- The Modi govt is facing Opposition's ire as youth are protesting against the new recruitment scheme
- Manish Tewari, however, said that the defence reform is not merely an act of internal reorganisation
- He said it is a part of larger strategic horizon & needed in view of changing nature of battlefield
Agnipath: Going against his party line, Congress MP Manish Tewari has voiced support in favour of the new military recruitment scheme 'Agnipath'. Tewari backing the Modi government over the new scheme comes amid a major nationwide protest by his party which is demanding its rollback.
Tewari said that the process of defence reforms including right sizing the military started in the US way back in 1975 when Donald Rumsfield was the Defence Secretary in the Ford Administration and every successive administration has seen it through. Rumsfeld initiated the conceptual basis of preparing the armed forces for future warfare as he could envision the changing nature of the battlefield.
"Even the Chinese started the process of right-sizing the PLA way back 1985," he said, adding that PLA's size was cut by 10 lakh in 1985; 500,000 in 1997; 200,000 in 2003; 300,000 in 2015 and from 2017 onwards the People's Liberation Army of China is being further right sized from 20 to 10 lakh by 50 per cent.
"The defence reform is a part of a larger strategic horizon and not merely an act of internal reorganisation," he said.
Tewari in his book '10 Flashpoints 20 Years' has mentioned about why the country urgently needs defence reforms. Out of every Rupee spent on defence in India 25 paisa goes towards pensions only, he said.
"Salaries take away an additional substantive chunk leaving little room for capital expenditure on defence modernisation," the Congress MP from Anandpur Sahib said.
The reforms now being implemented by the government, he said, were recommended by the Kargil review committee (KRC) in 1999 and the Group of Ministers constituted to vet the recommendations too had supported the reforms, including right sizing the armed Forces.
"Even the Naresh Chandra committee had also endorsed many of the recommendations of KRC and GOM that Defence Forces need to be leaner in their disposition," he said.
Massive protests erupted in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and other states last week after the Modi government announced the new military recruitment scheme. The Agnipath scheme provides for the recruitment of youths in the age bracket of 17-and-half to 21 years for only four years with a provision to retain 25 per cent of them for 15 more years. Later, the government extended the upper age limit to 23 years for recruitment in 2022 and announced quotas in different departments for ex-servicemen.
With IANS Inputs