After the Union government announced the ‘Agnipath’ scheme for short-term contractual recruitment into the armed forces on June 14, thousands of young aspirants for defence jobs have taken to the streets in protest.
The protestors are all young people who have worked hard over the past 3-4 years to prepare themselves for jobs in the armed forces. However, all-of-a-sudden, the Union government announced a slew of changes to the process – contractual recruitment for a period of four years; no pensions for the ‘Agniveers’; only 25% of them will be absorbed into the Army after the four-year term, and so on.
The announcement sparked off protests in around 16 states and in some places, they even turned violent, with reports of stone-pelting and destruction of buses, trains and other public property being reported from across India.
Several questions arise from the sequence of events – why was the established procedure changed; why were there no prior consultations with the various stakeholders; and importantly, why was this bomb dropped on the aspirants so suddenly?
What does emerge from the incident is a trend. Every time the Union government announces one such sweeping strategy, those who will be affected by the strategy feel that it is against them; they raise objections to it and the government responds by saying that the citizens have not understood its intention and that the strategy is, in fact, for their benefit and the benefit of the entire nation.
In this video, Delhi University professor Apoorvanand and founding editor of the The Wire, Siddharth Vardarajan, attempt to understand how the Modi government devises such strategies and why this trend plays out time and again, from the Citizenship Amendment Act to the farm laws, demonitisation, and beyond.