Editorial analysis: Relook Agnipath, listen to voices


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In the daily editorial analysis, except for Sundays, The Raisina Hills critically reviews the comments of the top five English newspapers of India on their Edit pages.

After failing to critique the Agnipath scheme initially, the street fury in several states made almost all newspapers on Saturday to carry lead Edits to argue that the government should reconsider the initiative, while some even called for rollback.

The Hindu in its Edit ‘Playing with fire’ asked the Narendra Modi-led government to put the Agnipath scheme on hold, dubbing it as a cost-cutting measure.

The Indian Express in its lead Edit ‘Selling change’ while condemning the violence and arson put the blame on ‘sloppy planning and execution that feed into a pre-existing credibility crisis governments face’, arguing that pushing reform is a challenge against the interest groups that benefit from the status quo.

The Times of India’s lead Edit ‘Follow through’ argued ‘what’s need for its successful implementation is clear communication and political follow through while listening to the voices of all stakeholders’.

Both IE and ToI have come down heavily against the violence and arsons while terming the Agnipath scheme as a reform measure in the recruitment for the Armed forces.

Deccan Herald in its ‘Policy sans thought, consultation’ argued that the ‘impact of replacing the old regimental system (of the British era) with the new all-India recruitment system is not clear’.

The crux of the arguments of the editorials is that while the military recruitment indeed needs reform and also the pension burden, which has already been added more weight with the implementation of the OROP (one rank, one pension), needs serious deliberations.

The Pioneer has also while stating that out of the current defence budget of Rs 525,166 crores, the pension burden alone accounts for Rs 119, 696 crores.

However, none of the editorials in the newspapers asked the armed forces to look within and tell the country on the quantum of their manpower employed in menial works such as gardening, pet care, kitchen works, driving family members for non-official works of the ranking officials in three military wings. An honest answer and pruning of such staff force can substantially cut down the pension burden of the Armed forces.

The Hindu has advised the government to consult the political parties and experts to take a relook at the Agnipath scheme, which offers four-year of services against the existing 15 plus years of services to the soldiers.

The Geneva Ministerial conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on Friday concluded its stretched sessions, with agreements to give partial TRIPS waiver for vaccine emergency, which will make countries manufacture and export vaccines irrespective of patents in situations of grave emergency, besides accepting the demand that the World Fod Programme can import foodgrains to address hunger in any of the countries.

The Indian Express in its Edit ‘A belated correction’ has hailed the WTO outcome to the proposal of India and South Africa, mooted two years ago, to improve vaccine equity after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the IE has rightly flagged that patent waiver in itself would not be enough since knowledge sharing by the original innovator would be key to help in achieving the vaccine equity as had been the case with the Oxford University and the Serum Institute of India which gave the world the Covishield vaccine, which was widely used in Europe.

The Hindu in its Edit ‘Bubble in the air’ has called for regulatory mechanism to protect the retail investors amid the crypto-currency crash, which has wiped out the wealth substantially in a span of a few months after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which made the people cold to risk averse to the speculative assets.

The Times of India in its Edit ‘Punish the predator’ has taken note of the allegations of sexual harassments against coaches by top two women cyclists, calling for more seriousness on the parts of the Sports Authority of India, while arguing that demands for women coaches is not the answer. It argues for exemplary punishment to work as deterrent. However, the Edit fails to mention that the SAI is an abode of bureaucracy where reforms find no takers.




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