Published: 17th June 2022
Agnipath scheme: The long and short of what's happening and why youngsters, students are protesting
Nothing seems to have halted the protests which are breaking out in several states where students and youngsters are unleashing their anger on public property
A day after the Agnipath scheme was approved by the Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, massive protests erupted in various places across India.
The Centre's Agnipath scheme is meant to recruit youth from across India for the Army, Navy as well as Air Force. Under this scheme, youngsters will serve in the regular cadres and will be hired for four years, including six months of training. And they will be known as 'Agniveers'. Apart from a one-time SevaNidhi package of Rs 11.71 lakh, there will be no pension, health or education benefits.
It may be noted that several politicians and top officials of the Armed Forces, like Vice Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General BS Raju and Northern Army Commander Lt Gen Upendra Dwivedi, praised this scheme highly, opining that it would benefit the youth immensely and make better citizens of them.
What went wrong then?
It has been reported that the aspirants are unhappy with the length of service. They are also displeased that there is no pension or gratuity provision for those who will be released early from the services. The students are also worried about their future after they are released from the services and have to move back to civilian life.
And the major issue is the age group designated for the Agniveers, which was 17.5 to 21, which renders many of the aspirants many ineligible. Though the upper age limit was extended to 23 years on the night of June 16 after the backlashes, the protests continue.
They have claimed that this two-year relaxation in age is not enough as many still remain ineligible. Also, the age limit has been increased only for the first year, as a one-time opportunity, as stated by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
But nothing seems to have halted the protests which are breaking out in several states where students and youngsters are unleashing their anger on public property.
While it was in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh where the violence peaked yesterday, today, at the Hyderabad's Secunderabad Railway Station trains were burnt and the station was vandalised, leading to the death of one and eight others were injured.
Youngsters also took to Kolkata's Howrah Bridge to protest.
States like Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand too saw instances of youth's wrath.
Some student groups in Delhi including the All India Students’ Association (AISA) and Revolutionary Youth Association (RYA) have also raised their voice against the same.
As a result of this, 200 trains have been affected, with 35 of them being cancelled.
Now here's one last thought to chew on.
More than half of the defence budget of India, which is Rs 5.25 trillion, is spent on the pensions and salaries of Indian military personnel. The cost was shooting further up, and it has been reported that to cut it down, this scheme was introduced.