JUNE 16, 2022
Congress leader Manish Tiwari has come out in support of the Centre’s brand new recruitment policy for the armed forces, Agnipath, amid protests over its viability across the nation.
Tewari, a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence, said the recruitment policies in the nation were introduced during the British-era and it was time to make changes to the policies to keep up with modern warfare and technology.
Amid apprehensions about the scheme, the Congress MP said, “I absolutely empathise with the young people protesting against the scheme.”
Tewari said the nature of warfare has completely transformed over the last few decades and the armed forces are not an employment guarantee programme.
“In the last three decades, most armed forces have transitioned to a very light footprint on the ground while being very heavy on technology and artillery. In such a situation, if India needs a younger force and ultimately if it requires that its pension bill also comes under manageable limits, reform is necessary,” he said.
Tewari felt that the scheme should be allowed to play itself out. “The glitches can be ironed out,” he said.
However, he said the government needs to provide clarity on what happens post 4.4 years.
“I can understand when someone comes out at the age of 21 or 22, he or she will be apprehensive about the future. So there should be clarity on further employment,” he said.
Going against his party’s opinions, Tewari said, “Without going into judgment, I would like to take you to how the armed forces were set up. Earlier, there were only three divisions and only upper-class Hindus were inducted. It is during the first war of independence in 1857 when the sepoys of the Bengal army were involved, the Britishers coined the martial race theory and identified 15 castes that were faithful to them and started inducting them into the army.”
“Most of these troops were from the north. By the end of World War II, there was heavy recruitment from the north of India. We tried to fix this anomaly by bringing in the recruitable population policy,” he said.
“Given these circumstances, continuing with paradigms set by imperialists for ulterior motives would be irrelevant in the 21st century,” said Tewari.