Mysore/Mysuru: Maintaining that the Centre’s ‘Agnipath’ Army Recruitment Scheme is neither effective nor productive from any point of view, Maj. Gen.(Retd) S.G. Vombatkere urged the Centre to drop the scheme in the better interests of the country.
He was speaking on the topic ‘The Dangers of Agnipath Scheme’ at the ‘Jai Jawan-Jai Kisan’ Conference organised by Samyukta Karnataka – Horata as part of Quit India Movement Day at the Institution of Engineers on JLB Road here on Tuesday (Aug. 9).
Pointing out that as per the provisions of Agnipath Scheme, 60,000 young soldiers will be recruited every year with a service period of just 4 years, Vombatkere said that it is concerning to note that 75 percent of these soldiers will be out of jobs after four years.
Wondering how we can take on our hostile neighbours such as China and Pakistan if there are less number of soldiers, he reiterated that the Agnipath Scheme was not in the interests of the country.
Stating that recruitment under the Scheme has already started, Vombatkere wanted the Government to consider this as a pilot project and to revert back to the old system of Army recruitment, which he said was a better option to strengthen our military ranks.
Recalling the day (Dec. 10, 1962) when he took oath while joining military service which was administered by the then President of India Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, Vombatkere said he remains committed to the oath even today.
KRRS President Badagalapura Nagendra, in his address, said that a mass movement sans any leader will take shape in the country for bringing about real changes in the country’s administration.
Maintaining that there was no difference between the current Modi administration and the rule of Britishers in the past, he said that while the British divided the society on caste and region lines, the Modi Government is dividing the society by promoting communalism, capitalists and fascist forces.
Accusing Prime Minister Modi of having little respect for the Constitution, he said that the movement is aimed at driving out the current dispensation, just as the Quit India Movement was launched decades ago to drive out the British.
KRRS office-bearers Hosur Kumar and Kempugowda, Trade Union leaders Balajirao, Devadas, Chandrashekar Meti, farmer leader Jagadish Surya, PUCL District President P. Kumar and others were present.
It is easy to criticize any policy decision without knowing the bigger picture. Over so many years and across so many governments from different parties, the policy makers have been advising Armed Forces to reduce the burden of pension bill on the exchequer but no concrete suggestion was put forth. Instead with very many newer policies it has been only increasing. The common pressure being giving that give soldiers their due and rightly so. But at the same time it cannot be an endless ever growing expenditure. The present dispensation running the government has been bold enough to take a decision, good or bad time will tell.
This Agnipath is a great initiative. Given the ratio of retention vs discharge(1:3), I see this initiative as more of a rigorous paid training of our youth to make them more employable and attractive to the employers. This is truly tranformational and forms an essential part of ‘Skilling India’ programme. India is not suffering from the issue of unemployment but a vast majority of our youth are unemployable and unattractive to the major industries/enterprises. They seriously lack essential qualities employers are after ie ideal combination of skillsets and mindset eg. technical, vocational, operational, self management, discipline, determination, focus, aptitude, physical fitness and soft skills. Without a doubt, this Agnipath will fill that big void that exists in this space of training the youth and transforming the masses. Youth can not get this type of training even if they shell out hundreds of thousands of rupees/dollars.
This begs another question. Is it the responsibility of the Defence forces to train people for employment in PSUs and the Private Sector? Certainly NOT. Nonetheless this Government is trying to correct the loss due to negligence and blunders committed by the previous Governments by ignoring youth development and hence the plea to the Defence forces to help out in building up our youth force in quick time. A kind of damage control measure.
Previous governments never identified up-skilling our youth as a priority, never invested any time, money or resources in that direction. Things simply drifted along at its own pace. There was no concerted effort. At least now that realisation has come it is high time to train our youth to leverage the youth power and ensure the demographic dividend before the opportunity is lost. Defence forces must help out the Government in this corrective course of action in addressing the situation before it gets too late. This is in many ways similar to our Army helping out in emergencies and natural disasters such as floods and earthquake. This is a similar emergency not so visible as an earthquake or flood but a silent erosion and waste of demographic resources due to poor utilisation of our manpower as a consequence of lack of investment in youth development in the past.
The training programme must be structured such that it should discourage rivalry(particularly in 3rd and fourth years) and encourage camaraderie and collaboration which is at the core of any defence forces. Psychologists and organisational behaviour specialists can help develop, embed/integrate this critical message in the training programme. Secondly the message should be driven home that Government is committed to up-skilling each and every candidate to ensure they reach their highest potential be it within the armed forces or outside. This Agnipath is a spring board to all those who are deprived of development opportunities due to financial impediments.This message must be communicated and broadcast through a massive information dissemination campaign.
Moreover, the scheme is already integrating an option for a University degree in association with IOU. I am sure all of them will become highly employable and most sought after employees at the end of the programme.
For that matter, not all the candidates who take to the programme/scheme may want to pursue it for the rest of their life. They may decide that it is not for them. Four year term gives them an exit strategy. Only the very keen will go further and that is exactly what is in the best interest of the candidates as well as defence forces. These days no one has a job for life and every one will have at least 4-6 job changes on an average in their career spanning 40 years. But the life skills acquired during the programme are universal and applicable to any career one may choose to take up and guarantees their success.
There must be robust placement programme for those Agniveers leaving the programme, in order to find suitable alternative placements both in the private and government sector and match the needs of employers with the attributes of Agniveers. Even a data base/platform similar to Linkedin that is open to all Agniveers and employers alike to form a network will go a long way. Many major industries such as Mahindra, TATAs, L&T have all endorsed this scheme and offered to welcome these well trained Agniveers with open arms.
If I were to be an employer and choose between an Agniveer and from the open pool, I would prefer an Agniveer, for the sole reason of discipline and physical fitness they bring in. If one has discipline all other skills can be learnt on the job. I am sure those 30000 Agniveers discharged every year will be sold like hot cakes. 30,000 is a drop in the ocean when it comes to the manufacturing sector(they will absorb it all) and Atma-Nirbhar Bharart programme. Skilling India, Atma Nirbhar Bharat and Agnipath are all programmes complementing each other. I am perplexed at the fact that some of the commentators on the social media see discharged Agniveers as fit only for becoming security guards. What an appalling and short sighted view. Nothing could be farther from the truth; Agniveers are much much more capable than that.
At the end of the day, this is a voluntary programme/scheme. If the youth are not smart enough to see the trees from the woods and not able to appreciate the merits and benefits and leverage the scheme to their advantage as well, they need not take it up. Choice is theirs.
This Maj. Gen.(Retd) S.G. Vombatkere is a non-Mysoreans who with people like Barmy Shenoy and others flooded into Mysore, causing the deforestation to give plots for fools like him. Since, then he crops up every now and then, talking sheer crap. He was after all not a fighting soldier, but a civil engineer who built unsafe roads at the borders with China , where many soldiers perished travelling in vehicles like jeeps which skidded , often, thanks to the poor skills of the engineers like this idiot. One of my friends died and his family still blame blame engineers like t this fool for the unsafe road constructed.
He is part of that lunatic outfit called MGP-the Grahachara entity which is utterly crap.