What does rural Prayagraj (Uttar Pradesh) think of the Agnipath scheme?

‘Army was the only institution which provided a government job to the children of the farmers and the poor. No bribe had to be paid and one didn’t have to be highly educated. This was a boon for the children of economically, socially and culturally backward families. But the government’s new policy has deprived them of this opportunity.’ Sushil Manav reports from rural Prayagraj

The central government has launched the Agnipath scheme for recruitment to the armed forces. This is the government’s first experiment with its Fixed Term Employment (FTI) policy. Under the Agnipath scheme, soldiers would be recruited for a fixed period of four years. The FTI policy was cleared by Parliament in 2018. The then minister for labour, Santosh Gangwar, had piloted the bill through Parliament. Thus, the groundwork for launching an Agnipath-like scheme was laid five years ago. The Agnipath scheme has drawn wide criticism, especially in north India. Like in the case of the now-withdrawn farm laws, the Union Government, BJP-led state governments, the party’s MPs and MLAs, chiefs of the armed forces and the military brass are singing paeans to the scheme. What do residents of rural areas think about the scheme? Forward Press spoke with residents of a dozen villages in Uttar Pradesh’s Prayagraj (Allahabad) district. Fearful of government reprisal, most of them shared their thoughts on the condition of anonymity. No names, no pictures, they insisted.

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