The 2024 elections are just a year and a half away, and India is already experiencing inflation and heading towards a mild recession. Unemployment is at an all-time high. This is when the ambitious Agnipath scheme was announced by the Centre.
Private sector jobs account for more than 97 per cent of the total jobs provided. In the case of government jobs, the single largest employers are the defence and Railways. While railways recruitment exams are focused on aptitude, the defence Group C exams demand only physical strength. They conduct recruitment rallies in villages, and these become the only hope for not-so-educated or skilled youth to have a chance at a better life.
But the important question here is, are the defence forces some ‘unemployment removal’ campaign from the government? Today’s warfare is all about technology and operators of that technology should be skilled, trained and educated personnel. Holding on to old-style recruitment is halting our modernisation process and with the ever-increasing threat from China, this is the last thing India needs. The Agnipath scheme makes a lot of sense in this context and even the ‘rejected’ 75 per cent will at least get something and there will also be skill training by the arm forces. It is in fact an MGNREGA scheme by the armed forces that helps the youth and helps our forces at the same time.
Aspirations of rural youth
People of rural India don’t have many options, and ‘sarkari naukri‘ is seen as a respectable, reliable profession and way of a better life. To get into or train for defence group C, all one needs is to be proficient in physical exercises like running that do not require any special equipment or fees. A government job is a status symbol. Agnipath does not quite provide that. I think the policy creators are out of touch with the ground reality of so-called Agniveers and their aspirations.
Why we are in this situation? Because we simply failed to modernise ourselves with the world at the pace and speed that was needed. We need urbanisation and more planned new cities, jobs and a better standard of living. The government should be persuasive instead of imposing decisions which the current regime is a sign of strong leadership. It is the duty of the government to peruse people about a policy or scheme before imposing it. Participative administration and taking into account the concerns of the administered should be the paramount duty of executives. This will also help people in swallowing the tough pill of India’s current job situation and manage their own aspirations and expectations.
The author is a student at Maharaja Surajml Institute, Delhi. Views are personal.