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AGNIPATH SCHEME

Amid meetings being held by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) partners to form a government, two allies of the BJP said on Thursday that the new government should review the Agnipath scheme for short-term recruitments to the armed forces.

THE AGNIPATH SCHEME

The Agnipath scheme was announced on June 14, 2022, and is in force with the initial batch of Agniveers, already inducted in armed forces units after completion of their recruit training.

IS THIS SUCCESSFUL?

There are certain apprehensions related to Physical fitness, Organisational solidarity, etc but as of now the initial feedback on Agniveers from the units in terms of motivation levels, intelligence, physical standards is by and large positive.

AGNIPATH SCHEME

It is a major defence policy reform pertaining to Human Resource policy of the three Services.

  • Idea of a short-term recruitment model or ‘Tour of Duty’ (ToD) was first mooted around two years back for the selection of officers and jawans, for a limited number of vacancies.
  • Youth (from 17.5 years to 23 age group) selected under this scheme will be known as Agniveers who will be enrolled for a period of four years. They would form a distinct rank in the Armed Forces, different from any other existing ranks.
  • Upon the completion of four years of service, Agniveers will be offered an opportunity to apply for permanent enrolment in the Armed Forces. (Up to 25% of each specific batch will be enrolled in regular cadre based on objective criteria including performance during their four-year engagement period.)

PAY PACKAGE OF AGNIVEERS

30% of monthly pay will go in the Seva Nidhi. This amount will be reimbursed (with interest) at the end of 4 years period.

(Accumulation of 10.04 lakhs, but disbursement of 11.71 lakhs)

CONCERNS

  • Building cohesion: Time period for Agnipath is too short to build cohesion as it is built over a long period of living, training and experiencing rigours of field/operations/high altitude/counter-insurgency tenures together.
  • Might not attract best candidates: As they are likely to apply for more permanent avenues like police or paramilitary forces first. This might result in young aspirants opting for the army as second or third choice.
  • Unfair to the potential recruit: As the absence of a continued employment guarantee at the expiry of four years when he’s still in his 20s and without the skillsets or credentials required to thrive in the civilian/corporate world, could be demoralizing.
  • Less training time: It reportedly takes two to three years to train a member of the army, but as a part of the Agnipath scheme, soldiers will only be trained for six months.
  • Potentially militarize the society: With their ambitions of serving in the military for a full 15 years, frustrated and unemployed, the demobilised Agniveers could fall prey to the lure of crime syndicates and radical political outfits.

GLOBAL PRACTICES IN THIS CONTEXT

  • Russian military is a hybrid format combining a traditional cadre-and-reserve conscript system (includes one year of training and one year of service) and a contract-professional system.
  • In Israel period of active-duty conscript is 32 months for men and 24 months for women, followed by a decades-long period of compulsory reserve duty.
  • For French soldiers there are two types of enlistment: 1 year contract or 3-5 years contract (both renewable)

 

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