Exploring potential of Agniveer scheme in India-Israel collaboration

| Updated: 14 November, 2023 10:47 am IST

There has been criticism of the Indian Govt’s proposal to send around 100,000 Indian Construction workers to Israel to replace Palestinian labourers, especially from ten Central Trade Unions. The objection is to the government’s show of support to Israeli efforts to replace Palestinian workers which they view as retaliation for Hamas attacks of 7th October 2023. Although diplomatic sources mention the discussions regarding the request from Israel’s construction industry, they have clarified that no agreement has been reached yet.

The Indian government has been discussing a mobility and migration agreement with Israel to support Indian workers in construction and caregiving roles, since 2022 according to the Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi. There are already many Indian workers in Israel, primarily in the caregiving sector. These discussions have been ongoing since 2022, but there are no specific requests or numbers known at present. This initiative is part of a long-term bilateral framework in the construction and caregiver sectors.

There is a solution to this – utilising the Agniveers who may not make it to the finale of the selection process to the Indian Army. The Agniveer scheme presents a significant opportunity for India to demonstrate its vast human resources. The Agniveers will undergo rigorous training and gain valuable experience in various fields and will receive customised pay and a Seva Nidhi package on discharge. They will also have the choice to re-enlist or join regular forces. Not all of them will make it to the Indian Army as the selection rate is only 25%.

If the rest will be given a choice to work in Israel, as part of the India-Israel agreement, this trained bulk will not only be able to defend themselves and their colleagues in a war zone but also benefit from its development and achievements in science, technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship. In addition to this, they will also be able to apply their skills and knowledge to their own careers and ventures. Moreover, foreign workers mean remittance for the home country, which is an added benefit, in case India sends the workers.

Lastly, this will also silence the sceptics of the Agnipath scheme who felt it was a futile project since a trained bulk of youth could be utilised in foreign countries wherever conscripted military training is required. This will be a win-win situation for both India and Israel and it will create a better and safer future for both countries and the region.

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