Pride in the Uniform

Col Balwant Singh (Retd)

The Agnipath scheme recently promulgated by the Government of India to produce future soldiers of Indian Armed Forces must be taken by the youth of the country in a right and positive spirit. Like any other new idea, this new recruitment scheme also has its inherent continuous scope for further improvement to meet the aspirations of the youth to serve as proud soldiers of the Indian Armed Forces with a secure future.
At the first instance the youth of the country must understand that nation always comes first and our contribution in any manner for the safety, Security and development of the country is our prime duty being proud citizens of an independent country. Going berserk and damaging national property is quite a contrast to a patriotic mind with an intense zeal to serve the country. A soldier feels pride in the uniform which provides him an opportunity to serve the nation with full of his might and earns due respect from his countrymen because of the sacrifices he makes to protect the country even at the cost of his life.
The youth of the country must always remember that the national property may it be railways, corporation buses or any other public property for that matter belongs to its people and it is the duty of every citizen of the country to safeguard the same to ensure that country maintains its continuous move on the path of progress. Armed Forces of the country needs young men/women patriots with a deep rooted spirit to selflessly fight to the last to protect the country and safeguard its sovereignty. The new recruitment policy though needs to be improved as a continuous process yet must be seen as an opportunity by the youth to join Indian Armed Forces, get themselves transformed into trained soldiers and with patriotism at the helm serve the country as a well disciplined, mentally robust and physically strong individual.
Here as an old soldier of Indian Army, I have few suggestions for the officials involved in the Government machinery to enact and improve upon the new recruitment policy. We have been following the legacy of a well structured regular Armed forces since ages and all of a sudden we have announced the concept of Agnipath recruitment scheme to produce agniveers as a short service soldiers of the Indian Army without assuring them that their future as individuals will be secure to lead a life of dignity once they are discharged from the Armed Forces.
Soldiering is not a job but a Jajwa and this Jajwa comes out of the total dedication to the organization which keeps a soldier well motivated and mentally prepared to even scarify his life for the country. The morale and the motivation are the basic factors of a professional Army to achieve victory in any battle. We are surrounded by the adversaries and also the Armed forces are always on call to maintain internal security.
We have already proved in the past battles with our adversaries and our deployment as part of the international peace keeping force that we are one of the finest, well disciplined and professional Army of the World. We have to maintain the ethos of being a well professional battle ready Army and can not compromise on the status of being one of the best Army of the world. While we have to keep pace with the ever changing technology and induct state of the art equipment and weaponry into the Armed Forces, the man behind the machine has to be well trained, motivated and morally high to ensure our victory in any future war with a giant adversary like China on the northern front and Pakistan in the west.
We have to maintain the legacy of a strong and totally committed manpower in the Armed Forces for the cause of the country. A country with a well relied upon strong defense can make a steady progress because of the security it enjoys from any foreign aggression and a well maintained internal law and order. When a soldier is sure of a secure future and feels himself to be an integral and important part of a great organization, will serve with full of his might, motivation and morale to ensure victory for his motherland even if he has to make supreme sacrifice in the line of duty.
My suggestion is that, instead of making announcements in bits and pieces for the reservations in various sectors for the agniveers once they shed their short lived beloved uniform, a provision has to be incorporated in the scheme to absorb them directly into para military forces or in any other belt force after an orientation training to meet the requirement of that particular force with service benefits and pay protection.
It must has be ensured that soldiers inducted into the Armed forces through Agnipath scheme perform their duty with full of their might and without any haunting thought about their future absorption as a regular soldier within the laid down retention percentage or into any para military or police force. A system has to be put in place for their lateral absorption into Para military, police, coast guards, merchant navy or for that matter any belt bearing force.
Recruitment of a youth into the Armed forces through Agnipath scheme must serve as a gate way for him to enter and join Armed forces, serve the country with full potential and then serve as a regular soldier or alternatively join any other service of their stature as mentioned above as an energetic trained soldier. Many of the deserving soldiers depending upon their aptitude can be inducted into the officers cadre over and above of the laid down retention percentage through various entries to make the scheme more attractive. We have to keep the vigour on and keep the josh high of our daring armed forces which have never let us down and have come out victorious every time .
There has to be no compromise as far as defense of the country is concerned and no matter if we have to spend a bit extra on defense budget to ensure our security and ultimately the independence to work towards a progressive nation. We can cut down on other extravagant expenditure by a careful planning on developmental projects and ensure that such projects are completed decently and no money is wasted out or siphoned off.
Every individual in whatever position in the government must ensure that minimum personal/domestic expenditure is incurred by him on government cost to contribute in the saving towards state exchequer. We can boast of being the best of the world defense forces only if we care for our soldiers by paving their way towards a progressive career and providing them with best of the equipment, weaponry and war heads to win on every front in future.
A soldier is a human being first and trained to serve the nation with his flesh and blood and with the change in the socio economic conditions of the people especially in the country side, a soldier has also to be brought out from a mental state of future uncertainty to make him to perform with full potential. The ongoing Russian Ukraine conflict which started on 24 Feb this year is a live example in front of us where a mighty Russia with best of the weaponry, armament and remote sensing system has been trailing behind to achieve victory over a country 28 times smaller to it because of missing of the fighting spirit among unmotivated short term young soldiers.
The Policy makers in the country have to understand the ground reality in the Indian context, maintain well and keep going the hard earned military superiority in the region by inducting well motivated, morally high, and a soldier with an assured progressive life ahead to make him to always remain full of josh, maintain its sacredness and feel pride in the Uniform.