India for Agnipath

Satish Singh Manhas
Agnipath, the new recruitment scheme for Indian army which is the first of its kind in the country, although successfully prevalent in many other countries world over has stoked a debate and controversy as well but by a fringe, vested interests and ill motivated. The Government says it is the need of the hour, trying to compensate the two years recruitment break owing to covid-19 and generating employment besides imbibing a spirit of nationalism amongst the youth along with the job, insurance, security and good future post demobilisation etc. It provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the youth to serve their country and contribute to national development as well as personal sustenance. As a result, the army will have maximum young force and its fighting capability will also be enhanced. Post demobilisation, this will make well-disciplined and skilled youth with military ethos available in the civil society for multiple tasks, even need based at times.
So, what is required at the moment to douse the anger created by vested interests is the need to reach to the youth to explain the advantages of this scheme. There is an inbuilt flexibility in the scheme, so there is a possibility for its review in favour of agniveers in the future as it progresses with time. Rejecting it out rightly will be a death knell for the hope of aspiring nationalist youth. It will help change the old less tech savy profile of soldiers and make the army compatible with the young demographic profile of the nation. It is an opportunity for the youth to don the camouflage and serve the nation. It is an effort to improve our competitive capabilities keeping in view the increasing influence of China and Pakistan on our borders. The Government has not ruled any mid-course correction. So, all the disturbance and destruction in the name of Agnipath is unacceptable. This scheme will definitely increase our Combat efficiency to a great advantage. Disciplined and skilled army trained youth with high ethos will be an asset for the nation post demobilisation.
Moreover as is know at present, 70% of the army comes from 168 out of 775 districts, agnipath will give an opportunity to all throughout the country. It will be a pan India recruitment drive. More opportunity prior to 24 years of age in today’s unemployment and underemployment era and lakhs in bank account is nothing less than a blessing. This will be miracle for the unemployed youth. But what is required at the moment is all the ambassadors of peace, national development, good will and social security must have a reason to come forward to explain the benefits to the misguided youth as opposition can’t not be blamed for its fixed role.
Although it will be a no rank, no pension scheme but imagine a large number of youth who otherwise look for jobs in this age will get it and that too in the Indian army. As a result of this initiative, many can be saved from drug abuse and other social evils. As a few from amongst know that in this current financial year, the GOI has allocated 1, 19,696 crore for pensions and 1, 63,453 crore for salaries which is 54% of the total allocation for defence ministry. This shows the sincerity of GOI towards its army and army men.
Agnipath is the outcome of such a policy and national, political and defence thought process. Thoughtless nullification will be dangerous. As many nations like Israel have made army training compulsory for all the youth, this initiative gives an opportunity to the youth to learn discipline, nationalism and what it means by guarding the national frontiers. Agnipath has a deeper meaning than getting a job, earning money and making career etc.
Agniveer is a pan India merit-based recruitment scheme for enrolling soldiers, airmen & sailors. All those recruited under the ‘Agnipath’ scheme will be called ‘Agniveers’. The ‘Agniveers will get a monthly salary ranging from 30,000-40,000 and after successful completion of 4 years 25% will be inducted into regular cadres of armed forces to serve another 15 years and the remaining 75% will be demobilised after 4 years with an exit package of around 12lakh and a skill certificate which will assist in post release job opportunities.
All Agniveers will be entitled to awards, medals and insurance cover like the regular cadre of soldiers, airmen and sailors. Every Agniveer will be entitled to a one time ex-gratia of Rs 44/25/15 lakhs for 100%/75%/50% disability respectively received during those 4 years of active service. Besides, Government will help rehabilitate soldiers who leave the services after 4 yrs. They will be provided with skill certificates & bridge courses. To enhance the future career prospects of the ‘Agniveers’, Ministry of Education has announced the launch of a special 3 years skill-based Bachelor’s degree programme that will recognise the skill training received by them during their tenure in the defence establishments. Army, Navy and Air Force will sign a Memorandum of Understand (MoU) with IGNOU for the implementation of the programme. The degree will be offered by the IGNOU & will be recognised both in India and abroad for employment and education.
Agniveers will get priority when recruiting for the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) and Assam rifles. States including UP, MP and Haryana have already announced that preference will be given in state police forces and related services after completing 4 years in service. Eventually all the states will follow the suit and center will also come up with plans to enhance career opportunities for Agniveers post demobilisation. At the age of 23 having corpus fund of 11-12 lakhs will come a handy for all Agniveers and encourage them for entrepreneurship or they can do any other job of their choice or can also apply for regular Army cadre. So where is the loss, a single loss!