Centre Unveils Scheme For Soldiers
The Centre has unveiled the radical, far-reaching, and transformative mission Agnipath Scheme for recruitment of all soldiers largely on a short-term contractual basis to the three Armed forces. Those who will be recruited under this scheme will be known as Agniveers. This scheme has been introduced to strengthen the security of the country & to place the opportunity of military service to the youth. The scheme, considered to be a reformative step, targets youth in the armed forces. It is envisioned that the average age profile of the Indian armed forces would come down by 4-5 years by the implementation of this scheme. This scheme is also seen with an aim to cut the ballooning salary and pension bills and enable a youthful profile of the armed forces.
Agnipath, earlier known as the Tour of Duty, is expected to make the permanent force levels leaner in the over 13-lakh strong armed forces. Under the scheme, most soldiers for most of those joining below the rank of officer will leave the service in just four years. Of the 45,000 to 50,000 recruited annually, only 25% will be allowed to continue for another 15 years under permanent commission. This will considerably help reduce the defence pension bill which has been a great concern of governments for many years. The age range of new Agniveers to be eligible for the scheme is 17 and a half years to 21 years. Troops under the scheme will not be eligible for pension benefits. Recruitment will begin within the next 90 days which will bring “all India, all class” recruitment to the services. This is especially significant for the Army where the regiment system has region and caste bases, & with time that will be eliminated to allow anybody from any caste, region, class or religious background to be part of existing regiments.
The monthly salary of an ‘Agniveer’ in the first year of employment would be Rs 30,000 & the in-hand amount would be Rs 21,000 as Rs 9,000 would go to a corpus with the government’s equal contribution . Subsequently, Rs 33,000, Rs 36,500 and Rs 40,000 will be the monthly salary in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th year respectively. Each ‘Agniveer’ will receive an amount of Rs 11.71 lakh as ‘Seva Nidhi Package’ & it will be exempted from income tax. There will be no entitlement to gratuity and pensionary benefits & the new recruits will be provided non-contributory life insurance cover of Rs 48 lakh for the duration of their engagement period in the armed forces. The annual package including risk and hardship, ration, dress and travel allowances will also be provided as allowances. Full pay and interest for non-service period will also be provided, If disabled during service.
The kind of training of Agniveers will be depended on the service entered & the role assigned. The minimum training provided to each recruit will be 10 weeks, & the maximum 6 months. The training modules are being redeveloped and improved. If an Agniveer is selected back into a particular service after the four-year tenure, he or she might get additional training if required. Apart from the discipline & fitness from serving in the armed forces, they could get a bachelor’s degree from a designated university. But most important perhaps, it would ensure that every district of the country will be properly represented.
Critics opine that this scheme will hit the professionalism, ethos and fighting spirit of the armed forces as well as possibly lead to militarisation of civil society. Tens of thousands of aspirants try for the armed forces every year as they get a permanent job, a promised pension & health benefits that can be availed even after retirement. All those benefits & the security of a permanent job are now gone. From the perspective of the armed forces, there are two main concerns. First, not everybody is certain that the training that the Agniveers will get will be enough to trust them with the same kind of tasks that the current troops can be trusted with. The scheme will bring “all India, all class” recruitment to the services. Within the Army, a concern is that it can lead to the erosion of the loyalty that a soldier has for his regiment or battalion, and the pride he derives out of it. Many veterans & senior officers believe that this is a significant motivator for the soldier, soldier or Air Force pilot.
Write a public review