Union Minister and former Army Chief General V K Singh (retd) on Tuesday attacked the Congress over its opposition to the Centre’s Agnipath Defence recruitment scheme calling it ‘politically motivated’ and ‘misguiding’ the youth.
Speaking on the sidelines of the International Yoga Day Celebrations here, Singh said the opposition parties try to pull down all reform measures brought in the country.
He recalled that the idea of reformation of the armed forces was on since the Kargil Review Committee and the tooth-to-tail ratio of India was higher than many nations.
”It’s all politically motivated. You look at the type of statements that had been issued by the Congress. When I speak like this, and you (media) posted it on twitter, I am trolled by Congress. I know who the trolls are. They will put all kinds of funny names and things which have got no relevance whatsoever. This opposition (to the scheme) is only by the political opposers of the system,” he said
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The former Army chief pointed out that the scheme was developed by people in service after debating on various transformational studies.
”…Whenever we want to bring any reform measures, people start trying to pull it down. Because they have not been able to do any reforms whenever they were in power. We have been toying with the idea to reform the armed forces, because our tooth-to-tail-ratio has been higher. The tail-ratio has been much higher than my countries and this work has been on since the Kargil review committee,” Singh said. Tooth to tail ratio is a military term that refers to the amount of military personnel it takes to supply and support (tail) each combat soldier (tooth).
We have got no apprehension. Rest all political opposers will keep having apprehension and will keep giving it out and misguide the youth,” Singh added.
He said the Kargil Review Committee had also looked to have a younger profile for officers and jawans. ”In a war, you require people who are young, who can take risks, which is an ability of young people,” he said.
The Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation also referred to the Short Service Commission and the Emergency Commission scheme during 1961 for the war.
”We needed more officers at that time. And these people came in just before the war. They had three to six months of training. I haven’t seen or heard any comment that these people, who came at a critical juncture for the ’62 and ’65 war, faulted anyway. They did a commendable job,” he said. Singh also said that after doing away with the emergency commission in 1966, the nation came up with the short service commission officers scheme for which the tenure was five years.
‘The jawans went out without pension or benefits that the Agnipath scheme will provide. I haven’t seen any apprehensions or burning of buses or trains in these schemes. I haven’t seen any lack of performance by people who are trained from three-nine months,” Singh said.
The Agnipath scheme for the armed forces, announced on June 14, provides for the recruitment of youths between the age bracket of 17-and-half years to 21 years, with a provision to retain 25 per cent of them for 15 more years. The others would retire without gratuity and pension benefits.
Later, the government extended the upper age limit to 23 years for recruitment in 2022. Protests have erupted in several states against the Centre’s scheme.
Last week, stormy protests had rocked several states, including Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and Telangana, while peaceful agitations were held in several places against the scheme.
The Indian Railways had endured the brunt of the violence. On Monday, more than 500 trains were cancelled due to the protests.
A number of Opposition political parties and a significant number of military experts have also slammed the scheme, saying it will adversely impact the functioning of the armed forces.