No guarantee IGNOU course will land discharged agniveer jobs, experts say

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New Delhi: Even as protests continue for the fourth day in a row against the Agnipath program, some academics have raised concerns about the ability of the three-year degree program offered to Agniveers to help them find jobs outside of the force. This aspect is crucial as only 25% of the total annual recruits will be allowed to continue for another 15 years under permanent commission.

When the Agnipath program was announced, the Union government said that it will provide a special three-year competency-based licensing program for serving defense personnel to enhance the future career prospects of Agniveers and equip them for various professional roles in the civilian sector.

“As part of this program designed by IGNOU [Indira Gandhi National Open University] and will also be executed by them, 50% of the credits required for a graduate degree will come from professional training – both technical and non-technical – received by the Agniveer, and the remaining 50% will come from a basket of courses that cover a wide variety of subjects such as languages, economics, history, political science, public administration, sociology, mathematics, education, business, tourism, professional studies, agriculture and Jyotish, as well as capacity building courses on environmental studies and English communication skills,” the government said.

Additionally, it was announced that this program would be aligned with University Grants Commission (UGC) standards and the National Credit Framework/National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF) as mandated by the National Education Policy 2020. The program also offers several exit points – undergraduate certificate upon completion of first year courses, undergraduate diploma upon completion of first and second year courses, and diploma upon completion of all courses within three years, the government said in its press release.

On June 15, Union Home Secretary Amit Shah said retired Agniveers would be given priority for recruitment into the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) and Assam Rifles.

Agneepath Yojana’ is a visionary and welcome decision by @Narendra Modiji for the bright future of youth. In this context, the Home Office has today decided to give priority to Agniveers who have completed 4 years under this scheme in the recruitment of CAPFs and Assam Rifles. #BharatKeAgniveer“, he wrote on Twitter.

However, despite official assurances, job applicants and educators feel the program is “flawed” and poorly thought out. They raised questions about the future of those Agniveers who are ultimately not absorbed into the armed forces.

What is the credibility of the course?

Anita Rampal, former Dean of Education at the University of Delhi, spoke with Thread on the various shortcomings of the system and the diploma training that accompanies it. “First, there is no job guarantee and we don’t know what the nature of this course is going to be. Just giving a few subjects and saying that half of the course would be at an open university raises questions about its reliability. How credible this course is, no one can tell.

“As far as we know, it’s just a hodgepodge that’s been put together. They want to satisfy a narrow window right now. They want to legitimize this course, but they’re completely open about whether this course would provide an opportunity for trainees. We don’t know if after this course they will be able to enter any master’s course, or if they will be able to get the placement they need,” he said. she adds.

She also explained how difficult it is always for a university to start a new course. “For example, the University of Delhi had designed a four-year course for the bachelor’s degree in elementary education. It was unique because there were no courses at the time for specialist teachers in primary education.

However, those who have taken this course have faced many challenges. “It took us more than 25 years to absorb the teachers who went through this course in Delhi’s public schools. Recruitment rules did not recognize the course until last year. It was demoralizing for students who took this course at Delhi University but were not recruited as a Graduate Teacher (TGT). It wasn’t until last year that they started accepting them as TGTs.

An important issue for Agniveers and the armed forces

The former dean warned there was a lot at stake for young interns who would seek employment opportunities through the Agnipath scheme. “They will join these classes right out of school and at a very young age, thinking there will also be a job opportunity later on. But their probability of going beyond three years would be very low – 25% or less. So it would be playing with their aspirations and their confidence in everything they do.

When asked if these trainees would be better off taking other courses, she replied, “It depends on their economic status and their urgency to start earning money. But it would be quite devastating for most of them to be kicked out at 21 and very discouraging because they wouldn’t know what they are capable of and who would be looking for them. Then they will again be in a very uncertain world.

A Delhi University professor and columnist, Apoorvanand, has questioned the logic behind the Agnipath scheme. “Is there any logic behind it, one has to wonder. It’s as misguided a decision as demonetization. I think the diagram is not thought through or there is a bad thought behind it. People are expressing apprehension that they want to create an army of young people with weapons training that can be used later.

Regarding the formal recruitment of only 25% of trainees into the force, he said: “Nothing about this program is rational. They give only a few details to convince others. They want others to believe they’ve thought about the project and they’ve broken it down into different sections so people are confident there’s been some thought or a lot of thought.

However, Apoorvanand insisted that the project was just a “disjointed set of ideas”. “If you put all this together, the regime does not tell you how it helps the armed forces. The question is that the Indian armed forces are professional forces and so what are you going to get out of it and how are you going to improve their professional capacity through this.

Stating that all veterans are critical of the program because they don’t support the idea and believe it will only create chaos, he said, “What the government is doing is, like every other institution , it destroys and dismantles the institution of the armed forces. I don’t see it in isolation. I see it with what they are doing everywhere. They only create chaos – in the economy, in social relations and now in the armed forces.

On the perceived benefits of the scheme, that it would reduce the pension burden on the armed forces and therefore on the public purse, he said: ‘What they are doing is saving money. They don’t want to take responsibility. This will only weaken the armed forces.

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