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Cancel Agnipath scheme: SKM appeals to President

Farmer leaders say the new recruitment process plays with the dreams of youths

Sabrangindia 23 Jun 2022

military

Cancel the Agnipath scheme and enforce regular recruitment instead, appealed farmers' umbrella body Sanyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) in a letter addressed to President Ram Nath Kovind.

Apprehensive of the scheme’s impact on Indian agriculture, the SKM asked the Supreme Commander of the Indian Army to opt for regular army recruitment to fill previous 1,25,000 vacancies and about 60,000 posts to be vacant this year. Similarly, it asked that the government complete the process where it has already started, considering non-recruitment for the last two years. As per youths’ requests the SKM also asked for an age relaxation of two years for general recruitment.

What is the Agnipath scheme?

The central government will recruit youths between the ages 17.5 and 21 years in the military for contractual jobs for only four years under the Agnipath scheme. At the end of four years of service, a quarter of the employees will receive permanent jobs. Further, the recruitment will be on a ‘All India All Class’ basis instead of a regiment-based area community quota prevalent until recently.

However, these temporary employees termed ‘Agniveers’ will receive neither rank nor gratuity nor pension. There is also the issue of the upper-age limit that excludes many youths awaiting recruitment for the last two pandemic years. It is for such varied reasons that India’s youth have held protests across the country. Farmers and trade unions have voiced their condemnation of the scheme as well.

SKM members too opposed this scheme stating that it halts the direct recruitment of youths to permanent army jobs in the army. Already, the process of confirmed recruitment in the Army and Air Force which had already started was cancelled in lieu of this scheme.

“Only 46,000 people will be appointed in the first year of this scheme and two lakh Agniveers will be appointed in the first four years as against 87,000 in the previous 2020 recruitment,” said the SKM.

Moreover, it condemned the government announcement that youths protesting this scheme will not be allowed to apply for the same. Farmer argued that applicants should not be conditioned to take an affidavit which deprives them of their right to democratic demonstration. As such, it demanded that the government withdraw all cases against anti-Agnipath protesters and release arrested youths.

Contentions against the scheme

Farmer leaders criticised the government for failing to carry out a pilot exercise of the scheme. Officials did not discuss these proposals before either Houses of Parliament or the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence Affairs. Instead, leaders pointed out that the government retained the existing regimental recruitment system and increased the retirement age in recent years.

“It has become clear from the nationwide discussion about this scheme for the last few days that it is a big blow to national security,” said the SKM.

It warned that the scheme will halve or further lessen the armed forces strength in the next 15 years, starting from a time when threats to national security from neighbouring countries worsen.

The SKM said former Army generals, officers, gallantry medalists like Param Vir Chakra and military experts also warned about the dire consequences of this scheme. The scheme also comes at a time when the national security budget is reduced from 17.8 percent of the central government's expenditure in the year 2017-18 to 13.2 percent in 2021-22.

“It is a great injustice to the youth to make three-fourths of Agniveers stand on the road after four years of service. The reality is that the government has not been able to make satisfactory arrangements for rehabilitation even for most of the ex-servicemen who have served 15 to 18 years. What arrangement will it make for the employment of Agniveer?” asked the SKM.

To voice solidarity with aspiring youths, farmers have called for nationwide farmers' protests on June 24. The Joint Platform of Central Trade Unions and Independent Sectoral Federations and Associations too voiced their support for the protest.

“Such a dubiously designed scheme severely degenerating quality of employment in the country's armed forces will be damaging and disastrous for the country's security and combative preparedness, besides dampening the morale and determination of our soldiers,” said CTUs in a joint press release.

Related:

India’s peasantry opposes Agnipath scheme

Centre tightens security against anti-agnipath Bharat Bandh

Scrap the ‘Agnipath Scheme’, protesters stage violent protests countrywide

Cancel Agnipath scheme: SKM appeals to President

Farmer leaders say the new recruitment process plays with the dreams of youths

military

Cancel the Agnipath scheme and enforce regular recruitment instead, appealed farmers' umbrella body Sanyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) in a letter addressed to President Ram Nath Kovind.

Apprehensive of the scheme’s impact on Indian agriculture, the SKM asked the Supreme Commander of the Indian Army to opt for regular army recruitment to fill previous 1,25,000 vacancies and about 60,000 posts to be vacant this year. Similarly, it asked that the government complete the process where it has already started, considering non-recruitment for the last two years. As per youths’ requests the SKM also asked for an age relaxation of two years for general recruitment.

What is the Agnipath scheme?

The central government will recruit youths between the ages 17.5 and 21 years in the military for contractual jobs for only four years under the Agnipath scheme. At the end of four years of service, a quarter of the employees will receive permanent jobs. Further, the recruitment will be on a ‘All India All Class’ basis instead of a regiment-based area community quota prevalent until recently.

However, these temporary employees termed ‘Agniveers’ will receive neither rank nor gratuity nor pension. There is also the issue of the upper-age limit that excludes many youths awaiting recruitment for the last two pandemic years. It is for such varied reasons that India’s youth have held protests across the country. Farmers and trade unions have voiced their condemnation of the scheme as well.

SKM members too opposed this scheme stating that it halts the direct recruitment of youths to permanent army jobs in the army. Already, the process of confirmed recruitment in the Army and Air Force which had already started was cancelled in lieu of this scheme.

“Only 46,000 people will be appointed in the first year of this scheme and two lakh Agniveers will be appointed in the first four years as against 87,000 in the previous 2020 recruitment,” said the SKM.

Moreover, it condemned the government announcement that youths protesting this scheme will not be allowed to apply for the same. Farmer argued that applicants should not be conditioned to take an affidavit which deprives them of their right to democratic demonstration. As such, it demanded that the government withdraw all cases against anti-Agnipath protesters and release arrested youths.

Contentions against the scheme

Farmer leaders criticised the government for failing to carry out a pilot exercise of the scheme. Officials did not discuss these proposals before either Houses of Parliament or the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence Affairs. Instead, leaders pointed out that the government retained the existing regimental recruitment system and increased the retirement age in recent years.

“It has become clear from the nationwide discussion about this scheme for the last few days that it is a big blow to national security,” said the SKM.

It warned that the scheme will halve or further lessen the armed forces strength in the next 15 years, starting from a time when threats to national security from neighbouring countries worsen.

The SKM said former Army generals, officers, gallantry medalists like Param Vir Chakra and military experts also warned about the dire consequences of this scheme. The scheme also comes at a time when the national security budget is reduced from 17.8 percent of the central government's expenditure in the year 2017-18 to 13.2 percent in 2021-22.

“It is a great injustice to the youth to make three-fourths of Agniveers stand on the road after four years of service. The reality is that the government has not been able to make satisfactory arrangements for rehabilitation even for most of the ex-servicemen who have served 15 to 18 years. What arrangement will it make for the employment of Agniveer?” asked the SKM.

To voice solidarity with aspiring youths, farmers have called for nationwide farmers' protests on June 24. The Joint Platform of Central Trade Unions and Independent Sectoral Federations and Associations too voiced their support for the protest.

“Such a dubiously designed scheme severely degenerating quality of employment in the country's armed forces will be damaging and disastrous for the country's security and combative preparedness, besides dampening the morale and determination of our soldiers,” said CTUs in a joint press release.

Related:

India’s peasantry opposes Agnipath scheme

Centre tightens security against anti-agnipath Bharat Bandh

Scrap the ‘Agnipath Scheme’, protesters stage violent protests countrywide

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