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What is the Agnipath scheme?

GS Paper 3

Syllabus: Various Security forces and agencies and their mandates

 

Context:

The government unveiled its new Agnipath scheme for recruiting soldiers across the three services.

What is the Agnipath scheme?

Under the new scheme, around 45,000 to 50,000 soldiers (will be called ‘Agniveers’) will be recruited annually (for a short period, and most will leave the service in just four years. Of the total annual recruits, only 25 per cent will be allowed to continue for another 15 years under permanent commission.

 

Format of the scheme:

Eligibility: Aspirants between the ages of 17.5 years and 21 years will be eligible to apply. The scheme is only applicable to personnel below officer ranks.

Recruitment:

  • Twice a year through rallies.
  • The recruitment will be done on “all India, all class” recruitment to the services (from any caste, region, class or religious background). Currently, recruitment is based on ‘regiment system’ based on region and caste bases.

 

Training period: 6 months + deployment for three and a half years.

Salary and Benefits:

  • Recruits will get starting salary of Rs 30,000, along with additional benefits which will go up to Rs 40,000 by the end of the four-year service.
  • During this period, 30 per cent of their salary will be set aside under a Seva Nidhi programme, and the government will contribute an equal amount every month, and it will also accrue interest. At the end of the four-year period, each soldier will get Rs 11.71 lakh as a lump sum amount, which will be tax-free.
  • For 25% of soldiers, who are re-selected, the initial four-year period will not be considered for retirement benefits.

 

Current Affairs

 

Benefits

  • Make the armed forces much leaner and younger: For India’s over 13-lakh strong armed forces, the current average age profile is 32 years. It is envisaged it will come down by about 4-5 years by implementation of this scheme
  • Reduce the defence pension bill: The government has either allocated or paid more than Rs. 3.3 lakh crore in defence pension since 2020.
    • As per Army calculations, the savings for the government in this ‘Tour of Duty model’ of recruitment from just one sepoy would be around 11.5 cr (the army initially proposed a 3-year service model).
  • Create “future-ready” soldiers: A youthful armed forces will allow them to be easily trained for new technologies.
  • Increased employment opportunities and higher skilled workforce: Apart from job opportunities in the army, recruits because of the skills and experience acquired during the four-year service such soldiers will get employment in various fields.
    • The central government will likely give preference to Agniveers in regular employment after their four years stint.

 

Concerns regarding the scheme:

  • Present benefits and security of jobs will be lost: Recruits will not get permanent jobs or promised pension and health benefits even after retirement.
  • Doubt about training: 6 months of short training may not be enough to trust them with the same kind of tasks that current troops can be trusted with.
  • Erosion of loyalty: “All India, all class” recruitment to the services may lead to the erosion of the loyalty that a soldier has for his regiment.

 

Similar schemes in other countries:

  • Voluntary tour of duty: In the USA tours are 6-9 or even 12 months’ deploymentdepending upon the needs of the military and branch of service.
  • Mandatory tour of duty (called conscription): Countries that follow the practice of conscription include Israel, Norway, North Korea, and Sweden.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is ‘Tour of duty’
  2. Structure of Agneepath Scheme

Mains Link:

  1. How will the newly launched Agneepath Scheme help make armed forces leaner and tech-savvy? Bring out the concerns regarding the scheme. (15M)

 

Q3. Consider the following statement regarding Agnipath Scheme:

  1. It is a short-service scheme for the Indian Army to recruit young soldiers.
  2. One of the primary motives behind the scheme is to cut down the burden of pension bills for defence personnel.

Which one of the following is correct?

  • 1 only
  • 2 only
  • Both 1 and 2
  • Neither 1 nor 2

Solution: (b) As Agnipath scheme is meant for all three branches of the armed forces

Sources: Indian Express