Deepanshu Singh Baghel

Abstract

The recent Indian Hindi TV series Panchayat have brought forth issues concerning our villages, and youth aspirations for a career in defence amidst Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav India@75, highlighting the dire need for improvements; this article aims to bring about the correlation of the impact popular culture exerts upon contemporary schemes and policies. 

Introduction

It is rarely so that we witness the coming across of popular culture and political policies which complement each other and invoke the audience to introspect. Here, we are speaking about the top-rated web series Panchayat’s second season, created by TVF, followed by the announcement of the infamous Agnipath scheme of the Union Government.

The second season of Panchayat was released on Amazon Prime Video on the 20th of May 2022, and the Agnipath scheme was announced by Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on the 14th of June 2022. 

Why are we discussing these two? For that, we will have to look at the two individually and then through their meeting at the junction of national sentiments. 

Agnipath Scheme

The youths falling in the age group of 17.5 years to 23 years (revised upper age limit) who favour patriotism, teamwork, enhancement of physical fitness, ingrained loyalty to the country, and availability of trained personnel to boost national security in times of external threats, internal threats, and natural disasters can apply through Agnipath scheme to become Agniveers. Upon completion of the four years, Agniveers will go to society as a disciplined, dynamic, motivated, and skilled workforce for employment in other sectors to pursue their career in the job of their choice.

Key Provisions:

  • Agnipath Scheme is a recruitment process launched by the central government wherein selected candidates will be enrolled as Agniveers for four years in Indian Armed Forces.
  • The youth selected under the Agnipath scheme will be categorised as Agniveers. Agniveers will be offered an opportunity to apply for permanent enrolment in the Armed Forces after four years.
  • The Armed Forces will be recruiting 46,000 Agniveers this year through the Agnipath scheme.
  • Salary – Agniveers will be given an attractive customised monthly package along with Risk and Hardship allowances as applicable in the three services. On completion of the engagement period of four years, Agniveers will be paid a one-time ‘SevaNidhi’ package, which shall comprise their contribution including accrued interest thereon and matching contribution from the Government equal to the accumulated amount of their contribution including interest as indicated below:
Agneepath Salary Scheme

The ‘Seva Nidhi’ will be exempt from Income Tax. There shall be no entitlement to gratuity and pensionary benefits. Agniveers will be provided non-contributory Life Insurance Cover of Rs 48 lakh for their engagement period in the Indian Armed Forces.

  • Eligibility – The candidates under the age group of 17.5 years to 23 years (revised) are eligible to have an advantage of the Agnipath Scheme for the Agniveer batch in the Indian Army, Indian Air Force, and Indian Navy. Apart from age, educational qualifications need to be fulfilled to get admitted into the armed forces in different positions. 
Qualifications of Agniveer

Aatma-Samman naam ka bhi koi cheez hota hai

Now that we know the various details of the Agnipath scheme, it is time to look at the apprehensions that arise with Panchayat’s correlation. The show follows the story of Abhishek Tripathi, an urban middle-class person, who represents the youth of India aspiring for a respectful professional life along with a good salary package. Still, as is the problem prevalent in India@75, he remains unemployed in his desired field. He is only able to secure the post of Panchayat Secretary in the village of Phulera with a salary of a mere 20,000 INR.

It is here that we see a complexity arising which introduces us to the craving, our youth experiences in search of a respectable job which coerces an urban person to migrate to a rural place. But aspirations do not have an end, do they? We see Abhishek still preparing for the renowned CAT examination as he feels that securing an MBA degree would help him elevate his career and lifestyle. 

The question that we need to ask ourselves, considering the above scenario, is whether it is all worth it? Is the desperation springing up in our youth in search of employment, forcing them to take up avenues which might not be:

  1. In line with their skills and knowledge.
  2. Below their expectations regarding the domain, status, and salary. 
  3. Leave them with apprehensions about their future. 
Panchayat

Bees-Tees Hazar salary me Jaan dene wale aur kahan milenge?

Panchayat has reflected upon a susceptible issue at a time when India is looking at the future of its young population. India has the largest young population in the world, a fact most Indians are proud and reasonably diffident of.

This reasonability in light of the Agnipath scheme is justified as the militarisation of the largest young population, which is in dire need of employment, might have risks because even though the government is hopeful of the armed forces getting younger, fitter and diverse profile for facing future challenges, it might not be able to fulfil the demands and the young population which is already tensed, might get agitated if this scheme doesn’t perform as existed. This subtleness of social confrontations is what Panchayat has explored in its second season, which has been released when India is celebrating Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav. 

Many have expressed their apprehension about the said scheme of the Central government, which aims at militarising a particular age bracket. Critics speak of a continuum of political schemes that do nothing but play with the vulnerability of the most active age bracket filled with a lot of hope and charisma to leave their mark. The youth of India aspires for employment, and is it too much to ask for it when there are such ambitious schemes of the government, still, India’s unemployment rate surged to a one-year high of 8.3% in August 2022 as employment sequentially fell by 2 million to 394.6 million, according to data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy.

This continuum is what leads us to believe that before we rest and think of sleeping in peace, it is miles that we must travel in order to reach somewhere which resembles peace. As Lal Bahadur Shastri famously said, “We can win respect in the world only if we are strong internally and can banish poverty and unemployment from our country.” 

About the Contributor

Deepanshu Singh Baghel, Research Intern at IMPRI

Read more Policy Updates at IMPRI