Allegedly | Columns

Satire | Some ideas to improve Agnipath

‘For an ultra-nationalist patriot like me, not having defended my country in Siachen is hard to digest.’

‘For an ultra-nationalist patriot like me, not having defended my country in Siachen is hard to digest.’ | Photo Credit: Getty Images

I have only two regrets in life: turning back just short of the summit while climbing Mt. Everest; and not joining the military when young.

For an ultra-nationalist patriot like me, not having defended my country in Siachen is hard to digest. So I had my hopes pinned on the Jalpath scheme. But it drowned in government lethargy. Then I thought I would enlist when the Vayupath scheme is announced. But that one never took off. When I heard about Agnipath, I thought I’d finally get my chance to join the army and shoot the momos out of the bad guys across the border. Unfortunately, the Agnipath scheme’s upper age limit is 23. So once again, I’ve had to submerge my idli of anticipation in the sambar of disappointment and swallow the  kashayam of frustration.

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But I am not alone. Millions of young patriots feel the same way. Don’t get me wrong — I believe Agnipath is a great scheme. But that doesn’t mean it can’t become greater, or be misunderstood. With Agnipath, both are true: it is misunderstood by youngsters misguided by the weak yet omnipotent Opposition; and it can be improved.

Those opposed to the current version of Agnipath have two complaints: the benefits aren’t comparable to what ‘regular’ recruits of yesteryears got, and uncertainty about post-retrenchment employment.

I have a few extremely humble suggestions that will solve both these problems:

Free petrol, cooking oil and fresh vegetables for life: Agniveers are signing up to put their lives on the line for the country, and in return, they won’t even get pension. So, it’s only fair that we give them  some benefits in kind, and what better than a handy weapon to help them win in the common man’s eternal battle against inflation? The retired Agniveer will feel less like a discard for not having made it to the 25% who got absorbed, when he walks into civilian life and finds he can easily afford petrol, cooking oil and even vegetables.

Free IPL tickets for life: The cricket board has tons of money after the obscene amounts it made at the media auctions. This is the least they can do for our brave jawans.

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A protest against the government’s Agnipath scheme at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi.

A protest against the government’s Agnipath scheme at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. | Photo Credit: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

Private armies: Agniveers who return to civilian life after their four-year stint deserve a chance to put their newly acquired skills to use even outside the military. If corrupt bureaucrats can get a job in private sector post-retirement, why not honest Agniveers? To ensure they get hired, I propose three kinds of entities that should be allowed to raise their own private militias by hiring retrenched Agniveers:

Resident Welfare Associations: In some ways, they are already mini-republics, with a President, Vice President, WhatsApp group, etc., and there’s no reason why they can’t have a standing army too. They can easily afford to pay them a comfortable salary and maintain a well-stocked armoury. Sure, some of them may need to marginally hike the quarterly maintenance charges, but they all do that any way. In case they fall short, they can hike fines for wrong parking by 1,000-2,000%.

Horse-traders: Imagine the amount of money horse-traders would save if, instead of flying MLAs from one corner of the country to another, they could park them in a  gaushala guarded by armed Agniveers? A litre of cow urine costs a fraction of a bottle of single malt. So, the savings on beverage bills alone would be enormous. The only issue here is that the cows already staying in the  gaushala should not object to sharing their living space with politicians.

This column is a satirical take on life and society

Crony capitalists: In a fast-changing business environment where decisions are taken at the speed of thought, time is a luxury. Crony capitalists don’t always have the bandwidth to go through the government every time they urgently need armed muscle to execute their mission statement. Therefore, encouraging them to raise their own private army from retrenched Agniveers will solve three problems at once: the crony capitalist saves time and electoral bond payouts; the Agniveer gets a well-paying job in the corporate sector; the government solves its unemployment problem!

I am confident that with these measures, we can win over every single youngster who protested against the scheme. But there are others, especially from the so-called civil society, who are worried about ‘militarisation of society’ given that so many young ex-army fellows would be roaming around jobless in our midst. I would urge them to focus on the bigger picture. When India suffers a zombie outbreak — which is inevitable, as we all know — we will need every bit of trained military manpower we could lay our hands on. We should be thanking the government for its foresight in providing precisely that by sending thousands of ex-Agniveers back into society every year.

India wasn’t fully prepared for the Coronavirus, but thanks to Agnipath, when the zombie virus strikes, India will have more than enough firepower to take on the walking dead.

The author of this satire is Social Affairs Editor, ‘The Hindu’.

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Printable version | Jul 2, 2022 5:02:09 pm |