NSA Doval Hails Agniveer, Calls Out Vested Interests, Dismisses Rollback

Swarajya Staff

Jun 24, 2022, 06:33 PM | Updated Jun 28, 2022, 10:35 AM IST

National Security Advisor Ajit Doval
National Security Advisor Ajit Doval

NSA Ajit Doval spoke at length about Agnipath - the military's new recruitment scheme in an interview. While lauding its objectives, he described those benefitting from the ongoing protests as 'conflict entrepreneurs'.

Context: He was addressing the questions and doubts surrounding the Agnipath scheme.

  • He spoke about the military's long-standing need and demand for a personnel-based reform.

  • Doval categorically dismissed the idea of a rollback citing its benefits and need.

Long-standing demand: Doval noted recommendations made by committees in the past for a younger army.

  • The General Krishna Rao Committee in 1970s

  • The Arun Singh report in 1989

  • Group of Ministers report

  • The Subramaniam Committee report

  • The Kargil Committee report

Addressing veterans' concerns: Doval sought to alleviate concerns about the regimental system being tinkered with and the impact of having Agniveers in the standing army.

  • He said that regiments of artillery, electrical, mechanical engineers and others will continue.

  • On the question of the military's effectiveness coming down, Doval said that Agniveers will only constitute a part of the army and experienced military members would still be in majority.

  • Those who eventually become regular, ie, 25% of the total recruits each year, will undergo more intensive training.

  • He said that "after four years, the people who will join the Army will be crème de la crème."

Future-ready force: Doval said that the wars of the future will be increasingly contactless and fought using technology. He underlined that India would need an agile and tech-savvy soldier for such conflicts.

  • He said "We must have a young, fit, agile and well-trained Army. It is a contradiction that a country that has the youngest population, has the oldest Army,"

  • "If we have to prepare for tomorrow, then we have to change" said the NSA.

Opportunites for Agniveers post-exit: Doval said that discipline, training, skills, confidence and four years of service in the defence forces would prepare Agniveers for new opportunities after exit.

  • The Seva Nidhi package - Rs 11 Lakhs which will be given to each Agniveer post their 4 years of service - the NSA said can be utilised for pursuing further studies.

  • He also hinted at the plethora of opportunities for these trained Agniveers in a $5 trillion economy thus trying to allay their fears.

Impact of Agniveers on the society: Doval dismissed the claim that the Agniveers who exit after four years would become mercenaries for hire.

  • He said for a peaceful society, a law-abiding citizenry is a must and trained Agniveers with nationalist sentiments would be a boon for developing such a society.

  • Besides physical training, the military also provides mental training based on which the Agniveers would be an asset to the society, said the NSA.

Calling out the vested interests: Doval said that those indulging in protests, arson, and vandalism have vested interests and would benefit from the status quo.

  • He described this category as 'Conflict entrepreneurs'. This is similar to 'Andolanjeevis' - those who thrive on conflict, coined by PM Modi in the past.

  • Doval said these include coaching institutes benefiting from the status quo, people who want to discredit the government and those who are pushing the youth towards vandalism and arson.

  • He also warned of action against those who engaged in wanton destruction of public property.

Comprehensive defence reforms in action: Doval said that the announcement of the Agnipath scheme should be viewed as part of a series of defence reforms.

  • The NSA said that PM Narendra Modi had initiated several long-pending reforms to make India secure and strong.

  • He categorised these reforms under four heads - equipment and technology, systems and structure, manpower policies and future-oriented.

Bottom line: With the NSA addressing genuine concerns and criticising vested interest groups, the protesters may finally get some clarity about the scheme.

Get Swarajya in your inbox.