Friday, February 3rd, 2023 18:16:34


By Aruna Singh
Updated: July 8, 2022 10:42 am

Fire has two manifestations: Godly that creates,nurtures and sustains; and savage, that destroys and rejoices over the destruction of creations, achievements and accomplishments. The later variety was in stark evidence in many parts of the country, specially Bihar and some parts of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan Haryana and Telangana ostensibly in protest

against the Agnipath scheme which envisages recruitment of a young, amenable and moldable 17 year youth into  men  and women of steely character and purpose who can never fail the country and the society.

The protesters however appeared much beyond the pale of innocent and amenable youth of decent upbringing, they wore the ways of hardened criminals, eager to torch India. They burnt buses, set trains on fire, scorched police stations, looted shops and stoned passengers.

Historically this has been the method of victorious Jihadi armies, communists also believe in similar ways. This meeting of mindsets has brought them together to forge a joint front against India. This joint front operates through the length and breadth of the country, with Kashmir, Kerela and Bengal being their strongholds.They were the architects of Shaheen Bagh, Delhi riots, Tukde-Tukde demonstration and now the arson and loot on specious opposition to Agnipath scheme. They are the fifth columnists within the country who act on the bidding of Pakistan and China.


In Bihar the worst kind of mayhem was witnessed in Patna district in the areas of Pali, Msaurhi and Danapur. This area has been the hotbed of Maoism. In Danapur the miscreants tried to carry out disruptive activities right in the heart of the cantonment. Danapur is also the regional ofheadquarters of the Indian Railways. Several trains in Danapur junction were set on fire, passengers and shops were looted. Such wasthe level of disruption and destruction that normal services have yet not been restored. Today i.e. 23 June the railway has announced cancellation of 238 trains.The other badly affected areas in Bihar were parts of Gaya distirct and Jehanabad.

It may be recalled that in 2005 the Maoists had laid siege to Jehanabad town in the year 2005 and challenged the writ of the state. The said areas in Bihar have been‘legislatively’ recaptured by Maoists by their electoral arm, the CPI(ML) who rely on arson and terror route in pursuit of their brand of politics.About half a dozen candidatesof this over-ground Maoist outfit were successful in the last elections from these very areas with the active support of their ally, the RJD. The MLA who led the assault in Danapur Cantonment and Railway Station represents the Pali constituency. He is a rabid Maoist indoctrinated in the JNU. He has been an active member of the Tukde Tukde gang.  Other parts of Bihar witnessed exactly the same pattern of arson and loot.

The uncanny similarity made it evident that they were orchestrated rather than spontaneous. Hyderabad too was rocked by similar pattern of arson and violence. It may be mentioned that in the Jehanabad siege it were the Maoist cadres from Telangana who were in the forefront. In the mayhem at Hyderabad railway station, the jihadi cadres too had lent their violent weight.

The fact that the CPI (ML) is comprises over- ground Maoists is not lost out on the Indian establishment. For many years they were banned.The ban was lifted once they gave an undertaking that they would abide by the Constitution and repudiate arms. Nevertheless only the methodology has changed, in spirit they remain anti-India terrorists. It is rather far- fetched to expect that this Chinese proxy insurgent political party should demonstrate concern about the well being of the armed forces. It was their comrades who kidnapped aretired jawan from my unit Shyam Kishore Prasad in Jharkhand and demanded a ransom of ten lakh rupees. His brother, Raj Kishore Prasad, a Group Captainand fighter pilot in the Indian Airforce ran from pillar to post like a zombie, met the DGP, the Chief Secretary, but of no avail. He had no option but to pay the ransom before the deadline to recover his brother alive.

The same Maoists had made former Air Chief La Fontaine hostage in his house not once but twice in rural Telangana where he had chosen to lead his retired life. They barged into his house, tied him up in his chair, looted his house and carried away everything including his pistol. He angrily reproached them, saying that they were not revolutionaries but dacoits.The same elements had danced all nightin JNU when 76 soldiers were mowed down by Maoists in Chhattisgarh in 2010, the same elements were in the ‘Bharat Tere Tukde Honge’ demonstration in JNU, and the same elements were the architects of Shaheen Bag.

Their pain is not Agnipath, but their evil design is to subvert the armed forces. They have been at it for very long, more so since 2014, since Modi took over power.They had even set up a BSF jawan to cause revolt in his organisation on an entirely fabricated issue of poor food service.He was subsequently court martialled but as planned he was pitted against Mr Modi in Varanasi as one of the candidates in the Lok Sabha elections in 2019.



Also, protesting against the Agnipath scheme was the Congress party. They indeed majorly fuelled arson and violence all over. Their top leaders made speeches at Jantar Mantar that was music to India’s enemies. One of them said that the scheme will attract youth without character.It is the same anti-India luminary who had questioned the veracity of Batla House encounter and  the integrity and character of our security forces. In a public meeting he had lamented that his leader was inconsolable because of the loss of lives of the jihadis in the encounter. His leader Sonia Gandhi was the one who signed a secret MOU with China in the overbearing presence of Xi Jinpimg. This was at the same time when  the Jamiat-e-Islami (JeI) of Pakistan had signed a similar MOU with China.Her son Rahul Gandhi was seen surreptitiously slipping into the Chinese embassy at the height of Doklam crisis in 2017. Mr Rahul Gandhi had also visited the JNU to express solidarity with the tukde tukde gang.



Another leader, the architect of Hindu terror warned that the Agnipath scheme will lead to militarization of society. Such is background and motivations of the individuals and organisations in forefront of the Agnipath protests with violent and destructive agenda. Unfortunately, there are few veterans of the armed forces, congenitally of negative disposition,  exacerbated the violence by trashing the scheme on the media. These veterans draw pensions from the government which is subject too good and responsible conduct in matters relating to national security. Publicly, questioning the motives of the service chiefs on professional issues amounts to treason.

Earlier, some of these veterans raised an undying clamour for appointment of CDS, castigating the government for neglecting national security. Once Gen Bipin Rawat was appointed, and no sooner the honeymoon period was over,  they launched a vicious tirade against him on social media for purely imaginedreasons which had nothing to do with national security. The worst amongst this dangerous segment is the infamous Chandigarh gang driven by the arms lobby, military power brokers and Khalistanis.

This lobby did not spare Gen Rawat even after his death. They were in absolute sync with the jihadis in their hatred for Gen Rawat who persistently highlighted the growing security concerns about the internal front i.e third front in the country. The jihadis went to the extent of disrupting a memorial service in deference to late Gen Rawat by the wife of a famouslate film actor in Mumbai. She belongs to the oldest and most respected family in the Bollywood.

The jihadis in India miss no opportunity to infiltrate to any protest to give it a violent colour. The Khalistanis are increasingly being driven by the same methods and mindset. The foreign factor is intrinsic to such violent protests. The farmers protest was the meeting ground of all these anti-national forces. The self proclaimed leader of the OROP movement had issueda call for veterans to join the farmers protest but was rebuffed by the patriotic veterans who by then had seen through him and his anti-national agenda.The veterans are surely entitled and welcome to give their constructive suggestions but taking belligerent positions vis-à-vis the armed forces on matters of recruitment, training and operational imperatives certainly cannot be allowed.



There will always be a defence budget,  and in that, there will always be  conflict and debate on Revenue Expenditure versus Capital Expenditure. It is the threat perception, evolving technologies and the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) that dictate the Capital expenditure outlays, as well as the recruitment policies. There is nothing such as Traditional Soldiering and Modern Soldiering. What is always at stake is contemporary soldiering in a given threat environment.  In this regard there are several examples in our context.

For nearly 1300 years all Muslim invasions came through the mountain passes, but 2011 was the first time that the jihadi attack on India(26/11) was through the maritime route thus entailing greater capital expenditure on maritime resources . Similarly with the rapidly increasing use of drones by Pakistan Military backed jihadis in , the unmanned aerial dimension of jihadi threat is the new reality, thereby compelling us to invest adequately on drone and anti-drone systems. As warfare moves into the unmanned platforms domain, it is bound to have corresponding impact on recruitment systems.



Is Agniveer type of recruitment unprecedented? Certainly not. On the onset of World War-II there was an abnormal requirement of manpower, consequently the British rulers raised army of 2.5 million. On culmination of war they were sent home without any pension. Their rehabilitation was a problem that was passed on to the Indian government on transfer of power. The financial condition of fledgling Independent India and the existing threat perception precluded any such exercise.This was the biggest voluntary army ever raised anywhere in the world. One of the reasons for them to get recruited was crushing poverty due to economic exploitation by the British. This was compounded by the British created artificial famine in Bengal. This war also engendered a radical sociological shift with regard to the catchment areas and segments of population for recruitment. Unnerved by  the 1857 War of Independence the British stopped recruiting soldiers from the catchment areas of erstwhile Bengal Presidency. It were the soldiers (Lal Kurtis) from this presidency who fought the Afghan Wars, the Anglo-Gurkha Wars and Anglo-Sikh wars. In 1857 the soldiers of this presidency rose in revolt. The British by then had ingratiated those segments who had suffered defeat at the hands of the Bengal Army, and pitted them against the nationalists. With the help of these forces the British were able to crush the revolt. Out of gratitude and in consonance of divide and rule these very forces were designated as martial races. The bluff of martial races was busted in less than hundred years when the World War 2 broke out and the British faced the crisis of very survival. Then they found martial virtue in every segment of the Indian society, and consequently recruitments became sociologically widespread. Hence it was the threat perception that forced the change in recruitment pattern.

Then in 1962 in the aftermath of the Indo-China war there was major expansion of the Army and Emergency Commission was introduced. Some of these officers were permanently absorbed at the end of five years and rest were sent back without any monetary benefits. This like the World War-II recruitment was an emergency measure. This too was on a voluntary basis. Voluntary responses are based on different human imperatives ranging from psychological to social to economic,  different motivations beingin different proportions. Then Officer Training Academy (OTA) was established in Chennai to train officers in Short Service Commission. The minimum promised tenure was five years. The reason cited for introducing this type of commission was the heavy requirement of officers at Captains and Majors level for career management of permanent commission officers.

This author has served as an instructor in the Officers Training Academy. Initially the retention ratio was less then it went up to more than 80 percent. The term of engagement also increased from five to ten years. Then the authorities felt that there was need for more such OTAs and another one recently came up in Gaya. Till now no veteran during his service period and after showed any concern for post army career and absorption of these Short Service Commission officers who failed to get Permanent Commission. Similarly there were never anysuch concerns raised in respect of women officers who were commissioned for limited periods.

These recruitment schemes unlike World War-IIand post Indo-China War in 1962 are not emergency measures but deliberate ones after due process of study, research, debate, discussions and validations. And yet all human systems are not perfect, they continuously evolve.



Meanwhile, the socio-economic profile of the catchment areas of recruits has undergone tectonic change. This author comes from a village which is 50 kms away from Patna. This village has 24 hours electricity, every house has television and motorcycle, and there are five school buses operating in this village, most adults have mobile phones ranging from Rs.20,000 to Rs.30,000 cost. This is true for 80 percent of Bihar. The youth are much more tech savvy though they may be lacking in graded variety of education. They are much more aware and articulate.Oral medium of information flow has subsumed the written medium. These youth cannot be viewed only through caste and class prism for recruitment and regimentation as the British did.They today need a larger identity and that could be” Agniveer”.

And finally the rationale, philosophy, imperative and objective behind the Agnipath scheme. The aim is : to reduce the average age profile from 32 to reduce revenue expenditure in favour of capital acquisitions; to technologically transform the armed forces in keeping with the imperatives of the rapidly changing battlefield environment, non-traditional objectives of war and interpretations of victory and defeat. The biggest problem that confronts the nation is not employment but employability.There is indeed deficiency of youth who combine talent with character. A boy of 17 is innocent, amenable, adaptable, moldable and fast on uptake.Tothe jawans we need to impart skills that are critical for war.

India today is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. According to the economicsurvey of 2021-2022 India’s ranking with regard to start upsis third, only after US and China .The number of new start ups in 2016 and 2017 was 733 which in five years increased twenty fold i.e. to 14000. It can never be the case that the Agniveers will not be successful in any endeavor. Like the armed forces every organization and enterprise requires loyal, disciplined and talented (in that order) individuals. There is the popular wisdom that if children are handled properly between 16 and 21, they can never go ashtray, and will emerge as responsible and productive members of the family andcitizens of the country.

Today India has a big problem of disoriented youth. In many parts of the country they are extremely susceptible to drug abuse. Large numbers of youth are suffering from psychological afflictions, leading wasteful lives. Narcotics from Pakistan has consumed the youth of Punjab.



The sociological osmosis of Agniveers is likely to be tremendous. Those who will be absorbed in the armed forces will be assets to the armed forces, and those who join other organisations, enterprises and take up other occupations will also be assets to the respective persuasions. In the overall analysis, they all will be national assets.


By Aruna Singh

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