"Agnipath "recipe for disaster" owing to duality of privileges enjoyed by "Agniveers" and Sepoys

  • | Friday | 24th June, 2022

New Delhi, Jun 24 (PTI) Calling the "Agnipath" scheme "a big betrayal" with the youth of the country, former Congress MP Manvendra Singh Friday said it was a "recipe for disaster" given the duality of privileges enjoyed by an "Agniveer" inducted for short-term service and the Sepoy in regular employment in the armed forces.Singh, the chairman of the Rajasthan Sainik Board, also claimed the delay in the appointment of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), seven months after the death of incumbent Gen Bipin Rawat, and the expansion of the pool from which the CDS will be picked, showed the government"s lack of confidence in the serving generals. He asserted the new recruitment scheme will not only disturb the regional balance in the armed forces but also lead to problems of cohesion within the units."The duality of privileges prevailing in the unit is a sure recipe for disaster. Because, in a combat situation, in any routine duties when there is a difference of status, difference of pay, perks and allowances between two soldiers doing the same duties, it is a very dangerous situation and a sure disaster," he said."There will be two types of soldiers, majority of whom have fixed jobs and old salary system, and the new Agniveers who will neither have that kind of salary nor leave or medical facilities. In a combat unit, during war, having two types of soldiers can never be successful as there is a big difference between them. I fear that this will affect the cohesion of the unit," Singh said.He said Agnipath was a political decision as it was not formulated by a soldier, and claimed the armed forces were not in its favour.He voiced concern over the the post of the CDS lying vacant since Rawat"s death in an air crash. The government, Singh noted, has expanded the pool from which the CDS will be picked, but has not been able to decide on who will occupy the post.The former Army officer said with the expansion of the pool 200 officers are eligible for the job of the CDS. This, he alleged, shows the government does not have confidence in the existing two-three generals."If they were of the right calibre, then the government would not have to increase the pool of selection. The fact that the selection pool had to be increased means that there is a lack of confidence or, as the veterans keep remarking, that the govt wants to play a deep selection role, and find a suitable like-minded CDS....and this is not in the interest of the country and is harmful for the armed forces," he said. Singh said the Congress demands an immediate roll back of the "Agnipath". "The silence of the prime minister is an insult to the youth fighting for their due rights," he said, terming the Agnipath scheme "ill-conceived" that will create fresh problems for national security without solving those already existing. Singh said widespread street protests against the scheme destroyed government property worth Rs 1,000 crore.The Congress leader said any reform has to be transparent and not imposed surreptitiously, and never at the cost of opportunities for the youth.He said 50,000 youth had been selected after physical and medical tests and they only had to take a written examination before being inducted into the defence forces, but now their entire recruitment process stood cancelled.He said it is not known how many candidates from which state will be selected under the new scheme and the quota of recruitment from each state will get disturbed.He wanted to know whether the government had thought about unit cohesion in an environment where Agniveers will be serving alongside Sepoys who enjoy secure pensions and more generous benefits and allowances, including three times as much leave entitlement. PTI SKC SKC SK

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