The Indian military unveiled a new scheme for recruitment of young men and women into the three-armed forces called “AGNIPATH”, which the civil and military leaders are hoping will transform the forces in coming years. 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.
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 our society who are more apt in utilising contemporary technological trends and, after a short tenure 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.
Earlier in the day, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) approved the transformative scheme ‘AGNIPATH’ and the scheme was launched in the presence of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and the Chiefs of the three Services – Indian Army, Indian Air Force, and Indian Navy.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh hailed the AGNIPATH recruitment scheme as a “transformative initiative” that will bring about a transformational change and open opportunities for the nation’s youth. The AGNIPATH scheme will strengthen India’s security while also providing a youthful profile to the Armed Forces. This scheme will increase employment opportunities with new skills in different sectors, said Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, adding, that it would help train youth for new technologies and improve their health.
Under the AGNIPATH scheme, the Agniveers will be recruited on merit, between the ages of 17.5 to 21 years, in the Forces under respective Services Acts for a period of four years, said Lt General Anil Puri, Additional Secretary, Department of Military Affairs (DMA). On completion of four years, the soldiers will get an opportunity to apply voluntarily for the regular cadre. Based on merit, up to 25 per cent shall be selected from that batch, Puri added during the presentation of the scheme. Speaking about salary, he further said the recruits would be given good pay and an exit retirement package after a service of four years. After four years of service, soldiers will be paid a one-time ‘SevaNidhi’ package, exempted from income tax.
In the first year, Rs 30,000 will be the monthly salary package, of which Rs 9,000 will be deducted as a contribution to the ‘Agniveer’ corpus. After their service period, the troops will receive a severance package of over Rs 11 lakh. However, those retained will serve in the defence services for another 15 years and be entitled to pension.
The Defence Minister also announced that the scheme will allow women to be inducted progressively. The Chief of Naval Staff Admiral R Hari Kumar said that there will be women sailors and all the requirements and arrangements have been completed to welcome women in the Navy.
Speaking on the occasion, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari said the Indian Air Force is looking to tap into the youth’s ability to adapt to a fast-changing technology-based environment and hone their skills for future employment. The scheme also allows IAF to assess both aptitude and attitude of ‘Agniveers’ and prepare them for further specialized training in aviation and non-aviation skills required by IAF if they opt to join as regular air warriors, he added.
Army chief General Manoj Pande said the AGNIPATH scheme aims to make the Army a future-ready fighting force capable of meeting multiple challenges across the full spectrum of conflict. It will increase technical threshold of the Army by recruiting Agniveers, he added.
Concurring with the Defence Minister’s view, Army Chief described the “AGNIPATH Scheme” as a transformational reform for the Army and the Nation that aims to bring about paradigm changes in the Human Resource Management of the Indian Army. The scheme, one of the most significant initiatives, aims to make the Army a future-ready fighting force, capable of meeting multiple challenges, across the full spectrum of conflict”.
“I want to assure you that during the implementation and stabilization of the AGNIPATH Scheme, Army’s operational capabilities and preparedness, along the borders and the ability to deal with internal security challenges will be fully maintained,” he further added.
An important issue of critical relevance will be the absorption of released Agniveers in Central Armed Police Forces, State Police forces, other government departments and corporate India. With skilling and educational qualification upgradation being inbuilt into the scheme, employability post-release, will be enhanced. The country will also benefit from a more committed workforce in the civil walks of life. The scheme, besides reducing the age profile of the Armed forces, will ensure greater commitment and professionalism from its rank and file