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Contract System in Patriotism

Posted in Featured, View Point

Published on June 24, 2022 with No Comments

Narendra Modi government in India has been facing dissension for not providing employment as promised to two crores youth. It came out with an innovative recruitment program in defense forces named “agniveers”; and was expected to win accolades, however it has resulted in continuing and widespread violent protests by army aspirants. Due to the pandemic, the recruitment below officer rank into the military was suspended for two years and now when the same has been restarted, the aspirants have realized that they will only be recruited for four years leading to protests. These violent protests not only suit the aspirants who are supposed to serve the nation, but also reflect distrust of the state when it comes to providing promised employment to the youth.

Agniveers will be enrolled for service duration of four  years including the training period. After four years, only twenty five per cent of the Agniveers will be retained or re-enlisted in the regular cadre based on merit, willingness and medical fitness. These 25 per cent Agniveers will then serve for a full term of another 15 years.

Modi government has promised that 46,000 Agniveers will be recruited this year. The entry age for all new recruits in the Armed Forces has been fixed as 17.5 to 21 years of age. However, following protests, the Central government announced an increase in the upper age limit for the recruitment of Agniveers from 21 years to 23 years for the recruitment cycle of 2022 as it has not been possible to undertake the recruitment during the last two years.

While the government highlighted that that the ‘Agnipath’ scheme gives a golden opportunity to the youth to join the defence system and serve the country, the protestors find the recruitment policy  controversial, they fear that it carries multiple risks, subverts the long-standing traditions and ethos of the armed forces and there is no guarantee that the soldiers recruited under the scheme will be better trained and motivated to defend the country. Also, those who have cleared the written, medical and physical test under the old system of recruitment and were awaiting their appointment letters find themselves at a point of no return as the government has not commented about status of those candidates.

When it comes to armed forces, any government needs to be doubly cautious and assure that it will not be compromising on protecting the boundaries. Security forces of the country have to be professional, and to inculcate such professionalism, the personnel have to be given encouragement, motivation and satisfaction through job security, social security, weaponry, skills, etc.

The perception of the government that short-term military enlistment exists in many countries is ill founded. These countries adopted the program when they were faced with shortage of able bodied young men, whereas in India there are millions and millions of men who are able bodied and willing to work for army and that too for a longer period. However, the shortage of budget for the defence forces can’t be ruled out. It is true that 25.6% of the degence budget is going for salaries and 22.8% is going for pensions out of the total Defence Budget of Rs 5.25 lakh crore. It is equally true that India’s Defence expenditure, as a percentage of GDP, has come down from 2.9% in 2001 to 2.7% in 2021. Can the government be expected to trim the forces, risk the borders where it faces hostile neighbours in Pakistan and China? The  ill-thought-out Agnipath has resulted in disappointment, dissatisfaction and disillusionment and the fear of unemployment is palpable in the minds of unemployed youth. The reason for such disappointment is because there has always been high demand to join the armed forces and equally for government jobs, but the offer of  ‘contract’ jobs, has hurts them.






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