The government said on Tuesday that it will establish a new Agnipath scheme, under which soldiers or ‘Agniveers’ will be engaged for only four years.
The initiative, launched by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and three service chiefs, will relaunch the Army, Navy, and Indian Air Force (IAF) recruitment processes, which have been delayed for the past two years. On Tuesday, the cabinet committee on security gave its approval. Prime Minister Narendra Modi chairs the committee.
Youth between the ages of 17.5 and 21 will be recruited into the three services under the scheme. They will have a six-month training program. It will gradually open to men and women, depending on service-specific requirements.
Their enlistment will be done on a ‘All India All Class’ basis, and they will have their own rank and insignia in the Armed Forces.
After four years of service, up to 25% of those who leave might apply voluntarily to rejoin the military on a regular basis, based on merit and organizational requirements.
Their monthly compensation would be between Rs 30,000 and Rs 40,000, according to News18, plus extra risk and hardship allowances.
According to the News Agency, the scheme includes a Seva Nidhi contributing package, in which troops will contribute 30% of their monthly emoluments and the government will match that amount. They would receive Rs 11.7 lakh (plus interest) at the end of the four years, which will be tax-free.
They would be paid nearly Rs 1 crore if they die while on duty, including the Seva Nidhi package and full salary for the time they were unable to serve. They will earn Rs 44 lakh in the event of disability, based on the percentage of disability.
In 90 days, recruitment rallies will begin, and around 46,000 personnel will be recruited under the scheme this year, including 40,000 openings in the Army and 3,000 in the IAF and Navy.
They will be rewarded with higher educational credits, lateral absorption, and other bridge courses when they are freed after four years, according to the administration.
According to the government, the scheme will ensure that the Indian Armed Forces have a youthful profile and will transform them into a tech-savvy and modern fighting force, as well as ensuring the availability of disciplined, motivated, and skilled youth from a variety of backgrounds in civil society after four years, who will contribute to nation building.
The full picture would emerge in a few days, according to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who told the media that many states and ministries in the central government are trying to ensure that Agniveers get preference in jobs after their tenure is through.
General Manoj Pande, the Indian Army’s chief of staff, stated that the system would result in “paradigm shifts” in the Indian Army’s human resource management.
“It will enhance the Army’s youthful profile by lowering the average age of a soldier from 32 to 26 years,” he said. “It will also increase the Army’s technical threshold by recruiting Agniveers through ITIs and other technical institutes, and it will increase the availability of medically and physically fit personnel at the cutting edge level of field units.”
According to him, the initiative would increase the availability of soldiers in the field Army, provide a larger recruitment base, and give youngsters from all parts of the nation equal possibilities to join the Army.
According to General Pande, the screening and selection process, which is based on a sound, transparent, fair, and strong assessment system, will ensure that the Army keeps the “best of the best” for a longer period of time.
“We will implement a fair, transparent, and scientific method for screening the initial intake for four years, and apply similar yardsticks to select those who will be re-enrolled,” he said, adding that the Army’s operational capabilities and preparedness along the borders, as well as its ability to deal with internal security challenges, will be fully maintained during the scheme’s implementation.
He said Agniveers will be selected on a ‘All India All Class’ basis in response to a question.
He said that 75 percent of Army units are already made up of ‘All India All Class’ soldiers. “In the future, the class-based character of certain fixed-composition units and regiments is projected to morph into a ‘All India All Class’ structure,” he stated.
Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhari, speaking on the scheme, said the Agniveers who would join the IAF will internalize the service’s basic values through the specific training they will receive, as well as the force’s “robust and resilient” unit ethos and work culture.
“The IAF is looking to tap into this source of dynamic young people, train and expose them to the IAF’s high-tech environment, and hone their skills for future employment,” he said, adding that the new scheme allows the IAF to tap into the country’s vast pool of talent and prepares them for further specialized training in aviation and non-aviation skills if they join as regular air warriors.
He claims that the Agniveers will receive extensive training and exposure to planes, weapons, and sophisticated ground systems. He believes it will be a win-win situation for the IAF, with Agniveers having a variety of job opportunities after their four-year service and those joining as permanent military members.
Indian Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar described the move as “transformational,” saying it had been thoroughly debated and scrutinized by all parties.
The Navy, he said, will make sure the Agniveers gain hands-on experience with its cutting-edge warships, submarines, aircraft carriers, combat aircraft, cutting-edge weapons and sensors, IT systems, and networked systems. “This experience will serve them well for the rest of their life,” he added, adding that it will also help society and community development.