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Opinion | Agnipath: Key to younger armed forces

At present, the average age of an Indian soldiers is 32 years, but after the ‘Agnipath’ scheme is implemented, the average age will drop to 26 years.

Rajat Sharma Written by: Rajat Sharma @RajatSharmaLive New Delhi Updated on: June 15, 2022 16:42 IST
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Opinion | Agnipath: Key to younger armed forces 

The Centre on Tuesday unveiled an innovative scheme named ‘Agnipath’ for the recruitment of new soldiers to the army, navy and air force. Under this scheme, fresh recruits will serve for four years in the armed forces, and 75 per cent of them will be demobilized after getting an exit package called “Sewa Nidhi” to the tune of Rs 11.71 lakhs, for which both the Centre and recruits will make matching contributions.  The remaining 25 per cent will be inducted into the armed forces to serve another 15 years.

The scheme has been approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and the scheme was announced at a press conference addressed by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Defence Secretary and the chiefs of all three armed forces.

Under this scheme, the armed forces will recruit nearly 1.25 lakh youths every year. The recruitment process will begin within 90 days with the selection of 46,000 soldiers, sailors and airmen this year on an “all India, all class” basis. The new recruits named ‘Agniveers’ will get a monthly salary of Rs 30,000 to Rs 40,000, from which their Sewa Nidhi contribution will be deducted.

The aim of the ‘Agnipath’ scheme is to provide job opportunities to every youth, irrespective of class, gender, community or religion so that they can serve the armed forces. Selected recruits will initially be given six months of training, and they will serve the forces for the next three and a half years. 75 per cent of the recruits will be compulsorily retired after four years, while the remaining 25 per cent will be given another six months’ training before they are permanently inducted into the forces.

Under the ‘Agnipath’ scheme, nearly 1,35,000 youths will be recruited to the army in the next three years, nearly 9,000 youths will be recruited to the Navy and nearly 14,000 youths will be recruited to the air force in the next three years. 

Replying to objections raised by some opposition leaders and defence experts, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said, the recruits after completion of four years’ service will get a diploma, they will be given ‘credit scores’ for pursuing higher education, and the Centre will help them in getting new jobs, by imparting new skills to them. Many of these youths can be inducted into central para-military forces, and also into the corporate sector. 

The minimum age qualification is 17 years six months, and the maximum age limit is 21 years. After selection, they will undergo six months’ training and will then be sent to regiments or units, where they will serve for another three and a half years. 

Explaining the process, the service chiefs said, when the new recruits will retire after four years, the size of the armed force will not drop steeply, but there will be a gradual reduction, and the Indian army will become a ‘lean and mean machine’, ready for modern warfare.  

At present, the average age of Indian soldiers is 32 years, but after the ‘Agnipath’ scheme is implemented, the average age will drop to 26 years. Experts say this drop in the average age of Indian soldiers will impart more speed and agility to the armed forces. 

The main aim of the ‘Agnipath’ scheme is to slash the burgeoning salary and pension bills in the armed forces and to induct tech-savvy youth who can take part in future warfare. Once the youths are demobilized after four years of service, they can help in nation-building by bringing discipline and military ethos to society. 

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said the return of skilled, disciplined, motivated and patriotic Agniveers in civil society will surely prove to be a great asset and a ‘win-win proposition’ for the nation. “Agniveers will be given priority in jobs by central ministries, departments and public sector undertakings, apart from state governments”, he promised. 

Army Chief Gen. Manoj Pandey said the aim is to make the Army a future-ready fighting force capable of facing multiple challenges.” He promised that the Army’s operational capabilities and preparedness along the borders, and its ability to deal with internal security challenges will be fully maintained, during the implementation of the ‘Agnipath’ scheme. 

The new recruitment scheme is no doubt an innovative and good step. It will provide job opportunities to millions of youths. These youths will get training in the army and will later serve the nation by bringing discipline to civil society.

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