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Indian govt announces Agnipath scheme for recruiting youth in Armed Forces (Analysis)

IANS | June 15, 2022 11:15 AM

NEW DELHI: In a transformative reform, the Indian government has cleared the 'Agnipath' scheme for recruitment of youth in the Armed Forces. The youth selected under this scheme will be known as 'Agniveers'. Agnipath allows patriotic and motivated youth to serve in the Armed Forces for a period of four years.

Unveiling the scheme, Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said, "Under Agnipath scheme, Indian youngsters will be provided an opportunity to serve in the armed forces as Agniveers."

Agniveers will be given an attractive customised monthly package along with risk and hardship allowances as applicable in the three services. On completion of the engagement period of four years, Agniveers will be paid one time 'SevaNidhi' package which shall comprise their contribution, including accrued interest thereon and matching contribution from the government equal to the accumulated amount of their contribution including interest.

The 'Seva Nidhi' will be exempt from Income Tax. There shall be no entitlement to gratuity and pensionary benefits. Agniveers will be provided non-contributory Life Insurance Cover of Rs 48 lakh for the duration of their engagement period in the Indian Armed Forces.

"The avenues and opportunities that will open up for their progress in the civil world after Agniveer tenure would certainly be a big plus towards nation building. Moreover, the 'Seva Nidhi' of approximately Rs 11.71 lakh would aid the Agniveer to pursue his/her future dreams without the financial pressure, which is normally the case for young people from the financially deprived strata of society, " a communique from the Ministry of Defence stated.

The Agnipath scheme has been designed to enable a youthful profile of the Armed Forces. It will provide an opportunity to the youth who may be keen to don the uniform by attracting young talent from the society who are more in tune with contemporary technological trends and plough back skilled, disciplined and motivated manpower into the society.

As for the Armed Forces, it will enhance the youthful profile of the Armed Forces and provide a fresh lease of 'Josh' and 'Jazba' whilst at the same time bring about a transformational shift towards a more tech savvy Armed Forces -- which is indeed the need of the hour. It is envisaged that average age profile of Indian Armed forces would come down by about four-five years by implementation of this scheme.

Enrolment will be undertaken through an online centralised system for all three services with specialised rallies and campus interviews from recognised technical institutes such as Industrial Training Institutes and National Skills Qualifications Framework, among others. Enrolment will be based on 'All India All Class' basis and the eligible age will be in range from 17.5 to 21 years. Agniveers will meet the medical eligibility conditions laid down for enrolment in the armed forces as applicable to respective categories/trades. The educational qualification for Agniveers will remain in vogue for enrollment in various categories.

This is a major defence policy reform introduced by the Indian Government to usher in a new era in the human resource policy of the three services. The policy, which comes into immediate effect, will now govern the enrolment for the three services.

During this period of service to the nation, the Agniveers will be imparted with various military skills and experience, discipline, physical fitness, leadership qualities, courage and patriotism. Post this stint of four years, the Agniveers will be infused into the civil society where they can contribute immensely towards the nation building process. The skills gained by each Agniveer will be recognised in a certificate to form part of his unique resume. Agniveers, on completion of the four- year tenure in the prime of their youth, will be mature and self-disciplined with the realisation to become better version of himself/herself both professionally as also personally, the communique stated.

It added that the individuals, selected for enrolment in the Armed Forces as regular cadre, would be required to serve for a further engagement period of minimum 15 years and would be governed by the existing terms and conditions of service of Junior Commissioned Officers/Other Ranks in Indian Army and their equivalent in Indian Navy and Indian Air Force and that of Non Combatant enrolled in the Indian Air Force, as amended from time-to-time.

Under the Agnipath scheme, the Agniveers will be enrolled in the Forces under respective Service Acts 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, based on organisational requirement and policies promulgated by the Armed Forces from time-to-time, Agniveers will be offered an opportunity to apply for permanent enrolment in the Armed Forces.

These applications will be considered in a centralised manner based on objective criteria including performance during their four-year engagement period and up to 25 per cent of each specific batch of Agniveers will be enrolled in regular cadre of the Armed Forces.

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