Strategic experts believe coordinated government response will allay concerns about Agnipath scheme

Dalip Singh | | Updated on: Jun 17, 2022
 It is important to explain the benefits available for Agniveers after completing the four-year tenure

 It is important to explain the benefits available for Agniveers after completing the four-year tenure

Fears about post-service employment need to be addressed in a systematic way

The government is caught unawares by the scale and intensity of the public anger against the Agnipath scheme although it had expected some reaction to the radical contract recruitment to the armed forces keeping in mind “two-and-half front war” and futuristic battle requirements.

The feeling among the top echelons of the Defence establishment is that the Government failed to build the necessary narrative to introduce such a radical reform. While though the idea was thrashed out behind closed doors with stakeholders, a much more coordinated response was needed involving multiple government departments and ministries to address especially the concerns about post-service employment opportunities of the Agniveers, said top sources.

“There is no place for violence and protest of this nature for youth who are aspiring to join the defence forces. This is happening because of a lack of understanding of the scheme,” former IAF Chief RKS Bhadauria said.

‘Imbibing global practices’

The former IAF chief is echoing the sentments of the the top brass who believe that radical reforms in the defence sector are an idea whose time has come. Sources said the Tour of Duty scheme, which was initially conceived for both the officers as well as the jawans, is a brainchild of the Prime Minister’s office and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. The aim was not just to cut the pension bill but, more significantly, imbibe global practices and keep the armed forces battle ready for modern times.

It had the backing of the late Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat although the then Army, Navy and Air Force top leadership had discussed their reservations, a military officer privy to the discussions said. But, after several rounds of discussions and tweaking of the scheme, the top brass went along with the idea of bringing in temporary recruitment among jawans. For officers there already exists the short service commission.

‘Clear communication’

Before the Tuesday’s launch contractual scheme, it was agreed that top brass of Army, Air Force and Navy would speak from different field formations about the positives of the four-year contractual recruitment. The communication strategy was made on the premise that all class, all India Agnipath scheme would require public awareness since it was too radical for youths to digest at the first brush, said top government sources. But what was not expected was the violent response from youth across the States and the feeling now is that a coordinated response from across the ministries can still pacify the youth. It is important to explain the benefits available for Agniveers after completing the four-year tenure.

Army veteran Major General (retired) BS Dhanao suggested that a commitment from Central Armed Paramilitary Forces and state police would pacify the agitators. “..For those leaving after their short service, do obtain a binding commitment from CAPFs, states’ police forces and other organisations that they are willing to absorb this trained military manpower,” he wrote.

Published on June 17, 2022
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

You May Also Like

Recommended for you