Amid Congress’ Agnipath protests, Manish Tewari bats for defence reforms

Amid Congress’ Agnipath protests, Manish Tewari bats for defence reforms

Going against his party line, Congress MP Manish Tewari has come in support of the Central government’s Agnipath scheme. This comes amid a major nationwide protest launched by the party, which is demanding its rollback.

Speaking to IANS, Tewari said, “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.”

“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. Salaries take away an additional substantive chunk leaving little room for capital expenditure on defence modernisation, Tewari said.

“The reforms now being implemented by the government 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.

Tewari’s remarks are in contrast to the official line of the Congress on the Agnipath system. Last week he said in a tweet, “I do empathise with youth who have concerns over Agnipath recruitment Process. Reality is India needs a younger armed force with lighter human footprint savvy on technology, equipped with state of art weaponry. Armed forces of Union shouldn’t be an employment guarantee programme.”

The MP from Anandpur Sahib has raised some concerns and tweeted, “As MP from a rural constituency I stand with Concerns /Fears of Youth desirous of joining Armed Forces, Politics apart-Rough calculation of impact of new recruitment paradigms on even largest employer Army shows issue not insurmountable if retirees are transitioned to CAPF’s/SPF’s.

“In ten years as a consequence of these new recruitment paradigms the size of the Army for example would only come down from the present 14 lakhs to 10,47,500 an attrition of 3,52,500 over ten years or 35,200 per year or to put it more simply 2933 per month. These many retirees that too after six years and not now can be easily accommodated in 10 CAPF’s or the 30 odd state police forces. It is not really such an insurmountable issue if you de- horse the politics.”


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