agnipath agniveer

Democratic and well-meaning sections across the country have already come up against the “Agnipath” scheme announced by Modi regime in mid-June 2022. As in the case of other corporate-fascist moves, the Agnipath was neither discussed in parliament nor in any parliamentary committees including the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence. It is a superimposed saffron-fascist offensive, the brainchild of RSS conceptualized and designed by its think-tanks. Of course, many criticisms from diverse persuasions such as contractualisation and privatization/corporatization of the military, weakening of the country’s defence system by destroying its dignity, professionalism and efficiency, lack of guarantee of permanent employment and pension for the defence staff, betrayal of the unemployed youth, etc., are there. In general, it may be stated that these neoliberal trends in military are a corollary of the unfettered privatization and contractualisation that is already in full swing in the entire civil administration including all public sectors and governmental institutions. However, this note is intended not as an overview of this emerging far-right orientation in military but only to pinpoint the principal task of this ingenious move; i.e., the strategic step towards accomplishing complete militarization of the Hindutva bandwagon in the ultimate push towards Hindurashtra led by RSS, the biggest and longest-running fascist organization in history, which now holds the reins of Indian regime through its political tool BJP.

In spite of its claim as a cultural organization since its very inception in 1925, under the camouflage of its ‘cultural nationalism’, militarism has been endemic to RSS. Closely associated with the interwar European classical fascism led by Mussolini and Hitler, the entire orientation of RSS has been integrated with military training. As per historical records, Moonje, the mentor and political guru of Hedgewar, the founder of RSS, visited the Italian fascist dictator Mussolini in the 1930s and inspired by the Fascist Academy of Physical Education and the fascist organisational structure there established by Mussolini that trained paramilitary lumpen goons called “Black Shirts” (its German counterpart was Hitler’s “Brown Shirts”) came back to India and started the Bhonsala Military School in Nasik in 1937 for imparting paramilitary training to RSS cadres and Hindutva goons under the management of Central Hindu Military Education Society. On account of its own total distancing from the Indian Independence struggle and due to its affinity to British colonialists, the latter did nothing to obstruct this parallel military work by RSS, and even after 1947, it continued unabated without much publicity due to the absence of any political intervention on account of the the soft-Hindutva inherent to Congress party that led the Indian regime for decades. Meanwhile, the Narasimha Rao government that revealingly abstained from deploying security forces when Saffron goons destroyed the Babri Masjid in 1992 also did not intervene when Bhonsala military school of RSS that started in 1937 succeeded in affiliating itself to the Indian Public School Conference in 1995.

Meanwhile, many concerned people have brought out the role of trained saffron cadres from the RSS’ Bhonsala military school and its sister military school from Nagpur in engaging illegal and terror activities especially directed against Muslims. Hemant Karkare, chief of the Maharashtra Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) who was mysteriously killed while on duty was probably the first senior police officer to expose Bhonsala School’s links with terroristic actions led by Hindutva extremist groups and their role in 2006 blasts including Malegaon, which were earlier placed at the door of Muslims and even the NIA falsely giving clean chit to Swami Aseemanand, Sadhvi Pragya and Colonel Purohit. Karkare had also identified that colonel Purohit, the mastermind behind Malegaon blasts was a student of the Bhonsala military school with which illegal activities of terror offshoots of RSS such as Sanathan Sanstha, Abhinav Bharat, etc., also were linked.
However, with the advent of Modi regime and the entry of Hindutva agenda in to the core of administration, Vidya Bharati, RSS-linked biggest ‘nongovernmental’ educational organisation in the country itself has started Military Schools on the model of Indian Military Schools imparting training to recruits who would be directly absorbed as officers into the Indian armed forces. According to latest information, Modi regime has decided to start 100 ‘PPP model’ military schools across India involving NGOs. Obviously, these NGOs will be linked directly or indirectly to the RSS and other Sangh Parivar Organisations who are notorious for their genocidal hatred towards Muslims. Since the cadres from these military schools will have to be treated at par with those trained at Indian Military Academy, the agenda is to saffronise the officer level cadres of the Indian army within a short span of time.

In continuation of this saffronisation of the higher echelons of military through direct recruits from RSS-linked military institutions, the latest announcement on the Agnipath scheme by the Hindutva-fascist regime is intended to transform the entire ground-level troops as loyal cadres of saffron forces. As such 46000 “Agniveers” are to be recruited every year and after four years, 75 percent of them (around 35000) will come out allowing the remaining 25 percent to continue as ground-level troops. In course of time, the entire military from command-level to the rank-and-file will be integrally linked up with Hindutva agenda as the process from recruitment of the Agniveers onwards can easily be monitored by saffron centres (even recruitment itself may be outsourced in course of time) as is evident from the recent statements of some BJP leaders on the method of recruitment. On the other hand, the stage is also set for the absorption of the tens of thousands of Agniveer soldiers retiring every year after four years of service in to the RSS bandwagon. Some BJP spokespersons have already hinted at this process by openly declaring without any qualm that Agniveer soldiers will be hired as “watchmen” at their offices and establishments across the country, thus directly transforming “Agniveers” to “Saffronveers”. And corporate-crony capitalists closest to Modi regime, who so far are not heard of offering any job scheme for ex-servicemen have, in support of this saffron move, offered them employment in their establishments, thereby once again bringing to light the unholy manner in which the most reactionary elements of corporate capital are merging itself with the Hindutva fascist agenda.

The upshot of the argument, as briefly put in this note, is that militarisation of Hindutva cadres including bringing the military establishments under their control is not a new agenda but a well-thought out strategy by Saffron fascism. Chief ideologues of RSS from the very beginning have been advocating a “military regeneration of Hindus” for fulfilling the goal of Hindurashtra. As already noted by many scholars, the diaries and notes of Moonje, the patron and Guru of Hedgewar, the founder of RSS were explicit in acknowledging the centrality of violent militarism to the RSS strategy. As already hinted, based on Moonje’s report after his Italian visit, the organisational structure of RSS including its shakhas had copied many features from Mussolini’s National Socialists including even the ‘cell-structure’ of Italian and German fascist organisation. In the same vein, paramilitary and martial training have been incorporated into the training of Swayamsevaks that permeate every aspect of Parivar infrastructure from student politics upwards. The conceptualisation of “military regeneration of Hindus” and violence to purge the nation of all that Hindutva does not desire as espoused by Moonje was carried forward by Golwalkar, the leading theoretician of RSS, through his open appreciation of the efforts by Hitler and his “Brown Shirts” to “purge” the German nation of all Jews. And Golwalkar appreciated it as a valuable lesson for India to resolve the “Muslim question” here.

Today the Agnipath scheme, if implemented, will result in the elimination of the line of demarcation between the military and civil spheres in society (Moonje himself in the 1930s, as part of his military regeneration of Hindu society, had denounced the division between martial and non-martial learning) leading to a qualitative dimension in the whole process of saffron militarisation or militarised Hindutva in the country. Meanwhile, though conceptualisation on militarisation of society and saffron encroachments into military was clearly laid down by RSS ideologues during the formative days of RSS, this process has been at a low key and not so apparent over the years. However, under Modi.1 and Modi.2, together with the reactionary, far-right, neoliberal-neofascist orientation, the RSS has succeeded in saffronising almost all spheres of civil administration including even constitutional and judicial institutions. Today, it is in the context of this all-embracing neofascist-corporate offensive that the Agnipath scheme is put forward. While exposing such negative aspects as contractualisation, de-professionalisation, destruction of permanent employment in military, etc., which are inherent in this move, progressive-democratic forces should not have any let-up in identifying and resisting the more dangerous more deep-rooted neo-fascist agenda behind Agnipath, i.e., full-fledged militarisation of Hindutva politics with its immediate goal towards Hindurashtra as RSS is going to celebrate its centenary in 2025.

P J James is a political commentator


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