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Agnipath Scheme

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June 12, 2024

 Why in news?

Recently, government’s ambitious Agnipath scheme has faced opposition from political parties and armed forces veterans.  

What is the Agnipath scheme?

  • It is about recruiting personnel below officer ranks like soldiers, airmen, and sailors who are not commissioned officers to the Indian Armed Forces.
  • Announced in - 2022, after military recruitment was paused for two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  
  • Broad objectives – To enhance youthful profile of Armed Forces so that they at their fighting best at all times with increased risk taking ability and to use emerging modern technologies.
  • To provide abilities and qualities such as discipline, dynamism, motivation and work-skills so that the youth remains as asset.
  • Key features – It is a pan India merit based recruitment.
  • It has a tenure of four years.
  • It provides opportunity to apply for enrolment in permanent cadre.
  • Based on merit and organizational requirement, upto 25% of Agniveers selected through central, transparent, rigorous system after four years.
  • Age limit for applicants range from 17.5 years to 23 years.
  • Once selected they would go for training for six months and then will be deployed for three and a half years.
  • In includes recruiting sailors, airmen, and soldiers, except the technical cadre of the medical branch.
  • Women are also recruited ensuring gender equality.

How are Agniveers compensated? 

  • Composite annual package – The 1st package is approximately Rs.4 Lacs and upgradation upto approximately Rs.6 Lacs.

                             AgnipathCompensation

  • Allowances – Risk & hardship, ration, dress, travel allowances are provided.
  • Severance package – 30% of the monthly emoluments to be contributed by individuals and the same amount will be contributed by the government to ‘Seva Nidhi’ fund.
  • A corpus of approximately Rs.11 Lacs is given after four years of service, which is also exempted from income tax.
  • Death compensation – Non-contributory life insurance cover of Rs. 48 Lakh and additional ex gratia of Rs. 44 Lakhs for death attributable to service.
  • It also provides unserved portion upto four years including ‘Seva Nidhi’ component.
  • Disability compensationThe compensation is based on the % of disability laid down by medical authorities.
  • One time ex-gratia of Rs. 44/ 25/ 17 Lacs for 100%/ 75%/ 50% disability, respectively.

What benefits are envisaged to be accrued from the scheme?

  • It would be a win-win situation for the Armed Forces, Nation, individuals and the society at large.
  • Nation – It helps in national integration based on unity in diversity with equal opportunity to youth including women from all regions.
  • It promotes nation building through empowered, disciplined & skilled youth with military ethos in civil society.
  • Armed Forces – It improves battle preparedness through transformative evolution with energetic, diverse, more trainable and resilient youth suited to the changing dynamics.
  • It ensures selection of the best with rigorous and transparent selection process.
  • Armed Forces will be empowered with youthful profile by optimal balance of youth an experience by bringing down the average age down to 26 years from current 32 years.
  • It endeavor to harness benefits of skill India by induction from Tech Institutions.
  • Individuals – It promotes smooth integration of trained personnel into society with skill sets, certification and diplomas/ higher education/ credits.
  • It provides a platform for the youth to fulfil dream of joining the Armed Forces and serve the nation.
  • It will imbibe armed forces ethos, courage, camaraderie commitment and teamwork in the youth.

What are the issues with this scheme?

  • Lack of pension – Unlike soldiers in regular service, Agniveers do not draw pensions post-retirement.
  • Only the 25% of Agniveers who get absorbed into the forces after four years will receive pensionary benefits.
  • Decrease permanency It will reduce the number of permanent armed forces.
  • Lack of benefits It creates a lesser cadre of soldiers, who work on the same tasks as those with full commission, but with lesser pay, benefits, and prospects.
  • DisparityIt has caused significant disaffection among those who see military recruitment as a path to economic stability and upward mobility.   

What lies ahead?

  • The Forces too are carrying out an internal assessment on the impact of the scheme, based on which they will make recommendations to the government on possible changes.
  • All three services are have submitted their observations to the Department of Military Affairs.   
  • The government has recently indicated that it is willing to alter the scheme if required, but without compromising on the Armed Forces’ youthful profile.

References

  1. Indian Express | Issues with Agnipath Scheme
  2. Agnipath Brochure| Key features of Agnipath Scheme
  3. Agnipath| Benefits of Agnipath Scheme 
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