In a short span of a few weeks, with the swiftly receding human security, rising Islamophobia, intolerance, an unparalleled suppression, and excessive use of force against minorities, the Indian society took a nosedive after announcing the military recruitment program under the title of “Agnipath Scheme”. As per the training plan, young Indians within the 17 to 21 years of age group will be inducted into the army as ‘Agniveers’. Those newly recruited soldiers will serve in the armed forces for a short period of 4 years, with the retention of only 25% of the force at the end of the term.
Through this scheme, the government has conveniently shifted from its previous recruitment policy under which newly recruited staff was commissioned to serve at least 17 years before they could retire with a pension. The core reason behind increasing resentment is the perceived loss of safety and security of a government job with a life-long pension, unlike the previous recruitment policy.
Understanding the matter better
A similar training scheme was introduced in Israel that aimed to train its population to have a strong foothold amongst the surrounding Arab nations. It is unfortunate that India today, practically being ruled by the radical Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ideology, is moving swiftly towards a Hindu majoritarian state. The influence of the RSS is evident from Mohan Bhagwat’s statement when he said, “Sangh will prepare military personnel within three days which the Army would do in 6-7 months. This is our capability. Swayamsevak will be ready to take on the front if the country faces such a situation”. The noticeable increase in RSS’ influence on the state policies is therefore evident. With regards to the Agnipath Scheme, protests have erupted across the country that highlights the severe resentment of the population towards this scheme.
Most countries in the world have adopted such recruitment plans, however, it seriously undermines the morale and the spirit of the military personnel serving in the armed forces. The lack of safety nets is another issue that questions the professionalism of the Indian armed forces. The unemployment rate for people 15 years and above, in urban areas, has already reached 8.2% in January-March 2022 in India. So, such schemes will create more unemployed people in a society where there is already a rising tide of the unemployed young population.
Moreover, coercive domestic policies such as the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), the religious coercion, and rising unemployment, the current destabilizing trends appear to be a recipe for disaster within the Indian social fabric, where people would take up arms for violence. Under the garb of a so-called training program for the youth, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seems to have heinous plans. Along with its radical wing of RSS, the radicalization of the society to achieve socio-political gains can be one objective. It could be done so by terrorizing the minorities. Not just this, the 35000 soldiers after four years, would be well trained to be the front-line terrorists of the BJP government.
Unfortunately, the Modi’s Hindu nationalism has plans to institutionalize and consolidate its power through its policy of terrorizing and intimidating the minorities, particularly Muslims. Taking a leaf out of Israel’s book of conscription soldiers, who are trained to use excessive and unjustified force against the innocent Palestinians, a similar pattern of action can be expected in India which has a history of belligerence.
There have been disturbing developments in India over the past few weeks, indicating that India is on the path of going through a major change that will transform society permanently. It will have a long-term impact and the brunt would be faced by the minorities, especially Muslims as RSS bigotry primarily targets them. The more politicized the Indian army becomes the more it will weaken. The problem will have a spillover effect on other areas as well which need attention.
The writer is a researcher at Strategic Vision Institute (SVI), Islamabad. She tweets @ZukhrufAmin. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space (GVS News).