New Delhi: Captain Bana Singh (retd), who played a central role in recapturing a critical post from the Pakistani Army in Siachen in 1987 and was awarded a Param Vir Chakra for his bravery, has spoken out against the Agnipath scheme.
In a now-deleted tweet, Captain Singh said, “Save the country, Agnipath scheme will badly damage us, India is going through a crucial stage. Youngsters are the future of our motherland. 🇮🇳🙏🏼”
Speaking to ThePrint, Captain Singh said, “There should have been more debate and discussion before bringing in the scheme. It makes little sense to bring such sweeping changes without engaging all stakeholders. However, now we must wait and watch how the scheme takes effect.”
Talking about the now-deleted tweet, he said, “Consider it cancelled. I have said what I had to”.
Criticism and protests against the scheme have centered around the sweeping changes introduced to recruitment policies in the armed forces below officer rank. Concerns have mostly been related to job security and the strict age eligibility criteria.
The central government, on its part, has brought in a host of changes and policies to assuage these concerns and ensure job security for the short-term recruits.
Voices for and against Agnipath
Besides Captain Singh, many other retired military personnel have also talked about the scheme, with some speaking for and others against the changes.
Lt General Vinod Bhatia (retired), former director-general of Military Operations (DGMO), said, “Agnipath causes undue turbulence, will need good transition management. Government should ensure that aspirations of Agniveers are met, and there is no adverse impact on combat effectiveness.”
Agnipath causes undue turbulence, will need good transition management. Government should ensure that aspirations of Agniveers are met and there is no adverse impact on combat effectiveness. https://t.co/nqLCGD7p6B
— Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia Retd (@Ptr6Vb) June 21, 2022
Lt. General H.S. Panag (retired) wrote in ThePrint that the scheme, in theory, is good. However, the government must remain open to ideas to improve it further.
Former Air Vice Marshal Manmohan Bahadur has argued that the scheme is a radical departure from the methodologies used by the Indian Army for over two centuries, and decades by the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy. Any change, he suggests, should have been done in incremental steps and stages.
Former Chief of the Naval Staff, Arun Prakash, has said that the scheme will be difficult to implement in unison for the tri-services. He wrote, “in its present form, is suitable only for the army, whose large infantry component is not excessively burdened with technology. In case of the navy and air force, it must be recognised that at least 5-6 years are required before a new entrant can acquire enough hands-on experience to be entrusted with the operation or maintenance of lethal weapon systems and complex machinery and electronics”.
Former Chief of the Army Staff, V.P. Malik, has vehemently defended the scheme, saying it is “pragmatic and beneficial for the army”.