Author: Kaushiki Ishwar
Student, Miranda House College
The Indian government unveiled Agnipath, a new military recruitment programme, on June 14. Under this, young people between the ages of 17 and 23 will get training for four-year commissions in the Army. The administration has undoubtedly expected that the training period will not count as anyone under the age of 18 who serves in the armed forces is deemed a "child soldier." One-fourth of these recruits will be eligible to choose and join the regular armed forces after four years. The remainder will receive an Agniveer Skill certificate, insurance, and a post-release financial package. They won't qualify for the standard Army pensions. Since the announcement, protests in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have picked up steam, with the temporary tenure and absence of pension being the main points of contention. Veterans who have left the military have expressed worries about the level of service and the implications for national security. What is the issue Agnipath is trying to resolve and what issues is it certain to bring about? According to what we've been informed, the programme will reduce India's pension costs while bringing in younger, newer personnel. But at a cost we cannot bear, it will arm and perhaps even brutalise our youth.
Who will agniveer sign up to be? Most likely, those with the worst post-secondary prospects and few educational options will be drawn to the programme. Studies in European nations with conscription suggest that such a break in education is frequently permanent and that recruits frequently struggle with mental health concerns or drug misuse issues. There may be criminals. Agniveers will still be young and unexperienced even if they choose to participate. The discharged recruits and their families will have to manage on their own without readily available support facilities in India, with spouses presumably suffering the brunt of their maladjustment. Indian unemployment is high. If they are able to finish education, young people are leaving schools and colleges with diplomas but very little skill. They won't be able to find a position that is comparable after they leave the Army after four years, having carried and learned to wield weapons. An official was reported as adding that a "Agniveer" would have a distinctive resume and that he would stand out with "his attitude, abilities, and time" spent in the armed services in a tweet by the news agency ANI regarding this statement. We may assume that they would be combat and defence skills given that their main duty is to protect our borders. Who else will need these besides the cops and private security? Who else will require these abilities besides the police and private security? Where will these young men go and what will they do if no one needs them? More worrisome is the "attitude." We already have a violent culture and a political system that effectively protects acts of heinous violence carried out in the name of caste and community. 34,500 Agniveers will retire in four years, while 46,000 will be employed this year. A small percentage of retirees who have access to loans and a sizable severance payment will undoubtedly launch their own businesses. The remaining soldiers will depart the barracks to begin their lives in a divided but aspiring society, where their chances will not live up to their expectations. Their dissatisfaction and grudge would make Riots can break out as a result of their dissatisfaction and hatred toward their neighbours who may have pursued additional education or apprenticed in a commercial trade. Recall February 2020 in northeast Delhi.
India has been experiencing a daughter deficit due to falling sex ratios. Men already struggle to locate spouses in some states and frequently share wives with multiple siblings. On 20 years ago, academics wrote about what occurs in a society as the proportion of unmarried, young men increases. These "bare branches," or guys who won't start families, might be used as ammunition in civil wars. The results can only be disastrous if we prepare them for battle, give them weapons, and then let them loose on society. India ranked second internationally in terms of private gun ownership in 2017, according to estimates, with 71,101,000 privately owned (licit and illicit) firearms and 61,401,000 unregistered and illegally held firearms. Soon, 35,000 of the 50,000 Indian soldiers we train each year for combat will be retiring. Imagine 35,000 young men finishing their Agnipath duty and being thrust into a hostile, indifferent world where they are likely to encounter pistols after spending four years learning to shoot in a patriarchal culture that glorifies violence. They wouldn't be taken seriously if they didn't have the ability to damage and terrify people with a weapon. We cannot ignore the link between firearms and gender-based violence. There is a clear association between higher rates of intimate partner and domestic violence and communities where people feel safe carrying, owning, and using guns. In public places, the threat of armed assault increases. Armed conflict causes more issues than it resolves. Public and interpersonal violence are both rising subtly. Accepting violence as a valid form of communication fosters the impunity for both individual and governmental violence. Information is guarded, secrets abound, access is constrained, and surveillance is accepted as a standard practise as more issues are brought under the scope of security. After state security, which may be described in terms that are more exclusive and personal, inequality and injustice are no longer major problems. The end justifies the methods. Without abandoning liberty and justice, militarized solutions to social issues cannot be sought in free, open, democratic countries.