Agnipath scheme may compromise national security, warns Priyank Kharge

KPCC spokesperson and former minister Priyank Kharge (R) addressing media at Aiwan-e-Shahi Guest House in Kalaburagi on Sunday, June 19, 2022.

KPCC spokesperson and former minister Priyank Kharge (R) addressing media at Aiwan-e-Shahi Guest House in Kalaburagi on Sunday, June 19, 2022. | Photo Credit: Arun Kulkarni

Terming the Agnipath a ‘compromise on national security’, Karnataka Pradesh Congress spokesperson and former minister Priyank Kharge said the scheme would place India in a weaker position against its adversaries.

“As per the scheme announced on Thursday, around 46,000 young personnel would be recruited for Indian defence staff including Army, Navy and Air Force for four years on a contract basis. They would be given training for six months before being commissioned. As per the experienced military officers and defence experts, a soldier has to under rigours training for at least seven years to be battle-ready,” Mr. Kharge said at a media conference at Aiwan-e-Shahi Guest House in Kalaburagi on Sunday.

India has been facing two-front threats from Pakistan and China with which it has shared its long borders. Posting poorly-trained soldiers recruited under Agnipath along these sensitive borders may prove costly for India as it places India in a weak position against its adversaries,” he said.

Impact on performance

Referring to the defence experts who took exceptions to the scheme, Mr. Kharge said that the short-term job on a contract basis would tend to negatively impact the commitment and preparedness of soldiers which would, in turn, affect the performance of the defence forces.

“When you are on a short-term job, you won’t take risks. You think of leaving the current job shortly and searching for the next one. You would be overwhelmed with an uncertain future. Such a mindset of soldiers would be dangerous for security forces posted on the sensitive places,” Mr. Kharge said.

Lack of seriousness

Questioning the very way the scheme was announced in a hurry “without any consultation with stakeholders”, Mr. Kharge termed the scheme as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s latest “masterstroke” which would jeopardise the Indian security system and destroy the futures of youth, just as the demonetisation, the first masterstroke, had had devastated the Indian economy.

“During the Budget Session of the Parliament in March and April this year, the Union Government had, in its response to a question, said that there would be no recruitment to the defence forces at present. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence that met subsequently also did not discuss the recruitment issue that was not on the agenda.  Now, the government has announced the Agnipath Scheme all-of-a-sudden. It shows the government’s arbitrariness, indifference and lack of seriousness in serious defence matters,” Mr. Kharge said.

Avoiding payment of pension

Mr. Kharge held that the Union Government had introduced Agnipath just to avoid paying pension to permanent defence staff after their retirement.

“₹5.25 lakh crores was the total outlay for defence in 2022-23 budget and, of which pension payments accounted for ₹1.20 lakh crore. To avoid this huge amount going in the form of pension, the government has come up with Agnipath. As per the official information, over 8.72 lakh posts in the Union Government are lying vacant for the last several years and 2.5 lakh of them are in the defence forces. As per the CMIC report, 45 crores of unemployed youth have given up job-searching. Instead of addressing the unemployment problem, the Modi government is worsening it with the schemes like Agnipath,” he said.

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Printable version | Aug 17, 2022 4:44:11 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/agnipath-scheme-may-compromise-national-security-warns-priyank-kharge/article65542458.ece