PM about ‘Agnipath’ row: “Some Decisions Look Unfair But…”
Amid countrywide protests and severe opposition criticism over the Agnipath defence recruitment scheme Prime Minister Narendra Modi said some decisions “may look unfair” at first, but will help in nation-building later. “Several decisions look unfair at present. In time, those decisions will help in building the nation,” PM Modi during a public address in Bengaluru, but did not make any mention of the scheme.
Several opposition parties, including the Congress, have dubbed “Agnipath” the latest blunder of the government, part of a series that includes demonetisation and the farm laws. Many of the critics have predicted a rollback.
However, the government is standing firm. The military has declared that this was a long-awaited change in tune with the global trend that is increasingly focussed on the use of cutting-edge technology in warfare and a younger age profile for soldiers that’s more in tune with it.
However, the terms of the Agnipath scheme ie. recruitment between the ages of 17.5 and 21 years and mandatory retirement for most after four years without any gratuity or pension, has generated fury in the backdrop of largescale unemployment and economic depression.
The government’s offer of various avenues of employment for “Agniveers” — including in police, paramilitary forces, home and defence ministries — has failed to mollify protesters who have been on the warpath since the June 14 announcement.
Several organisations have even called for an all-India strike during which more than 500 trains were cancelled by the railways, which has suffered major loss of property due to arson and vandalism by the protesters.