Everything you need to know about the Agnipath Scheme
16 July 2022
"Candidates (both men and women) between 17.5 to 21 years of age would be given this chance....."
While on a mundane day we were sitting ideal on our couches, the fire spread across half of the Bharat over a scheme whose complete information was indeed not spread across ‘that’ half part of Bharat.
On 14th June 2022, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh unveiled the Agnipath Scheme which aims to bring transformational changes in the armed forces of Bharat. The main objective of bringing this scheme into the function is to provide a youthful profile to the armed forces through the recruitment process. This move comes in a bid to slash the ballooning salary and pension bills.
Rajnath Singh stated, “Under Agnipath Scheme, Indian Youngsters will be provided the opportunity to serve in armed forces as Agniveers”. All those recruited through the scheme will be known as Agniveers.
He further added that “the Agnipath Scheme is brought to strengthen India’s security.” Agnipath is a pan Bharat merit-based recruitment scheme for the enrolment of personnel for the Army, Navy, and Airforce providing the opportunity to the Agniveers to serve in the regular cadre of the armed force. About 45,000 to 50,000 personnel will be recruited through the scheme. The recruitment will be made only on non-commissioned ranks.
Agniveers will be enrolled for a service duration of 4 years including the training period too. Centralized transparent assessment based on merit and demonstrated performance during service that will include their performances in the Physical test, their Medical test, and the Training Program.
After 4 years, a quarter of the recruited Agniveers will be retained or re-enlisted in the regular cadre based on merit, willingness to stay, and medical fitness.
After the re-enlistment, those 25% will then serve for a full term of another 15 years.
For the first four years, the Agniveers would be kept based on a contract in the army and are not likely to be taken into consideration for the fixation of the final pensionary benefits i.e., the pension would not be given to them.
The first rally will be conducted 90 days after the scheme’s announcement.
Eligibility Criteria -
Candidates (both men and women) between 17.5 to 21 years of age would be given this chance.
(As for the year 2022 the age limit has been increased from 21 to 23 years of age because of the pandemic that wasted the two years of the aspiring candidates. The age limit would continue to be between 17.5 to 21 years from the year 2023 onwards.) A minimum of 50% in the 10+2 is required to sit for the recruitment process.
What about the rest?
The remaining 75% will be decommissioned and will be given a package of Rs. 11-12lakh, known as Seva Nidhi that will be partly funded (30%) by their monthly contribution and the same amount would be matched and contributed by the government. The scheme mentioned that those not retained will be provided with skill certificates and bank loans that can help establish their second career.
After the completion of 4 years, if a candidate wants to serve in the army on a voluntary basis but for that service, a salary won’t be given to them.
Even after service of just 4 years, a person stands out differently after being acknowledged as one of the country’s saviors.
What will the Agniveers get?
A salary of Rs. 30,000/- per month will be given to the Agniveers. Rs. 4.76 lakh is the starting package that will further increase to the package of Rs. 6.92 lakhs in the fourth year. Risk & hardship, ration, dress, and travel allowances will be provided as applicable. Agniveers will be exempted from paying the income tax.
In case of any battle casualties, Agniveer’s family will be provided with an additional ex-gratia of Rs. 44 lakhs, Agniveers will also be supported with a non-contributory life insurance cover of 48 lakhs. They will be paid for the unserved portion for up to 4 years including the Seva Nidhi component.
Disability compensation will be given based on the percentage of disability laid down by the medical authorities. One-time ex-gratia of Rs. 44/25/15 lakhs for 100%/75%/50% disability respectively would be dispensed to the Agniveers.
The main concern of the scheme talks about that this strenuous move will adversely impact the professionalism, military ethos, and fighting spirit of over 14 lakh strong armed forces.
How will the scheme be beneficial for the nation?
In light of the scheme, Lt. General Anil Puri augmented on the scheme that Agniveers would be a part of future-ready soldiers that would be helpful if any war takes place against the nation in the future.
Agniveers would be India’s young protector.
It will lead to a much more youthful and technically adept war fighting force by ensuring a fine balance between youthful and experienced personnel in the armed forces.
Due to the unprecedented Covid-19, the recruitment of jawans through large rallies and camps remained suspended for two years which lead to a manpower crunch, and to combat that the Agnipath scheme will prove to be constructive towards maintaining the manpower.
Challenges faced earlier
According to the experts, one of the biggest obstacles that stand in the way of military modernization is the defence budget. One of the biggest problems faced by India was that a large part of the government’s capital was invested in a manpower-intensive army and less was used for military modernization.
The government says that the scheme is aimed at reducing the salary component in the revenue expenditure and the pension bills which together account for roughly half of the annual defence budget. The reduction would consequently lead to an increase in the funds for military modernization.
1. For those wishing to change their field of work, a financial package will be provided, priority will be given under bank loan schemes. Many companies and sectors have announced they will prefer hiring a skilled and disciplined agniveer.
2. For those wishing to study further, a class 12 equivalent certificate and bridging course of choice will be advanced.
3. Those wishing to serve will be prioritized in CAPFs, Assam Rifles, and police and allied forces in several states.
4. After being under training for 4 years, an Agniveer’s resume and biodata will be very unique. He’ll stand out in the crowd with his attitude, his skills, and the time he would have spent in the service.
Many former servicemen and the present serving officers have expressed their aversion towards the scheme mentioning that such a scheme would lead to poorly motivated and trained military personnel, who will be prudent to take the risk because a bulk of them will have to hunt for second careers after the four years tenure.
Some lay stress that to become a fully trained combat-ready soldier, airman, or sailor it takes about 7 to 8 years and a term of 4 years would fall too short for the training. The basic ethos of the military would be compromised, and short-term or contractual employment will impact the fighting spirit of the military man.This may also lead to a rise in unemployment.
With the introduction of any new scheme, there comes criticism, protests, suggestions, and only a handful of praise along with it. The Agnipath Scheme has undoubtedly set a great example on this part. While some may find the scheme instrumental for the country’s and the defence’s part, some may find it equally dissatisfying on an individual basis. Agnipath scheme came with both its pros and cons, if and buts, only after the enforcement of the scheme one will finally know what the scheme possessed for the nation and its citizens.