Agnipath: No nation or its army is better than its soldiers

Every nation needs an army of committed professionals, not just to go to war but to keep the nation safe and its borders secure

IANS Photo
IANS Photo

Sujata Anandan

The scheme is guaranteed to render India a nation without an army where only rogues run riot and our borders go unprotected. Famous World War II US General George Patton had once said, “The soldier is the army, no army is better than its soldiers.” To which one might add, no nation is better than its army. So, raising battalions of soldiers fit only for jobs as plumbers or security guards is very dangerous for the country and the Modi government is playing with fire with its Agnipath scheme wherein young boys and girls will be recruited for only four years and then turned loose with no support systems or anchor for the rest of their lives. Young men seek to join the army for several reasons – family tradition, patriotism or simply pure employment. Being a soldier gives them a sense of worth and a feeling of belonging that no other profession can. Every nation needs an army of committed professionals, not just to go to war but to keep the nation safe and its borders secure.

Rendering soldiers as temporary employees of the army will not only just demoralise the army but also demotivate the men from acting in the best interests of the nation. It is both political sophistry and chicanery to say Agniveers will benefit with a huge sum at the end of four years of service. Given the rate of inflation in the country and the inability of the government to resurrect the economy, how far would 12-odd lakh rupees go to keep their shirts on their backs and families fed for the rest of their lives? What the scheme is likely to do is turn out rogues with highly sought-after military skills who will then be recruited as private militia by local dons, politicians and others.

No citizen in this country will be safe against the invasion of their rights and freedoms by such militia and given how the police in many states have turned rogues in uniform, we would only be adding some more men out of uniform to the battalion of hooligans and outlaws that already dominate and trouble large sections of the people in different parts of the country. Soldiers are meant to be the guardian angels at our gates and ensure we sleep safely at nights. The government is now making sure we will always have to look over our shoulders and watch out against the Agniveers, for they are not going to be content with being just harmless security guards or plumbers once they are deprived of the means of a comfortable existence as provided by the army. The question also to be asked is if these Agniveers will in those four years put their lives on the line to protect our borders, our freedoms and our country when a future out of the army holds little for them and their families.

One will be unable to blame them for seeking any kind of employment where they find it. Those entrepreneurs who, under government pressure, are promising to employ these retired Agniveers in their businesses firstly are unlikely to offer them the pay and perks the army would. But, more importantly, there are hundreds of retired army personnel out there seeking jobs and none of these entrepreneurs have so far considered any of these former soldiers worth any employment. So, their word is no good to the Agniveers. Hence, soon we will have either rogue Agniveers running riot across the country or no soldiers at all as they seek more permanent jobs elsewhere. India then will be a nation without an army. And a nation without an army is like a heaven without a god where only devils may rule.

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