The Cabinet Committee on Security approved the experimental scheme of ‘Agnipath’ on May 14, 2022. It will allow Indian youth to become a part of Indian armed forces for a period of four years. ‘Agnipath’ is mainly recruitment process for individuals below the rank of officer. The young recruits who will be selected through Indian Army Agnipath scheme will be called ‘Agniveers’.
Agniveers will get a good pay package and a retirement package after four years of service. Presently, the average age of retirement is 32 years but gradually it will be decreased down to 26 years. The youths falling in the age group of 17.5 years to 23 years can apply for this scheme of entry. They will be in service for four year including training. After four years of service 25% will be retained and rest of 75% will be retired. The personnel who will retire after 4 years of service will get Rs 11.71 lakh as a lump sum amount and reservation is different paramilitary forces.
Package of Agniveers
In four years of service the Agniveers will get a starting salary of Rs 30,000 and it will rise up to Rs 40,000 by the end of the four-year service. They will get additional benefits also along with the salary. During this four year 30% of the salary will be deducted from each month’s salary of Agniveers and Government of India will give same matching amount. After four years of service Agniveers will get the total money (Personal Contribution + GOI Contribution) along with interest. They will get Rs 11.71 lakh as a lump sum amount and it will be tax free.
Purpose of the Scheme
The main purpose of introducing this entry scheme is to save the pension expenses. In present day military modernization cost is very high, especially procurement of modern equipment for military. A big amount of defense budget is spent to pay pension and salaries of defense personnel and the remaining is not enough for procurement of defense equipments to modernize the military. So, it is clear that by recruiting youth candidates for four years and giving them lump sum amount after completion of their tenure, government actually want to cut the pension expense. This is one of the main reason government had introduced Agnipath scheme.
The other objective is to make the military more youthful by recruiting young candidates. They want to enhance the youthful profile of the armed forces for increased risk-taking ability. It will provide opportunity to our youth to serve the Nation in uniform for a short time.
After introducing the scheme, it had triggered agitations and protests across the country, even several retired senior armed forces personnel said that this scheme will be a disaster for the Armed Forces.
Major General (Retd) Harsha Kakar tweeted and appealed to reassess the scheme. Major General (Retd) GD Bakshi also had suggested to raise defense budget instead of Agniveer scheme.
Protest for Agnipath scheme became violent in several parts of Bihar like Chhapra, Gopalganj and Kaimur districts. Youths protested by lying down on railway tracks and blocked roads. Everyone wanted the old recruitment system back and withdrawal of Agnipath scheme. Trains and busses were vandalized, including a ruling BJP MLA pelted with stones in Bihar by Army job aspirants.
One rank one pension scheme was introduced in 2015. Under this scheme all defense personnel retiring from same rank will be entitled to same pension irrespective of their date of retirement. This OROP is the main reason for designing this scheme. Rise in pension and salary burden was affecting the modernization of armed forces. Agnipath scheme will cut the average age limit from 32 to 26 and also reduce the burden of paying pension.
But lastly I can say If a Member of Parliament or a Member of Legislative Assembly is eligible for pension for their 5 years of service then why not the Armed forces, who are fighting with enemies in mountains of Ladakh, deserts of Rajasthan or in deep forests of North East. They are away from their families and friends and fighting for nation. Government should rethink about this Agnipath scheme. This scheme will no doubt affect the morale of armed forces.