt. Even the US had to conscript in the Vietnam War. Military service is also compulsory in Russia, Brazil, Israel, Iran and Switzerland.
Ultimately, in a war, when bullets start whizzing by, the bombs start exploding and the Earth beneath the boots starts to shake, the morale of the soldiers is the asset most important to the Army. An example of this could be seen during the leaked videos of Chinese soldiers that emerged after the Galwan battle. While Bharatiya soldiers showed great resilience and smiled through the bone chilling winters of Leh, the Chinese conscripts could be seen crying, frequently falling ill which made rotation of the Army personnel of the Chinese Army a more frequent affair.
Agnipath would not alter this central facet of the Bharatiya military. It is designed to be a volunteer recruitment scheme and not a mandatory one.
The protest directed at the scheme has been misinformed and contrived. What’s most disappointing is that certain YouTube channels that present themselves as staunch nationalists have joined hands with anti-national forces and are contributing to the misinformation campaign.
A dangerously poisonous idea that Nehruvian-Socialists seem to be injecting amongst youngsters is that 75% of the recruits who’d be despatched after serving for four years won’t be given any pension. They’re trying their best to turn the youth into privileged ‘reward’ seekers. Thus, they are only furthering the unfinished colonial agenda.
In the world of Nehruvian-Socialism, the ideals that define the relationship between the rashtra, the state and the nagarik are all convoluted and inverted. To begin with, the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty never saw Bharatvarsha as a rashtra ever. In their mind, the idea of nationhood is a Western idea and Bharat was never a nation. Rahul Gandhi recently proudly reasserted that idea from London in a public gathering. So, to them, Bharat has always been basically a piece of land to be exploited.
This is also why Nehru spoke of Aksai Chin which was invaded and annexed by China, as a “only a piece of barren land where nothing grows”. And he had the audacity to say that from the Parliament. Nehru should have been pulled down from the position of PM of Bharat at that very moment. But, it seems the Congress was too full of sycophants for that to be achieved.
Therefore, in any case, the Nehruvian Socialists are automatically outlawed from even weighing in on this debate, much less, from sermonising. The latter begs credibility and making commissions out of defence deals is hardly a way of achieving that.
Bharat is not just a piece of land. It’s our collective history, our culture, memories of our ancestors that gave us Veda, Purana, Ayurveda, Yoga, Jyotisha, Shilpa, Sangeet, Natya Shastra and much more. It’s the punyabhoomi (the holy land) where avatars of such as Bhagavan Ram, Krishna, Sita and great rishi, muni once walked and where the Sapta Chiranjeevi still tread the Earth and where Kalki Avatar would one day be born. But in Nehruvian-Socialism, the citizen questions the State with an adversarial gaze at all times, sans exception. Their construct of the social contract between State and citizen is very transactional and utilitarian.
This is why before Shri Modiji became the PM, there was the lal batti culture, which he uprooted. It sent a signal – ‘We are privileged. We are different.’ This is also why, though the lal batti is gone, the stench of that colonial mindset still remains. The colonial “Collector” and the bureaucracy is still the maai-baap. Even a peon in the government is supposed to have some privilege. This system has been carefully curated by the Nehruvian-Socialists.
If the violence behind Agnipath has to stop, the immediate response might be corporeal and punitive but the long term response and solution has to be character building, something at which the RSS and other nationalist Hindu organisations are good.
Exposing Congress’ ‘Love’ For Army
The love Congress’ shows for the Bharatiya Army is as fake and phoney as Buraq the Donkey that flew to the Moon. Specifically, in the case of the Bharatiya military, it’s even truer. OROP, which was reinstituted by PM Narendra Modi, was the status quo that was removed by Indira Gandhi.
In 1962, Assam was almost given away by Pt. Nehru. When the Chinese Army captured Bomdila, Nehru said, “My heart goes out to the people of Assam.”, effectively surrendering Assam to China. It was a horrible capitulation where the entire government machinery deserted Bomdilla and Tezpur and the people feeling helpless and abandoned too fled. Later, the Chinese vacated the area upon ceasefire and perhaps international pressure.
The Congress has no love lost for the Bharatiya Army. They asked for proof of the surgical strikes. They had the full support of Left (faux)-Liberal news outlets who went looking for the caste of the CRPF personnel who attained veergati. Congress “leader” Kannhaiya Kumar, had proudly called Bharatiya Army “rapists”. Today, he unabashedly gives sermons on his concerns on the Agniveer issue.
When Major Leetul Gogi of the Bharatiya Army, facing a life and death situation from a murderous mob out to kill him, in Kashmir, came up with a novel strategy of using a Kashmiri youth at the front of the jeep to escape, the same Liberals in Lutyens Delhi bayed for his blood.
Consequently, when the then Army Chief Bipin Rawat defended the Major, Sandeep Dixit, a Congress leader and son of Sheila Dixit, the ex-CM of Delhi, had called General Bipin Rawat, a sadak ka gunda.
The UPA era also witnessed a very unseemly and shameful act of subterfuge by the topmost political leadership of the Congress in cahoots with an Editor-in-Chief of a Bharati newspaper. On March 12, 2012, things in the “policy paralysis” ridden and bureaucratic red-tape infested UPA government had come to such a pass that the then Army Chief General VK Singh was compelled to send a frantic ‘SoS’ to PM himself, expressing deep agony about the defence preparedness of the Army which he said was “indeed alarming”.
The political leadership didn’t take very kindly to the General and apparently made up its mind to get back at the General. Suddenly, one day, an article appeared in the press in which the Editor spread baseless canards about how the then Army Chief, General VK Singh was perhaps planning a coup, without using the word, but clearly insinuating the same.
Clearly such an act of subterfuge can shatter the morale of any Army. This wasn’t the first time an Army General was being demeaned. Disrespect for the Armed Forces runs in the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty dispensation. Nehu was so fond of Defence Minister VK Krishna Menon that he was nicknamed “Nehru’s Evil Genius”. He presided over the disgrace of first ceding part of Kashmir to Pakistan, then Aksai Chin to China and finally losing the Indo-China war of 1962 that he and Nehru were repeatedly warned against by the Bharatiya Army repeatedly for a few years before the actual attack.
PM Modi’s Work on Military Reforms
PM Modi, in contrast, has an impeccable record. He reinstituted OROP. He kickstarted the AatmaNirbhar campaign in the defence manufacturing sector. He has doubled the defence budget since 2014. He instituted the office of the Chief of Defence Staff – a long standing demand of the Bharatiya Army. He instituted the permanent office for senior army officers in the rank of Additional and Joint Secretaries with commensurate powers – thus raising not just the bar on operational efficiency but also that of the dignity of the Armed Forces. When Pulwama happened, PM Modi conducted a surgical strike to avenge their honour. He launched airstrikes deep into enemy territory in Balako. When the Chinese threatened in Galwan, he matched their military presence, pound for pound.
Bharat needs to invest more in building weapon systems of the future and quality of its troops than in building the quantity of troops. We are living in a day where we are at a cusp of a major shift in the way wars would be fought. Militaries around the world are investing heavily in the concept of “contact-less war” – an even more advanced version of the killer drone strikes that US President Obama had used effectively against ISIS and Taliban in Afghanistan.
Developing an indigeneous arms industry is PM Narendra Modi’s pet project, because it’s critical to Bharat’s nationhood. Bharat sits on a ticking time bomb of homegrown jihad propelled by jihadi export from Pakistan
The ongoing Ukraine-Russia war has given us a good view of that. Even before the enemy columns march in, you’d be pummeled by precision strikes of hypersonic missiles and other smart bombs that’d throw you back to the stone age.
Major General (Retd.) Dr. GD Bakshi, SM, VSM, said in a recent tweet post the Agnipath scheme, “Russia Ukraine war are vital for us because over 70 per cent of our equipment is of Russian origin. We must separate fact from fiction. As per quickie analysis the TANK is dead, that Javelins & Stingers destroyed all tanks & aircraft & Barkatyar drones rule skies”.
Peculiarities of the Enemies of Bharat
Bharat’s topography is unique. Bharat’s enemies are unique. Bharat’s history with those enemies is unique. Our enemies are fighting an asymmetric war against us. It’s death by a thousand cuts – salami slicing. Much of the war being waged by both Pakistan and China is by way of proxies inside Bharat. Pakistan is known to train, arm and equip cheap mujahideens and China finds willing fighters in Naxals, amongst others. Simultaneously, Bharat plays by the rules and doesn’t retaliate in equal measure.
Thus, the mileage that Pakistan and China extract from their military expenditure against their arch rival Bharat is much more than how we reciprocate. We’ve still not come even in the proximate vicinity of any sizable scale on what NSA Ajit Doval has often called “offensive defence”.
We are still basically on “defence”. Bharat has never been an aggressor to either China and Pakistan. They have formed a tactical team to exterminate Bharat by squeezing us from the Western and the Northern border. Part of Bharat’s territory is under illegal occupation by both Pakistan and China.
Under PM Narendra Modi, Bharat has shrunk the gap between imports and exports rapidly. Bharat increased arms exports by 228 per cent between 2016 – 20, from 0.1 per cent between 2011 – 15. Similarly, Bharat decreased arms imports by 33 per cent from 14 per cent to 9.5 per cent in the same period. This has happened due to PM Modi’s massive AatmaNirbhar push. Also, it’s no concealed fact that international defence deals are notorious for kickbacks. Apparently, they were also a source of loot for the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty as evidenced by the Bofors scam and the AgustaWestland scam, amongst others during the UPA era.
When PM Modi came to power, he established an entire institution called MyGov that was supposed to establish a government-to-people connect. It’s a vast improvement on the discourse which was non-existent earlier. Even on Agnipath, MyGov has done a competent job in preparing excellent ‘collaterals’ and one-two-three pagers which seek to inform the people.
However, it must also be conceded that the process of planning, launching and executing the scheme specifically on the “front” of ‘public perception’ could have been better managed.