Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said that some reforms initiated by the government may seem unfair initially but they benefit the country later. Modi’s remarks came amid massive protests across the country against the government’s new Agnipath military recruitment scheme. The PM, however, made no reference to the scheme during his speech.

“Few of our initiatives might seem to be bitter in the present times. But, they will bear fruits in the coming days,” the prime minister said while addressing a public gathering in Bengaluru. He also said the private sector is as important as the government sector as both offers equal opportunities. “But, the mindset of people has not changed. They do not talk so well about private enterprises," PM Modi said.

Earlier today, Modi arrived in Bengaluru on a two-day visit to Karnataka. He inaugurated and laid the foundation stone for rail and road infrastructure projects worth over Rs 28,000 crore in the state capital.

The Agnipath scheme, announced on June 14, provides for the recruitment of youths between the age bracket of 17-and-half years to 21 for only four years with a provision to retain 25 per cent of them for 15 more years. Later, the government extended the upper age limit to 23 years for recruitment in 2022. Protests have erupted in several states against the Centre’s scheme.

The Defence Ministry on Sunday refused to roll back the scheme and asserted that henceforth the recruitment to the armed forces will be through the Agnipath scheme only. It also clarified that the ‘Agniveers’ - as they would be known — would get the same allowance in areas like Siachen and other areas that are applicable to the regular soldiers serving at present and a compensation of Rs 1 crore will also be disbursed if the personnel is martyred.

The ministry also said that ‘Agniveers’ will have to submit a certificate declaring that they have not taken part in any protests ever as the “Indian Army has no space for arsonists”.

Meanwhile, in the wake of the country-wide ‘Agnipath’ protests, security has been tightened. Major traffic jams were reported en route to Noida, where Section 144 has been imposed. The Delhi-Gurugram Expressway is also witnessing a heavy traffic jam following a call for Bharat Bandh. A massive pile-up was seen on the expressway near the Sirhaul border on Monday as the Delhi Police was inspecting every vehicle before it entered the capital, to ensure law and order. The gridlock began around 8:30 am and grew worse during the peak hours.

The countrywide protests prompted the Indian Railways to cancel 208 Mail Express and 379 passenger trains. Partially, 4 Mail Express and 6 passenger trains have been cancelled. Total affected trains now stand at 597 on Monday.

Modi Laid Foundation Stone of Bangalore Suburban Rail Project

PM Modi laid the foundation stone for the ambitious Bengaluru Suburban Rail Project, which is being implemented at a cost of Rs 15,767 crore. Slamming the earlier governments for delaying the project for 17 years, Modi said, “We are working towards cutting down on travel time by building rail, metro, roads and flyovers in Bengaluru. This project has been talked about for 40 years. This is not a small thing. When implemented, it would reduce the pressure on Bengaluru to a great extent."

“I will fulfil this dream in 40 months. I will work day and night. If this project is implemented, the vehicles from other states and cities need not enter Bengaluru. The railway services have been transformed in terms of speed, security and comfort," he said.

PM Modi also inaugurated the new campus of Dr B R Ambedkar School of Economics (BASE) University and also unveiled a statue of the architect of Indian Constitution installed at the campus. At the event, he also unveiled 150 Technology Hubs’ that have been developed by transforming the Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) across Karnataka.

Developed at a cost of over Rs 4,700 crore, the Technology Hubs initiative is supported by many industry partners and aims to create a skilled workforce to address industry 4.0 manpower needs.

Karnataka Governor Thaawarchand Gehlot, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, Union Minister Pralhad Joshi, and several Ministers of the state cabinet were among those present. The prime minister is visiting the state for a 2-day tour after one-and-a-half years.