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A train is set ablaze during a protest against the Agnipath army recruitment scheme in Patna on June 17.

A train is set ablaze during a protest against the Agnipath army recruitment scheme in Patna on June 17.

Photographer: Santosh Kumar/Hindustan Times/Getty Images

Burning Trains Reveal Wrath of Millions Without Jobs in India

Violent protests by the unemployed turn the spotlight on Modi’s campaign pledge to create millions of jobs.

A military recruitment plan in India that sparked last month’s violent protests is turning the spotlight on an unemployment crisis plaguing the $3.2 trillion economy, along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s campaign pledges on jobs.

Behind the unrest is a new policy to enlist young men as soldiers on four-year contracts without pension, replacing the current 15-year service that entails full retirement benefits. Modi's government says the program will boost employment by supplying a trained, disciplined workforce to local industry. Critics say that it would be similar to hiring for the gig economy and won’t lead to high-quality jobs. The program has already started luring a record number of applicants, but it has also provoked a furious backlash from some quarters.