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Agnipath Scheme
 

All About Short-Term Soldier Recruitment Scheme “Agnipath”

 
A new short-term soldier recruitment scheme, Agnipath, is a programme designed by the government of India to recruit new soldiers in the Indian Defence. It allows the government to fill up vacant posts in the Indian Defence forces on a short-term contractual basis than in the case of normal recruitment through the regular channel. Nowadays, the supply of soldiers by the government is not forthcoming. This has led to the creation of the Short-term Soldier Recruitment Scheme (STSR), which ensures that an individual trained and fit for military service is retained in a particular area for a specific period.

 

 

What is the Agnipath scheme?

 
The Indian Defence forces have a problem. They are full of older men and women, many of whom are past their prime age. They are not fit for battle and are not young enough to cut. This is what they want to change. And it is starting with a recruitment process that will give the forces a more youthful face—and such soldiers who are ready to take on the front lines of war.
 
This new recruitment policy is called AGNIPATH: Agnipath means “the path of fire” in Sanskrit. Individuals below the rank of officer will be recruited for this program in order to place fitter, younger troops on the front lines, many of whom will be on a four-year contract. It is a project that will give the Army, Navy, and Air Force a fresher image—and one ready to take on whatever comes its way.
 

 

 Agnipath Eligibility – Who can Apply

 
Enrolment for all three services will be through a centralized online system, with specific rallies and campus interviews conducted by recognized technical colleges such as Industrial Training Institutes and the National Skills Qualifications Framework. Enlisted personnel will meet the medical requirements for enlistment in the armed forces as they apply to their particular categories/trade. The applicants for Agniveer can enrol in the armed forces through a centralized online system. They will be required to meet specific requirements, including their educational background. Eligible candidates must have completed their Class 10 exams. 
 

 

Agniveer Salary and Pension.

 
The government of India has provided a 1st-year salary package of Rs 4.76 lakh and up-gradation of up to Rs 6.92 lakh in the 4th year, with Seva Nidhi package of approx. Rs 11.71 lakh (including interest (tax-free) and non-contributory insurance cover of Rs 48 lakh, provided one has received an Agniveer skill certificate which will assist in post-release job opportunities. Agniveers who have served for four years will be retained in the regular cadre based on merit and willingness. They will then serve for a full term of another 15 years. The other 75% of Agniveers are to be demobilized, as well as a severance package of Rs 11-12 lakh, funded partly by their monthly contributions, skill certificates and bank loans for help in their second careers. The Agniveers will receive a special allowance called the “Seva Nidhi” that will be exempt from income tax. They will not be eligible for gratuity or pension benefits during this period of service to the nation. Still, they will be given military training, experience, discipline, and physical fitness. They will also learn leadership qualities, courage and patriotism. agniveer will get many benefits during and after work. Rajnath Singh has approved a proposal to reserve 10% of job vacancies in the Ministry of Defence for Agniveers, meeting requisite eligibility criteria.
 

 

Job reservations for Agniveers

 
The government will implement the 10% reservation for Agniveers in the Indian Coast Guard and other defence posts and all 16 Defense Public Sector Undertakings (HAL, BEL, BEML, BDL, GRSE, GSL, HSL, MDL, Midhani). Necessary age relaxation provisions will also be made to enable recruitment of Agniveers to these posts. Assam Rifles and Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) vacancies will be reserved for 10% of the Agniveer organization. The Ministry has also announced that it will give three years of age relaxation to Agniveers beyond the prescribed upper age limit for recruitment in CAPFs and Assam Rifles. The Directorate General of Shipping (MoSPW) and the Indian Navy have announced a system for the induction of Agniveers into the Merchant Navy. Under this system, MoPSW has set up six attractive service avenues for a smooth transition from Indian Navy ratings to Merchant Navy ratings, from electrical ratings to electro-technical ratings, from ratings in Indian Navy to merchant navy certified class IV-NCV CoC holder, from electrical ratings to electro-technical officers and from the cook in Indian Navy to merchant navy certified cook. The Ministry of Education has awarded a unique, three-year skill-based bachelor’s degree programme for Agniveers. This program will recognize the skill training they have received during their tenure in the defence establishments and equip them for various civilian sector jobs. The government has said that this program is run by IGNOU, which means it is part of India’s university system. 50% of the program will come from courses that cover a wide variety of subjects; the remaining 50% comes from a basket of courses that cover various topics.
 

 

Is the Agnipath scheme good for Indian defence?

 
The Indian government has introduced the Army Agneepath Entry Scheme, which aims to train and make a cut in retirement and pensions for the Indian Armed forces. This scheme was introduced to strengthen our security forces. The new system will reduce the average age of a soldier to 24-26 years in six to seven years. This will allow them to fight future wars more efficiently while handling sophisticated weapons and equipment. They will be adept at using modern automation tools, at least in their practical use, allowing them to function in a networked environment efficiently. The government has been trying to curb the armed forces’ rising pension and salary budget in recent years. Unlike other central government agencies, where all employees have been on the National Pension Scheme since 2004 and pay part of their salaries toward their pensions, the armed forces remain as hitherto. This is because military members retire early, mainly under the age of 40—compared to their counterparts who serve till 60. This is because they want a youthful profile for their forces. India’s defence budget is heavily skewed towards revenue, leaving fewer funds for weapons purchases and modernizing the armed forces with cutting-edge technologies. This scheme will help in cost-cutting for the government.
 

 

Why is there Objection to the Agnipath scheme?

 
Job security and pension are two significant issues being cited by protesters. Under the previous system, soldiers joined the forces for a period of 17 years, possibly extending their service for another four years, resulting in a lifelong pension. The new scheme, however, envisages just a four-year tenure for most soldiers, and Agniveer soldiers will not be eligible for pension benefits. Critics also argue that this scheme will leave many Agniveers risk-averse as many will be looking for a second career after leaving the Army. The government is introducing a new recruitment scheme to increase the number of jobs in the armed forces. The move comes as a response to widespread dissatisfaction with inflation and unemployment. The wholesale inflation has been at a three-decade high, the rupee has been hitting new lows each day, income inequality is rising, and young people are struggling to find jobs. Moreover, jobs in the Army are a significant source of employment for several persons from rural areas. That is why many opposition parties are against this scheme.
 
Criticism By Opposition
 
According to Opposition parties, the Indian defence sector is a critical part of the economy, with the manufacturing of arms and the employment of soldiers playing a vital role. However, the recent move to turn soldiers’ jobs into contractual employment may not be a motivation for aspirants who hope for job security, pension and honour. While the argument that defence should not be treated as an employment guarantee scheme is rhetorically impressive, the fact is that the sector plays a critical role in the economy and should be protected as such. 
 
According to Congress MP Rahul Gandhi, “It is unacceptable that the BJP government is compromising the dignity, traditions, valour, and discipline of our armed forces. The Agnipath Scheme reduces the operational effectiveness of our troops and is a disservice to the brave men and women who defend our country. The Chinese army is currently sitting on our land, and it is vital that we strengthen our army to protect our sovereignty. Our soldiers deserve better than this.”
 

 

Criticism By Defence Personnel 

 
Former Vice Chief of the Army Staff Lieutenant General (Retd) Raj Kadyan has already raised his opposition against the move to introduce a four-year tenure for Army officers, saying that this kind of scheme is fit for a low-risk organisation.Kadyan is not alone in his opposition to the four-year tenure. There are many who believe that this is not the best way to run an army. However, the government is adamant on going ahead with the plan.Some ex-army jawans have slammed the scheme, saying that it is a “wrong move” and that it is like “raising a private army”.
 
District President of the Ex-Servicemen Welfare Union in Faridkot, Havildar (Retd.) Premjit Singh Brar, said that no one will be interested in joining the Army on these terms and conditions. He added that if someone dies on the border, their family will not get any pension or any other benefits.
 
Many other ex-army jawans have also spoken out against the scheme, saying that it is a “disgrace” to those who have served the country for many years. They have called on the government to rethink the scheme, and to provide better benefits for those who are willing to serve their country.
 

 

The Government’s stance on Agnipath scheme

 
It is unfortunate that good intentions often get trapped in politics in India. Several decisions may seem unfair at present, but with time, they will help build the nation. This was stated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a press conference.
 
Minister of Tourism G Kishan Reddy was also present at the press conference and explained the training process for the Agniveers. He said that the people selected for this training program would be given skills training for various professions such as drivers, washermen, barbers, electricians, and others.The video clip of the remark became viral and caused a lot of discussion on social media.There is no doubt that the Minister of Defence Rajnath Singh is one of the most respected and influential leaders in our country. His opinions and thoughts are always taken seriously by the people. Recently, he spoke at a conclave about the new recruitment process in the armed forces. He said that it is bringing revolutionary changes in the recruitment process in the armed forces. Some people are spreading misunderstanding about it. Maybe, there could be some confusion among the people as it is a new scheme. But we should trust our leaders and give them a chance to prove themselves. We should also not forget that they are working for our country and our safety. We should all support them in their efforts to make our armed forces stronger.
 

 

Similar schemes in other Countries

 
In other countries, several programs can be considered tours of duty. The military or government often runs these types of programs, varying in length.
 
Some programs last as little as one year, while others can last as long as four. It is a prevalent thing these days. Every country has its way of keeping its citizens safe and secure. In some countries, they take the help of their Army to provide security to their citizens. The Army provides the soldiers with good training and allows them to face any situation. This kind of tour of duty, like the army program, is also followed in countries where citizens are required to do something for their country. For example, there are many countries where people do not have civil rights, so they can join the Army and benefit from this tour of duty like the army program. In some countries, people are responsible for protecting their land from any threat or danger, and this tour of duty, like the army program, helps them to do so. It is also suitable for many people who want to earn money by working for government organizations but cannot do so because they don’t have the required education or experience required by those organizations. The United States has the Army Reserve, a program that allows reservists to serve part-time in their communities. Other countries have similar programs, like those in the UK and Australia.
 

 

Conclusion

 
Many questions remain unanswered. Ideally, there should have been a pilot project that could have been assessed and implemented across the board. Agnipath, however, is being pushed down the throats of the forces. Time will tell if the armed forces and Agniveers can gain from it. There are pros and cons to every plan. As a student, one must focus on more preparation rather than burning public property. If you want a roll back, use legal channels rather than resorting to violence.
 

 
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