“Agnipath” Scheme – Another Deliberate Misadventure By Government Like Corporatization of OFB and GOCO Model in Defence?

Agnipath needs a reconsideration in interest of defence & national security, opines C. Srikumar, General Secretary, AIDEF

Opinion Piece

Mixed opinions are coming in the public domain and in the media after the Cabinet took a major policy decision in the name of “transformative reform” to recruit youth of the country in the Armed Forces for a period of 4 years and after training them to absorb only 25% of the trained youth and the remaining 75% will be sent out and they have to search job for themselves. Many Defence experts and retired Generals have opposed the move of the Government. Many political parties have also reacted against the Government decision.

In many Defence Establishments Civilian Employees and Armed Forces Personnel are working side by side for the Defence of our Country. Therefore, to know the reaction of the Trade Union of the Defence Civilian Employees on this transformative reform to recruit youth as Agniveers.

www.indianpsu.com interacted with C. Srikumar the General Secretary of AIDEF who have got more than 42 years experience in the Defence, who said “by introducing this so called transformative reform in the name of “Agnipath”, the Government has done deliberately one more misadventure like corporatizing the Ordnance Factories and implementing GOCO Model in Defence. Decisions and policies concerning national security should be discussed in the Parliament and with experts in the field before taking such decisions. Unfortunately in the present Government only few selected people who claim themselves as expert advices the Government and the Government without further consultations and discussions implement all those ill conceived advices. The Farm Laws which were withdrawn was one such example. 75% of the recruited youngsters amounts to 40000 per year who will be thrown out to the street after the 4 years contract. These people have to search for job and already majority of Ex-serviceman who retire at a younger age of 40/45 years are not getting the desired job and ultimately they all end up as Security Guards with private security agencies for a paltry salary of Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 15,000/- per month. After 4 years when they leave the Army they will be getting a customized monthly package of Rs. 40,000/-. Immediately after that they have to settle down for a monthly salary of less than 50% of what they were receiving in the Armed Forces”.

Srikumar said that they may not get all the facilities available for the Ex-serviceman such as ECHS and CSD etc. Pension of course is ruled out since according to the Government to curtail the expenditure on Armed Forces Pension only this decision has been taken. The present decision to recruit youth as soldiers for 4 years period is like recruiting youth as Trade Apprentices for training in the industries. Experience says that these Trade Apprentices are not given proper training and they are being utilized as Contract Labourers for doing cleaning work, loading and unloading work etc. After 2-3 years Apprentice Training these trained boys are not given employment even in Government and Public Sector Industries. Once their training period is over then majority of them doesn’t get job in their trained trade and ultimately settle down in other jobs not relevant to their training. There is a danger of such an exploitation of these Agniveers also in the Armed Forces. We know about the infrastructure and training facilities available in the Army Training Centers. Whether, in the present setup these training centers will be able to give the required training for the soldiers. By throwing out the trained soldiers after their training, is it not going to be a loss to the Government and the Armed Forces and the money and the skill invested on them will go waste. Moreover, who will fill up the gap in the regiments once these youths are terminated. Already there is an acute shortage in the Army since in the name of COVID-19 pandemic recruitment was completely stopped for the past more than 4 years.

He also added that the provision of “fixed term employment” given in the Labour Codes begin with its implementation from the Armed Forces. The impact of these trained youths joining the Civilian population is not being studied. There are going to be sociological and psychological problems in the society. If the country can afford pension to its former Presidents, PMs, Governors, Ministers, CMs, MPs and MLAs etc. the country can very well afford to pay pension to its soldiers for their dedicated and committed service to the country who serves the nation by risking their life. I think the Government instead of doing these type of misadventures in the Defence of the country should strengthen the Armed Forces with regular recruitment of youth permanently, fully equipping them with modern equipment and train them to handle these modern equipment, provide them Social Security Scheme, Old age protection including good medical care etc.

Srikumar sums up by saying that already the decision of Corporatization of Ordnance Factories have become a failure. The highly motivated and talented workforce of Ordnance Factories have become demoralized and de-motivated in this short span of 6 months. They are all permanent Government employees but are worried about their future, since the Government has told the Ordnance Factories to get Work Order by competing with the private sector which is practically impossible. Therefore, these decisions of corporatizing the Ordnance Factories, GOCO Model and Agnipath needs a reconsideration by the Government in the interest of the Defence and national security of our country, without treating such important matters as prestige issues.

Views expressed here are strictly those of C. Srikumar, General Secretary, AIDEF

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