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Caught in the vortex of a laggard democracy.  

“For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction” – Newtons third law of  motion.  

It may seem that Isaac Newton’s laws of motion are not relevant only to the  world of Physics. They are equally valid elsewhere too, especially in vibrant  democracies and more so in Indian political environment. For every step and a  half taken towards progress there are always opposing forces to push it down by  at least a step. We must note that “the only permanence in this world is  change”.  

In a democracy, it takes a lot of courage for the Government of the day to bring  in progressive reforms, which apparently do not yield visible immediate results,  for fear of losing votes and thus power. Nations cannot make progress when  policies are tuned to please an electorate or some sections of the society  instantly. Take for instance the never growing up white elephant of reservations,  a child of discrimination. Increased empowering and progressive reduction in  reservations, a more viable approach to inclusion and societal advancement, are  never on the table for consideration.  

This creates a doubt, whether India can ever progress economically and socially  at the required speed to catch up with the developed world, in an environment  of political play as currently practiced in the largest and most diverse  democracy. Where Governments are put into power by a system of secret ballot,  it is but natural that the primary aim of political parties will be to create a loyal  and dedicated voter base. The aspect is more pronounced in large democracies  as is evident with a bipolar political dispensation in USA – Democrats and  Republicans. India is different where the division of voter base is multipolar,  because of the much touted diversity in the Nation which, ironically, is projected  as a strength. The voter bases in India are dispersed by caste, religion,  language, sects and parochialism. This is most definitely a regressive  phenomenon that impedes progress.  

As a direct consequence, whenever any government introduces new policies,  what we see from the opposition is only reactions and no responses. As  reactions we see protests and riots, mostly sponsored by elements with vested  interests, and very little or no measured response. This has been the case since  a few decades. It just can’t be that Governments do not think through the  effects before forming policies. Polices can’t be formed considering reactions of  vested interests and sections of societies. We the people have to realise this and  not let us be used as pawns in a power game.  

As an illustration for making my point, let us examine the recent burning (pun  intended) current topic of “Agnipath”  

For instance, the only tweaking done to the original scheme of “Tour of Duty” is  increasing the upper age limit from 21 to 23years, to accommodate those who  missed the recruitment opportunities during the two-year period due to the  pandemic. But it has been made out by various opposition parties and some  sections of the media that the policy is being tweaked as a result of the  unfortunate and misguided agitation. Announcements of accommodation of 

retired” agniveers” by various ministries, corporates and states were and are  only follow up actions and not a part of the scheme and there is a period of four  plus years before the first Agniveer will “retire” before these “promises” can  come into fruition.  

Is it possible to see this scheme of agnipath as a good deal for the youth?  Indications are positive. With the agniveers “retiring’ at 21 to 24 years young,  with about Rs 10-15 Lakhs at the least (total emoluments minus possible  expenses), exposure to different geographies and demographics, inculcated self discipline, on the job skill sets, a 12th pass, award of a degree and possible  avenues for further employment in the Military (25%), para military, state  cadres and corporate is not bad for youth who otherwise may have been  struggling or even languishing, to pursue further studies or (re)start a career.  While in service he/she gets whatever the regular soldier gets. What is displayed  on the streets recently is another misguided reaction by the youth.  

Oh yes, for such a scheme to succeed and not adversely affect the fighting  capabilities of the Armed Forces, there will be much more to be done by the  military, in the areas of people development, physical training, technical  training, induction, on job training in the initial days, allocation of duties in the  units et al. That will not, definitely, be an easy task for various military  commanders (including the langar commander, who may have to, at times,  resort to ordering meals with food aggregators!!!). Definitely, like any new  policies, implementation is key. Are there any valid reasons for any of us to  doubt our armed forces in this regard, notwithstanding the indignant and blaring  ventilation by many veterans? In this fast developing world, an army can’t be  static and frozen in an era of veterans. Past is not the present nor will it be the  future.  

Also read: Days of soft power are over. Defence is the new diplomacy tool for India around the world


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