Agnipath Scheme: Congress Holds Protests Across Rajasthan
The Congress party took to the streets today (27 June) against the Agnipath military reforms introduced by the Union government this month.
Context: Congress leaders and workers in Rajasthan protested against the scheme in all 200 assembly constituencies in the state.
Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief Govind Singh Dotasra demanded that the scheme be withdrawn.
“Agnipath scheme is not in the interest of the country and the youths. The government will have to withdraw the scheme,” he said.
Congress MLA Rameshwar Dudi said, “The government has introduced the scheme to crush the dreams of lakhs of youths who aspire to join the armed forces to serve the nation.”
Not just Rajasthan. The Congress staged protests in a few different places today.
Protests in J&K Congress, as in other states, demanded the central government to roll back the military recruitment scheme immediately.
In Assam, several leaders and workers of the party were detained during the protests.
In Nagpur, some Youth Congress workers stopped a train for about half an hour before police intervened.
Rajasthan was at it early. On 18 June, which was the day after the launch of Agnipath, the Rajasthan council of ministers passed a resolution demanding the withdrawal of the scheme.
The resolution was passed unanimously during a meeting held at Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s residence in Jaipur.
Opposition parties across states have egged on the protestors even as top military officials, including the chiefs of all three branches, have scrambled to address concerns and queries.
National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, in a recent interview, ruled out the possibility of a rollback as he addressed the concerns of aspirants, veterans, and civil society.
Doval called out the vested-interest groups, terming them 'conflict entrepreneurs'.
This description was similar to Modi's term andolanjeevis to refer to people whose filters don't allow them to see the merits of a government scheme and those who thrive on protest economy.
The protests have unsurprisingly morphed into arson, vandalism, and wanton destruction of public property, with political parties adding fuel to the fire.
Agnipath in brief: Agnipath is a new recruitment system for the Indian military — Army, Navy, and Air Force — wherein Agniveers (recruits) aged 17-21 will be admitted to the military for four years, after which, based on their preference and performance, 25 per cent will be retained.
The soldiers who exit after four years will get a certificate for their skills.
They will also get Rs 11.7 lakh tax-free seva nidhi and the experience of serving in the armed forces.
The need for it: The main aim of the Agnipath scheme is to prevent the salaries/pensions section of the defence budget from rising.
The total expenditure on this head crosses 60 per cent of the total defence budget, thus leaving little for modernisation and technological enhancement.
A military that fails to modernise will not stand a chance in modern-day warfare, which is contactless and technology-driven.
A younger military also increases efficiency, agility, and the overall effectiveness of the armed forces.
Agnipath on track: As a result of the government's outreach, law and order machinery getting to work, and the military notifying the scheme, protests are on the wane in states. However, they are not doused yet, as seen in Rajasthan today.
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