Nov 17, 2022 in Communications

Future Tragedy of 'Agni Soldiers' : A Review of AHNIPATH

The present paper debates around the introduction of "Agnipath," which prompted considerable criticism, is the result.

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The Contract Labor Act was first introduced in 1970 with the intention of regulating and outlawing contract labour in specific establishments and circumstances that were deemed to be hardly necessary for the wellbeing of workers nationwide[1]. However, the majority of government employment in the industrial and service sectors (banking, teaching, research, transportation, Indian Army, etc.) are currently filled on a contract basis, which has a significant impact on the lives of those in the lower and middle classes. As a result, the text that follows discusses the current controversy surrounding the introduction of "Agnipath," which sparked widespread outcry.
The Central Government announced the project "Agnipath" as a revolutionary project on 14.06.2022, the historic decision of the Cabinet Committee on Defense. The "Agnipath" programme seeks to enlist young people between the ages of 17.5 and 21 as soldiers in the army on a contract basis for just 4 years following a 6-month training period. The recruits will be referred to as "Agni Soldiers" they will start out with a salary of Rs.30,000 and work their way up to Rs 40,000 in the last year. After serving for 4 years, only 25 percent of them are accepted as permanent members of the army. The remaining 75 percent will be dismissed. They won't receive pension benefits like other army personnel do. In addition to the sum previously withheld from their pay, including the sum paid by the government, 12 lakhs will be granted in the name of Seva Nidhi. Out of a total budget of 5.26 lakh crore, 1.20 lakh crore was spent on the pension costs for three armies. From the total budgetary allotment, 48.8% will be paid to the military as wages and pensions. The security Cabinet Committee claims that by using the Agnipath contract system in the army to modernise the military, we can save costs[2].
  Even though it is touted as a great opportunity for national service and to bolster and modernise the Indian army, the scheme itself sparks opposition from young people in India. In particular, with a hope of youngsters entering the Indian army, the protests across the nation are moving in a number of directions. A total of 18 states, including Telangana, including Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Bihar, and Rajasthan, are engaged in armed conflict against the "Agnipath" scheme. The trained youngsters from the districts of Vellore, Thiruppatur, Trichy, and Chennai protested as well in Tamilnadu. Additionally, protesters organised a rail strike in numerous states, during which 12 trains were set ablaze. About 300 trains were cancelled as a result of this protest, the railway suffered losses of more than one billion, and the Indian police detained more than 700 youths. The Agnipath system places the 21-year-old in an unstable living situation by converting 15 years of military service into 4 years of temporary contract work. And in the states where demonstrations against the Agnipath project are erupting, unemployment is also high. According to data from the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy's May month report, Bahir's unemployment rate is 13.3, Hariyana's is 24.6, Rajasthan's is 22.2, and Jharkhand's is 13.2. At least a lot of young people want to strategically plan their life by working in the federal or state governments. This Agnipath project disappoints in the face of such hope[2].
Before the end of 2024, the union government promised to add 10 lakh new positions to the central government. Therefore, the government's earlier claim that 10 lakh new employment would be created includes the 1.86 lakh new jobs created via "Agnipath," which are based on contracts. According to Jitendra Singh's speech, Minister of State in the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions of India on March 1, 2020, there are 8.72 lakh open positions. Here, the programme emphasises that by implementing the appointment of contact-based jobs under the promise of initiating 10 lakhs new jobs, the unemployment rate will decrease. According to a declaration, persons who worked for Agnipath will be given preference for positions in the national government, and the states of Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh have pledged to give Agnipath warriors preference for positions in state governments. As a result, it is a programme that, in the name of creating new jobs, permanently eliminates jobs[2].
Youth who receive moral and skill training through this programme will be employable. Players on Agnipath are required to exhibit leadership, teamwork, and physical fitness in addition to offering industry-marketable solutions. However, such workers will be severely abused in terms of working hours and the load of various tasks under corporate leadership. Additionally, armed firefighters may act as thugs against workers who are defending their rights. To control the people who resisted mineral exploitation, the governments of Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, and Odisha gathered some citizens and provided them with weapons under the name "Salvajudom". Therefore, it is highly anticipated that domestic terrorism will be possible to carry out the vision of social evils. Unemployment is a complex issue that could lead to an increase in criminal activity. Because a person who loses a job without any additional assurance of stable employment will eventually turn into a mercenary working against the stability of the country[2]. Therefore, a successful implementation and outcome of the "Agnipath" depend on an effective inspection procedure.

 Reference

Chief Labour Commissioner, "Contract Labour Act", Government of India, Available at: https://clc.gov.in/clc/acts-rules/contract-labour-act, Available on: 15.09.2022
Ravi, 2022, 'Contractism, Cooperative Welfare, Terrorism', Puthiya Jananayagam, Issue:37, Vol: 09, Pp:5-8.

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