Agnipath: An omen of burgeoning chauvinism ?
MODI government recently announced short-term recruitment scheme in Indian army seems a capricious move probably driven by the dreams of regional hegemony.
As claimed by Indian Ministry of Defence, this scheme is primarily aimed at injecting diverse tech savvy juveniles in the army to make it a bit modern.
However, Agnipath most likely to be part of a larger agenda that raised reasonable concerns of political and religious based exploitation within India as well as possibility of the misuse of trained Agniveers for fuelling insurgency and anarchy in rival countries.
Protests outburst across India since this new recruiting scheme was advertised. Juvenile are more concerned with the insecurity of the jobs in an era of massive unemployment as Modi government failed to deliver on economic front as it promised; therefore has to rely merely on exploiting religious and ethnic diversities to prolong its rule.
Protest turned violent as Indian army denied to take back this recruitment scheme, there were fears that protesters may attack the Indian Parliament and Prime Minister House.
Delhi remains on high alert in this chaotic situation.Indian government announced 10% reservation in central government jobs for the Agniveers who had served four years in Indian army, but this move couldn’t pacify the protesters yet.
World’s leading western economies that had just started to recover from the destructive effects of corona pandemic are facing the blows of Russia-Ukraine conflict that led to increased prices of petroleum products worldwide, especially in Europe.
How this scheme Agnipath is going to help India economically is hard to grasp if the move is basically aimed at slashing the growing burden of perks and privileges of the permanent employment.
Economists view this move as only adding to the existing massive unemployment besides the risk of the falling the unemployed trained Agniveers in the hands of drug peddlers, crime cartels and terrorist organizations.
Another question also raised by the former military experts is that whether Agniveers will have same commitment and passion with the army like permanent employees?
Job insecurity and fear of unemployment after four years service would not distress them? Would they be ready to obey the orders despite knowing the future of their employment?
Chaotic situation in the post advertisement scenario of the short-term recruitment is one aspect of the issue.
The other aspects of it like political exploitation domestically and misuse of trained force regionally are more concerning and generate serious apprehensions.
Political pundits are hinting on the possibility of the political exploitation of the Agniveers once they are well trained and unemployed after serving the four years of service.
BJP has a history of exploiting the anti-Pakistan and religious sentiments. Voices are being raised against the Agnipath scheme within India as well and many consider it as a plan to train the RSS to strengthen the future endavours of the BJP that is planning to prolong its rule in India pursuing Hindutva ideology.
Former Indian Director General of Military Operations Lieutenant General Vinod Bhatia (Retd) termed the Agnipath scheme regressive and unnecessary and viewed that the Agniveers would be risk averse.
Jawhar Sircar, renowned former Indian administrative service officer and prominent public intellectual of India opined that Agnipath add to the Modi’s list of inglorious blunders.
Minorities in India, especially Indian Muslims, are facing the worst sort of oppression in one or the other way since Modi’s rise to power.
There are countless incidents of vandalism and mob lynching, especially against Muslims. Ban on Hijab and Adhan, blasphemous remarks of BJP leadership are the recent incidents of rising hatred in India.
Minorities in India, especially Indian Muslims fear that Agnipath in the long run might be the plan of Muslims genocide in the hands of trained workers of RSS.
Many renowned politicians had been witnessed publically speaking about genocide of Muslims or their forced conversion to Hinduism.
Another angle of viewing the Agnipath is strategic realignments in the milieu of US policy of China containment.
The question raises that can India be planning to train its youth for future possible war in the region?
Question also raises that whether China-India standoff also known as Doklam Standoff be impetus of this move?
Whether India has a fear of possible external invasion from China and therefore planning for a resilience at mass level?
Being part of US-led QUAD, introduction to this short-term recruitment scheme Agnipath by India would certainly raise valid concerns in China.
Similar move if reciprocated by the regional countries, especially China, would raise alarm in the West, especially in the Quad countries.
Pakistan should also be more concerned with Agnipath as there are numerous negative aspects related to it.
Indian efforts for demographic change in IIOJK in blatant violation of UN resolutions are not hidden, they are settling Hindus in the valley.
Are they planning to use Agniveers in the same context? Indian interference in Balochistan is also a fact, arrest of Kulbhushan Jadhav is it’s vivid example.
Question is that can India be planning to use Agniveers for fueling insurgency in the neighboring countries?
Can India be planning to exploit the situation in Afghanistan that has been abandoned by the international community after coalition forces withdrawal?
Nothing can be ruled out when it comes to India as they always dreamt for absolute power in the region.
Agnipath certainly cannot be limited to merely shedding some extra burden of Indian defence budget, it certainly is a move that has multi internal and regional dimensions that need to be studied minutely.
Though Indian army denied taking back the Agnipath despite violent protests across India, but Modi government will ultimately have to kneel before protesters if situation protracts.
Concerns of the unemployed youth are quite compelling in the prevailing mass unemployment and poverty stricken circumstances of India.
In any case, regional countries especially Pakistan needs to keep very closer look on Indian move and its possible strategic and security related consequences.
Realignments in the region and show of military might on the issue of South China Sea are realities that have potential of transferring into large scale conflict.
—The writer is Islamabad based media analyst and quasi columnist.