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Union government announces scheme to recruit youth for the Armed Forces for a four-year period

Print edition : Aug 04, 2022 T+T-

Union government announces scheme to recruit youth for the Armed Forces for a four-year period

(From left) Chief of the Army Staff General Manoj Pande, Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral R. Hari Kumar during a press conference  to announce the new Agnipath scheme, in New Delhi on June 14.

(From left) Chief of the Army Staff General Manoj Pande, Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral R. Hari Kumar during a press conference to announce the new Agnipath scheme, in New Delhi on June 14. | Photo Credit: MONEY SHARMA

The government today announced a radical recruitment scheme for the Armed Forces called Agnipath, which aims to recruit youth for a four-year period. The plan envisages a fixed salary and then severance with a fixed amount with no pensionary benefits. The recruits will be called Agniveers and they will be taken on board with a six-month training.

Unveiling the scheme, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said the scheme would revolutionise the military and make it more tech-savvy, youthful and combat-worthy. The three services Chiefs were present on the occasion.

Giving details of the scheme, Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral R. Hari Kumar said youth between the ages of 17.5 to 21 years will be eligible under this scheme. Their educational qualification will remain the same as for entry through other avenues. The selection will be through a centralised online system and the process will begin in the next 90 days.

The first batch of Agniveers will be ready by July 2023. Women will also be inducted through this scheme and about 45,000 youth will be selected. Defence experts said that the scheme was basically meant to employ youth but without spending too much on salary, pension, and other benefits. A veteran said: “This in turn means preparing half-baked soldiers and pushing them into the battlefield without complete preparation.”

The youth will be paid a monthly salary of Rs.30,000 to Rs.40,000 and their severance package will be between Rs.11-12 lakh after a four-year period. They will have no pensionary benefits. But about a fourth of these youth will be recalled for a 15-year tenure, based on a reassessment of their capabilities. Provision, however, has been made for loss of life or disability while on duty.

Sources in the Armed Forces told this correspondent that the aim of the scheme was to cut down on the bulging salary and pension liabilities of the government, which accounts for more than half the defence budget. The move, which is called tour de duty, has invited protest from within the ranks ever since it was selectively leaked in the media in March 2020, but the government has paid no heed to the objections. The private sector, however, has welcomed the move. ASSOCHAM had lauded the idea when it was mooted and industrialist Anand Mahindra had tweeted that he would only be too happy to welcome such a well-trained and disciplined work force in his companies after their exit from service.