The Indian Ministry of Defense has announced the ‘Agneepath’ project for recruitment in the Indian Army. The announcement was made on Wednesday. Tensions have risen in several Indian states since the ministry’s announcement.
Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana are some of the states in India where a large number of young people have joined the army as lower-ranking personnel. Protests against the project have started in these three states. The intensity of the protests is highest in Bihar.
India’s defense ministry said on Wednesday that young people between the ages of 18 and 21 would get jobs in the army, air force and navy for four years under the Agnipath project.
They will be given basic training. During this time they will be paid a salary of 30 to 40 thousand rupees per month and a lump sum of 11 to 12 lakh rupees after four years. But the jobs of more than 25 percent trained youth will not be made permanent.
Opposing the announcement, youths blocked roads and vandalized trains and buses in different districts of Bihar including Ara, Nawada, Saharsa and Jehanabad. Stones were hurled at the police. Sudhir Yadav, a schoolteacher in Patna, the capital of Bihar, told Prothom Alo that army jobs are most attractive to the youth of Bihar. Because, in a poor state like Bihar, other job opportunities are less.
Meanwhile, protests have also started in many districts of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana from noon on Thursday. The local administration fears that the protests will spread further. Sudhir Yadav said that one of the major benefits of a job in the army is permanent job opportunities. That benefit is no longer guaranteed. This is the main reason for the protest.
In addition to this, the project announcement states that through this temporary job, there is an opportunity to apply for inclusion in the regular cadre service. Indian Army observers and several retired officers have objected to this. According to them, after four years, these young people will come out with firearms training in a semi-educated state. Then where will they go?
Meanwhile, several observers have said that in the future, young people who have not been permanently recruited in the army will find a place in the Hindu nationalist organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangha or other pro-Hindu organizations. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has always been urging cadres and people from different walks of life to be trained in weapons, especially firearms.
According to critics of the project, the social paramilitary forces that were created in what was then called ‘Brown Shirts’ in Nazi Germany, the BJP government wants to do just that through the Agneepath project. This project will turn India into a military society, which is not desirable. Many retired Indian Army officers have made similar comments about Agnipath.