Recruitments to the Armed Forces will undergo a massive change with the government on Tuesday launching a new Agnipath scheme, under which soldiers or ‘Agniveers’ would be hired for only four years.
The scheme announced by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and three service chiefs will kickstart the process of recruitment into the Army, Navy and Indian Air Force (IAF), which continues to remain stalled for two years now. It was cleared by the cabinet committee on security on Tuesday. The committee is chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Under the scheme, youth between ages 17.5 and 21 will be recruited into the three services. They will have a training period of six months. It will be open to men and also to women progressively based on service-specific requirements.
Their enrolment will be based on ‘All India All Class’ basis and they will form a separate rank in the Armed Forces and will carry a distinct insignia.
After exiting the services after four years, up to 25% of them can apply voluntarily to join the services on a regular basis, depending on merit and organisational requirements.
As reported first by News18, their remuneration would be Rs 30,000-Rs 40,000 per month, aside from other risk and hardship allowances.
News18 had reported that the scheme has a Seva Nidhi contributory package, under which the soldiers will contribute 30% of their monthly emoluments and the government will contribute the same amount. On completion of four years, they will receive Rs 11.7 lakh (with interest) and this will be exempt from income tax.
In the instance of death on duty, they will receive over Rs 1 crore, including Seva Nidhi package and full pay of the period they could not serve. In the instance of disability, they will receive Rs 44 lakh based on the percentage of disability.
Recruitment rallies will commence in 90 days and about 46,000 soldiers will be recruited under the scheme this year, of which 40,000 vacancies will be for the Army and 3,000 for the IAF and Navy.
Aside from the financial package, they will be incentivised with higher educational credits, lateral absorption and other bridging courses when they are released after four years, the government said.
As per the government, the scheme will ensure a youthful profile of the Indian Armed Forces and will transform the Armed Forces into a tech-savvy and modern fighting force, while ensuring the availability of disciplined, motivated and skilled youth from diverse backgrounds in civil society after four years, who will contribute to nation building.
Defence minister Rajnath Singh told the media that various states and ministries in the central government are working towards ensuring that Agniveers get preference in jobs after they complete their tenure and the full picture will emerge in a few days.
ARMY, NAVY, IAF CHIEFS ON THE SCHEME
Army chief General Manoj Pande said the scheme would bring paradigm changes in the Human Resource Management of the Indian Army.
“It will enhance youthful profile of the Army by reducing the average age of a soldier from 32 to 26 years, there will be an increase in technical threshold of the Army by recruiting Agniveers through ITIs & other technical institutes and there will be an increased availability of medically and physically fit personnel at the cutting edge level of field units,” he said.
He said the scheme will result in an enhanced availability of soldiers to the field Army, ensure a wider recruitment base, which will, in turn, provide equal opportunities to youth from all parts of the country to join the Army.
— ADG PI – INDIAN ARMY (@adgpi) June 14, 2022
General Pande said the screening and selection, based on a sound, transparent, fair and robust assessment system will ensure that the Army retains the “best of the best” for a longer service duration.
“We will institute a fair, transparent and scientific method in screening the initial intake for four years and apply similar yardsticks to select those who will get re-enrolled,” adding that during the implementation of the scheme, Army’s operational capabilities and preparedness along the borders and the ability to deal with internal security challenges will be fully maintained.
Responding to a question, he said Agniveers will be recruited on an ‘All India All Class’ basis.
He said 75% of the Army units already have an ‘All India All Class’ composition. “Gradually, the class-based character of certain units and regiments, which have a fixed composition, is expected to evolve into an ‘All India All Class’ structure in the future,” he said.
Talking about the scheme, Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhari said the Agniveers who will form a part of the IAF will imbibe the core values of the service by virtue of the tailored training accorded to them, along with the “robust and resilient” unit ethos and work culture of the force.
“IAF is looking to tap into this source of dynamic young people, train and expose them to high technology environment of the IAF and hone their skills for future employment,” he said, adding that the new scheme gives the IAF an opportunity to draw from the vast pool of talent available in the country and prepares them for further specialised training in aviation and non-aviation skills if they join as regular air warriors.
Opportunity of a Lifetime!
— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) June 14, 2022
The Agniveers, he said, will be imparted a wide range of training and exposure to aviation, weapons and sophisticated ground systems. He said it will be a win-win situation for the IAF, with the Agniveers having several job options after the four-year tenure in the IAF and those joining as permanent service members.
Calling the step “transformational”, Indian Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar said the initiative has been extensively deliberated and examined threadbare by all stakeholders.
He said the Navy will ensure the Agniveers get the experience of working on its state-of-the-art warships, submarines, Aircraft carriers, military aircraft, latest weapons and sensors, IT systems and networked systems. “This experience will hold them in good stead for the rest of their lives, while also contributing to society and community development,” he said.