Agnipath Scheme

Government announced a recruitment scheme for Indian youth to serve in Armed Forces. The scheme is called AGNIPATH, and youth selected under this scheme will be known as Agniveers. AGNIPATH allows patriotic and motivated youth to serve in Armed Forces for a period of four years.

Key Facts

  • Agniveers will be enrolled in Forces under respective service Acts for a period of four years.
  • They would form a distinct rank in Armed Forces, different from any other existing ranks.
  • Upon completion of four years of service, based on organisational requirement and policies promulgated by Armed Forces from time-to-time, Agniveers will be offered an opportunity to apply for permanent enrolment in Armed Forces.
  • Selection will be exclusive jurisdiction of Armed Forces. 46,000 Agniveers will be recruited this year.
  • Enrolment will be based on “All India All Class” basis and eligible age will be in range from 17.5 to 21 years. 
  • SevaNidhi Fund: Contribution made by recruits will be around Rs 5.02 Lakh, which will be matched by the Government. At the exit, Agniveers will get Rs 11.71 lakh as SevaNidhi fund. The amount paid to the Agniveers as SevaNidhi will be exempt from Income Tax.

Benefits of Agnipath Scheme

  • For Youth: Allow young people to get employed, support their family and wear the uniform. It will inculcate values of discipline, sacrifice, teamwork, physical fitness, ingrained loyalty for the country and brotherhood. They will be provided with adequate re-employment opportunities for those returning to society and could emerge as role models for the youth. Agniveers will get preference in PSUs, and State Governments’ jobs.
  • For the society: After serving the tenure, youth will be able to contribute to other sectors more effectively. Trained personnel will be available to boost national security in times of external threats, internal threats and natural disasters.
  • Keeping the Army youthful
  • Aims to reduce average age of Indian army. Presently, more than 60% of men are above 30 years of age.
  • Currently, number of junior commissioned officers (JCOs) and equivalent ranks is disproportionately higher due to regular promotions.
  • Recruiting ever greater numbers simply to keep the armed forces youthful is unsustainable. Agnipath will help keep in check the absolute numbers while ensuring a constant stream of young recruits.
  • Modernizing Military
  • Provide army with youthful tech savvy soldiers.
  • Across the globe, there is a trend towards reduction in the number of personnel and emphasis on increasing capital expenditure on modern weapons and equipment.
  • China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) underwent a massive demobilisation from 1980s onwards, bringing down total numbers from 4.5 million to about 2 million, with focus on modernisation.
  • In many modern armed forces, service period ranges from 2 to 8 years with options for active and reservist service.
  • Israeli army has service of 30 months and 22 months respectively for men and women yet enjoys a reputation for being among the best in the world. USA and UK have shorter duration contracts. France has short duration contracts of between one and 10 years depending on specialisation
  • Budgetary Constraint: Ballooning salary and pension bills have placed enormous stress on the availability of funds for military modernisation.
  • Modern Warfare: Contactless warfare in the digital era means that future wars will be fought with artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, stand-off weapons, cyber space and space based ISR (Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance) playing a key role. Agniveers will inject additional skill sets into the armed forces, besides bringing down the average age by 4-5 years.
  • Changes colonial set up of army: In the colonial era, British used a divide-and-rule policy, including in armed forces. Mixed regiments based on AIAC intake are in keeping with the changing times.
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  • No pilot project to test the scheme
  • Will dilute professionalism, military ethos & fighting spirit
  • Takes 7-8 years to become a fully trained combat-ready soldierAgniveers will be risk-averse, with Lead to the bulk looking for a second careerWill hit the basic ethos of ‘Naam, Namak and Nishaan’ (reputation of battalion, fidelity & ensign/colours) for which soldiers fight
  • Lead to militarisation of society with around 35,000 combat-trained youth being rendered jobless every year.

Way forward

National unity, camaraderie and bonding, including in armed forces, should not be predicated on caste, community, religion, language or provincial affiliation but on the more equitable notion of being a patriotic Indian. Agnipath scheme attempts to address this requirement.

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