Agneepath or Agnipath Recruitment Scheme was launched on Tuesday by Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. The Agneepath proposal would add 46,000 soldiers, sailors, and airmen to the Indian Army, Navy, and Air Force, resulting in uptick in recruitment for the Indian Armed Forces. This was announced at a news conference after the cabinet committee approved the idea.
The ‘Agniveers’ will be paid a monthly wage of Rs 30,000 to Rs 40,000, with 75 percent of them receiving a ‘Seva Nidhi’ exit package of Rs 11.71 lakh, half of which will come from their own efforts. The remaining 25% will be enrolled into the military forces’ regular cadres, where they would serve for another 15 years. Women will be “progressively opened” to the Agnipath plan based on service requirements.
It is a “transformative initiative,” according to Rajnath Singh, to bring a more youthful profile to the over 14-lakh strong armed forces, with the average age of soldiers gradually being reduced from 32 to 24-26, as well as to make them modern, tech-savvy, and well-equipped to deal with the myriad challenges ahead. “Don’t bet against the plan. “It will improve national security,” Singh stated.
The administration aims to have more money for military modernization and infusion of cutting-edge technologies by decreasing the soaring pay and pension expenditures, which account for over half of the yearly defence budget.
After four years of military duty, Singh believes that returning talented, disciplined, motivated, and patriotic Agniveers to civil life will be a huge asset and a “win-win proposition” for the country.
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However, there is concern that the 35,000 “trained-to-kill” soldiers who are demobilised each year may become dangerous if they remain idle and dissatisfied. “It will lead to societal militarization… Former DGMO Lt-General Vinod Bhatia (retd) commented, “It’s not a good concept.”
Singh, on his part, said Agniveers will be given priority in jobs by central ministries, departments and PSUs as well as state governments. General Manoj Pande said the senior military leadership was “fully convinced of the benefits” of the Agnipath scheme, which aims to make the Army “a future-ready fighting force capable of meeting multiple challenges across the entire spectrum of conflict”. “I want to assure you that during the implementation and stabilisation of the Agni path scheme, the Army’s operational capabilities and preparedness along the borders and the ability to deal with internal security challenges will be fully maintained,” he said.
The IAF would provide the Agniveers with a comprehensive variety of training and exposure in aviation, weapons, and sophisticated ground systems, according to Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhari. “Those who reintegrate into civil life will be ‘job ready,'” he stated.
Women sailors will be included in the Navy’s Agnipath scheme, which will provide the armed forces with “a wider talent pool” and prove to be a “positive development” for human resource management in their ranks, according to Admiral R Hari Kumar. Women officers are already deployed on frontline warships.