iNDICA NEWS BUREAU-
Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh has announced a new scheme called ‘Agnipath’ that will allow Indian youth to serve in the Indian Armed Forces for 4 years.
In a press meeting on Tuesday, the minister said that the scheme has been approved by the Modi cabinet.
The candidates, who will serve the Armed Forces under this scheme, will be called ‘Agniveers’.
According to the Indian media, about 46000 youth will be recruited through the scheme in its maiden year.
Singh further stated, “The scheme will increase employment opportunities and aim to create a youthful profile of the Armed Forces.”
‘Agniveers’ will be offered a salary package of Rs 4.76 lakh in the first year which goes up to Rs 6.92 lakh in the fourth and final year, reported several Indian media houses.
Candidates applying to join the Armed Forces under this scheme will have to be between 17.5 to 21 years.
The scheme is being hailed as an initiative that will strike an effective balance between youthful and experienced personnel in the Armed Forces.
The ‘Agnipath’ scheme has been brought to strengthen India’s security, Singh added.
The youths enrolled through this scheme will be provided with a non-contributory Life Insurance Cover of Rs 48 lakh for the time they spend in service.
Post-retirement the ‘Agniveers’ will be given a one-time ‘Seva Nidhi’ package of Rs. 11.71 lakh which will be exempted from income tax.
The scheme has drawn a mixed response. Several veterans who were in service stated their reservations about the scheme. Former Chief Minister of Punjab Capt Amarinder Singh told The Indian Express “What is the rationale” behind the scheme “I do not understand.”
However, retired Armymen expressed different opinions about the scheme and the short-term involvement of the youth in the armed forces.
Talking to IANS, Major General (retd) P.K. Saighal said that the Indian Army is one of the best and most powerful forces in the world.
However, he felt that recruiting youth through the Agnipath model for three to four years is not right for the forces.
“A person takes around six to seven years to become a complete soldier. But these youth will be out of job before that,” Saighal said.
Terming those who will be selected through this process as ‘tourists’, Saighal said they will get just around six months if training which is not enough to understand the essence of Indian Army.
“Soldiers risk their lives to serve the country, but why will they take such risks and show courage and patriotism when they know that they will be in the job for just four years,” he asked.
Saighal added that if they have to work for four years, the last year of their service will be spent searching for another job.
“In such a situation, they won’t be able to show dedication towards their work,” Saighal said.
Speaking to IANS, Major General (retd) Ashok Kumar said, “The Agnipath scheme is important and useful for both the armed forces and the nation. The forces will get younger candidates, bringing down the average age of the units from around 32 years at present to 26 years.”
“Those selected for enrolment in the armed forces as regular cadre will have better skills to operate weapons, lead the units and enhance the capabilities for future wars,” Kumar told IANS.