Will that make him vulnerable to harmful, polarising ideologies? Will his indoctrination, plus his ability to use lethal arms, make him an incomparably severe threat? If he is unable to get a decent job, will his anger and sense of defeat or denial become uncontrollable? Isn’t that a powder keg of potential crime and violence in society?
Yes, none of these unknown unknowns may turn out to be as chilling as I’ve described them above. But hope is not a plan. The only certain way of obviating disaster is to virtually guarantee that each Agniveer shall find a productive job as soon he exits the cantonment at the end of four years.
Unfortunately, all that I’ve heard from the authorities so far are homilies like ‘these skilled, motivated, disciplined, and patriotic Agniveers will be given priority in jobs in central ministries, departments, and public sector undertakings, as well as state governments’. No sir, these old, tired statements will not cut it. The government must have a plan, as radical and extraordinary as Agnipath, to ignite the job prospects of these prematurely retiring soldiers. But how?
Remember how the state had rolled out Aadhaar for a billion people? It had enlisted hundreds of private agencies with incentives and targets to go door-to-door and record biometrics. A similar bombardment is needed.
The government should pull in hundreds of professional job agencies, making each one responsible for placing 500 Agniveers at the end of four years. Their tasks and targets must be set now, immediately. These agencies should get special bonuses and incentives for every successful placement. Each Agniveer should be skill-profiled, his four-year career tracked and catalogued, his special training and aptitude copiously recorded. And at the end of four years, each Agniveer should get a job with the best fit, whether he ends up being a foreman in an auto factory, a guard at a security agency, a physical instructor in a school, or whatever.
So, if the government wants its radical Agnipath plan to succeed, it must craft Agninaukri, an equally radical, handsomely bonused job placement initiative that is driven entirely by the private sector.
Raghav Bahl is Co-Founder – The Quint Group including BQ Prime. He is the author of three books, viz ‘Superpower?: The Amazing Race Between China’s Hare and India’s Tortoise’, ‘Super Economies: America, India, China & The Future Of The World’, and ‘Super Century: What India Must Do to Rise by 2050’.