Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, on June 14, set out a policy called Agnipath, or “path of fire,” an overhaul of recruitment for India’s 1.38 million-strong armed forces, looking to bring down the average age of personnel and reduce pension expenditure.
But the decision sparked protests across the country on Thursday as the angry crowds set an office of the country’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on fire. Hundreds of youths attacked railway infrastructure and blocked roads as the backlash continued for a second day on Friday, after which the government tweaked some of the rules.
But according to Reuters, top defence officials on Sunday said the government would start enrolment under the new military recruitment plan despite protests.
Fidato, a well-followed Twitter analyst, analysed the Agnipath Scheme’s impact in a detailed thread. It said, “One of the key points in Agnipath scheme is the ‘All India All Class Recruitment.’ It’ll have an everlasting impact on the character which has defined Indian Army.”
India has introduced the ‘Agnipath Scheme’ for recruitment of contractual soldiers in Armed Forces. After completing a term of four years, 75% of recruits, known as Agniveers, will be discharged from service.
Let's analyse the impact of Agnipath scheme in this detailed thread: pic.twitter.com/KapIfApjfg
— Fidato (@tequieremos) June 22, 2022
To comprehend this, Fidato highlighted the ethnic, caste, and religious imbalance in the Indian military. It said Sikhs, for example, “have been overrepresented in Army. In the 1965 Indo-Pak War, 45% among senior officers (brigadier and above) were Sikhs but 1984 Operation Blue Star changed the ethos of Indian Army. There were more than 3000 Sikh deserters in about one dozen Indian units.”
“The Commandant of the Sikh Regimental Centre in Ramgarh, Brig. S.C. Puri, and his two deputies, Col. Jagdev Singh and Col. H.S. Cheema, were attacked, leading to Brig. Puri’s deaths. As a result of this mutiny, the induction of Sikhs in the Indian Army has been curtailed.”
It said Sikhs constitute 8% of total strength in the Army, being 1.4% of the total population. But, Muslims, who comprise 13% of India’s population, are just 2% in the Army. There are no Muslim regiments, and their exact figure is 29,093.
“Out of the 2.87 lakh jawans inducted by Army from 2010 to 2013, 15% came from Punjab, Haryana, and Uttaranchal, despite their total number account for 5% of India’s population. Whereas Bihar, Bengal, and Gujarat provided just 14% of the recruitment, albiet their total number is 30% of India’s population.
“After the Agnipath Scheme, this imbalance will further expand. The annual intake into Army is about 65 thousand soldiers per year.”
Another critical issue Fidato said was training. “There are two Artillery Centres in India with a maximum capacity of 4000 soldiers in each. The new scheme will double the number of trainees. Gunners normally go through six months of basic military training and six months as a Gunner.”
“Agniveers would be deployed in field after six months of training. In such a time constraint environment, the training centres would yield a highly incompetent lot. Also, why would an Agniveer give his life when he has to retire after 4 years with no pension?”
Thirdly, it said these Agniveers will be thrown into a society “where over 45 crore Indians have stopped looking for jobs.” It said, “Muslims are facing an impending genocide. Three years into Modi’s first term, a research report found that 97% of all cow-related violence in India came after he was elected.”
We already know that the RSS, which is the largest Neo Nazi group have a strong belief that Muslims and other minorities are an ‘Internal threat’ to India. RSS has an estimated 1.5 – 2 million regular participants in its nearly 57,000 shakhas across 36,293 locations nationwide… pic.twitter.com/caaO4I9kjA
— Fidato (@tequieremos) June 22, 2022
“We already know that the RSS, which is the largest Neo Nazi group, have a strong belief that Muslims and other minorities are an ‘Internal threat’ to India. RSS has an armed dedicated militia of 600,000. Now its militia will have well trained Agniveer soldiers to wreak havoc against the minorities.”
Fidato said Indian parliamentarian Mahendra Singh Solanky (BJP) has already clarified his party’s intentions. “He is asking Agniveers to defend India against Adharmis.”
— Mahendra Singh Solanky (@MahendraForBJP) June 17, 2022
It said nearly 38 out of 53 ministers in Modi’s government, almost 75%, hail from RSS, adding that the “Sangh Parivar has nefarious plans for Agniveers.”
It said that 54% of India’s total defense budget of over Rs5.25 crore had been allocated to ex-servicemen’s pension and salaries.
“The Indian Navy has 130 ships when they are eyeing a 200-ship navy. Indian Army is already short of 1,00,000 soldiers.”
Lastly, Fidato questioned whether the Agnipath Scheme solves the predicaments of the Indian Armed Forces or is it a recipe for disaster? “We’ll see that in the next few years.”