Opinion Based Blog

Agnipath Scheme, a mission of dissatisfied youth: Analyzing ministerial objectives and critics


Author(s): Avinash Pandey, 2nd year Student at NMIMS Kirit P. Mehta School of Law, Mumbai and Sthitaprangya Pattnaik, 1st year Student at University of Petroleum and Energy Studies.

Introduction

India is one of the youngest countries in the world. India’s demography is young. It means that in the country, the population of young people is more than the population of older people.

This should be reflected in the defense sector. In order to do that, the administrators need young people in the defense forces: Army, Air Force and Navy. This is exactly where the Agnipath Scheme comes to play.

The army and navy are prepared to begin recruiting candidates on July 1, 2022, following the news that the Agnipath system would be implemented in the armed forces and the widespread reactions it received across the nation.[1]

The Indian government claims that India’s youth will be instrumental in making the Atma Nirbhar, Sashakt Bharat a reality. A step closer will be made through the Agnipath scheme. It is a rare chance for them to realise their aspiration of enlisting in the military and defending the country.[2]

It permits young people to enlist as soldiers for three years. The programme is a component of PM Narendra Modi’s reform efforts to lower the cost of military retiree pensions and the age composition of the armed services.[3]

What is Agnipath Scheme?

The central government has proposed the Agnipath admission system, also known as the Tour of Duty entry scheme, which would let young people enlist as soldiers for four years. During their four-year assignment, the soldiers who joined the military through the Tour of Duty entrance scheme will be referred to as “Agniveers” (fire fighters). Nearly two years ago, discussions for the Agnipath entry scheme to induct young people as soldiers on a temporary contract began. They would receive training before being placed in various fields. According to the official records, there are currently 1.25 lakh openings in the defense forces, hence the short-term recruitment plan will be implemented at this moment.[4] It involves a recruitment procedure for those who are not officers.[5]

The majority of the 45,000 to 50,000 troops who are recruited each year under the new Agnipath scheme will exit the military in just four years. Only 25% of the total annual recruits will be permitted to continue for an additional 15 years under a permanent commission.[6] Between the ages of 17.5 and 21 soldiers, sailors, and airmen are recruited to service for four years.[7]

In an interview, the NSA head Mr. Ajit Doval said, “All three previous heads of Defence forces along with the former Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) worked for two years on the scheme. The regimental system has not ended. Reforms are needed for a better future. We are a young nation with the oldest army.

Merits of Agneepath Scheme[8]

  • Candidates between the ages of 17 years to 23 years will have increased opportunities.
  • The scheme introduced by the Government of India had opened up slots of at least 46,000 in the army and forces.
  • This scheme also provided all the people that were taking advantage of the scheme to get an opportunity to train at the best institute so that they could enhance their skills and qualifications.
  • The scheme states that 1/4 of the candidates will be retained after every 4 years meaning that permanent jobs will be allotted to several people.
  • The people that are not selected after the 4 years for father employment will get a cash benefit of ₹12,00,000 out of which they can either improve their education All start their own business as these people will have the discipline and the knowledge about how the institutions work.

Demerits of Agneepath Scheme[9]

  • The recruitment process has a very shallow age group that is only between 17 to 23 years.
  • The people that are selected are also not selected for any special rank; they will be employed for non commissioned lower ranks.
  • The scheme provides employment for only 4 years for all the candidates which basically means that there is a high possibility that the person who has committed for the 4 years might be unemployed once the 4 years are done and his service is not accepted
  • Government jobs provide special benefits to people that are Committed for the same but when it comes to the employment under this scheme there will be no special or additional benefits provided to the people that are accepted and neither will there be any sort of pension being provided to these candidates.

Dissatisfied Youths: Public Reaction and Current Status

On June 14, 2022, the Indian government announced its introduction. The protest was initially reported on June 15, 2022, from the state of Bihar, when protesters had blocked railroad tracks and national highways. The main issues were the short term of service, the lack of early release pension arrangements, and the 17.5 to 21-year age restriction, which made many of the current aspirants ineligible to join the Indian armed services.[10]

Young people are launching large-scale protests in portions of Bihar, UP, Uttarakhand, and Haryana and demanding an immediate cancellation of the programme. Roadblocks, car exhaust, burning trains, and other visual indicators of chaos and unrest could be seen all over the nation.[11]

Need for the Scheme[12]

The basic motive behind the agnipath scheme was to provide employment to the youth For a time period of 4 years so that they can serve their country. Under the scheme every 4 years there will be 46,000 young People selected to serve the Indian army, the Indian Navy or the Indian Air Force. During the 4 years these youth will establish all the required skills and discipline that a person working under the armed forces should have and once this 4 year is completed out of the 46,000 that will be the first batch for the current year 25% of the youth will be selected for further services and the remaining 75%will be let out with a package of approximately 12,00,000 so that these people who were not selected could start their own institution or their business as they will have the right discipline and the required skills and knowledge to do the same.

India has been seen to spend a major chunk of its budget on the pensions provided to the armed forces while the budget of fiscal year 22 had the allotment of 54% to the salaries and pensions for the people that are retired under the armed forces. India allotted the highest chunk to pension and salaries as compared to any country out of their budget. In the past decade we have seen that the pension for the salaries provided to the retired armed forces people has increased at an average of 12% while the budget allotment for the improvement of armed forces or naval services have been a very topsy turvy one because in the year 2011 to 12 it was 30% which fell down to 22% in the year 2018 which was also recorded as the lowest it has ever been but it gradually increased to 27% during the year 2020, 20,000 crores were spent on Aircraft for the armed forces and other equipment for Navy forces.

The agneepath scheme introduced by the central government is the best possible scheme that the Indian citizens can ask for in the current possible times because it will cut the average age of armed force from age of 32 to age of 26 but not only this it will also reduce the burden on the government of giving out pension and cash as 75% of the people that were taken under the scheme will be released after 4 years with Amir charge of ₹12,00,000 each. It might seem that 12,00,000 will be a big number when it comes to giving it to 75% of 46,000 candidates which roughly makes up to around 30,000 people but according to stats that were published and quoted by the economist it will Provide a monetary gain of at least 11,000 crores to the India Budget, Which could be then further utilized for the betterment of the armed forces by giving them upgraded weapons devices and trackers.

India and Abroad: A growing trend of recruitment[13]

Study was recently conducted where the economies and the allotment of budget and Other monetary effects such as pensions and salaries to the retired personnel from army and other national duty agents were compared, Between the countries of India, United Kingdom and the United States of America.

The study revealed that India is the only country where almost every person that has represented or has conducted any national duties retires with a certain amount of pension or salary. As majority personnel in the United Kingdom and in the United States of America have no significant proportion of salary or pension after they retire. Talking about some specific numbers 82% of the personnel From the United States of America that have conducted national service do not get any pension or salary after their retirement. The payment to the retired personnel in the United Kingdom and in the United States of America is done in a lump sum payment so that they do not have to get around a huge sum of money that India has to do. The purpose of agneepath scheme is similar to what the allotment to personal has been in the United Kingdom and the United States of America, but when we compare the defense manpower cost of India and the United States of America India space and allowances to personal and military civilians is about 32% compared to the pay benefits in lump sum amount by the USA is just 26%.

The study further revealed that the cost of India and United States when compared reveals the fact that India nearly has allotted 26% of its budget in the year 2022 in pensions as compared to United States of America’s 8% whereas United Kingdom had just spent 14% and meanwhile Russia hates friend just 8.7% of its budget on pensions.

Some shocking facts revealed that even though India has had the second largest value tree around the globe it has Extremely less naval vessels or aircraft compared to countries which are spending, allocating more budget towards the betterment of their military. The country here we talking about is India compared to United States wherein India only has 150 naval vessels to the 480 of the United States of America and when it comes to the aircraft Comparison between the top 3 powerhouses of military China has 3200 compared to India’s 2180 whereas the United states have a whooping 13,200 aircraft power in the military. With the introduction of the agnipath scheme by the Indian government they are having a similar objective to achieve and increase their armed forces and making aware of the youth about the challenges and technological powers.

Conclusion: A way forward

The intention of the government for this scheme is to cut-off the pension of retired military personnel. So, that a large amount of money can be saved and can be used for other purposes like military advancement, healthcare and agriculture system upgradation and for the modernization of our old Education system. Many experts suggested that the same thing can be done in case of politicians- MLAs and MPs. Their pension can be cut-off.

In this case, our opinion is that the government should give them a retirement package. And if those people want or if they are willing to do some other jobs then, the government can provide them part time jobs as per their interest and of course physical and mental capabilities.

We are against the idea of giving pensions, to people of any profession, till death after retirement.

The term of 4-years can be increased. Also, those who are in the military, there may be some people who may like to leave their job. They can be removed easily but not forcefully or sarcastically. I mean, there may be some people in the military who would like to follow their passion. Maybe their passion or dream is something else, not military. Their interests should also be taken care of.


References

[1] Agnipath Scheme 2022: Army, Navy to begin recruitment today, Mint, https://www.livemint.com/news/india/agnipath-scheme-2022-army-navy-to-begin-recruitment-today-see-details-11656634174221.html.

[2] My Gov, https://www.mygov.in/campaigns/agniveer/.

[3] WHAT IS AGNIPATH ENTRY SCHEME?, Business Standard, https://wap.business-standard.com/about/what-is-agnipath-entry-scheme.

[4] Ibid.

[5] What is the Agnipath Scheme who all can apply, all you need to know, The Economic Times, https://m.economictimes.com/news/defence/what-is-the-agnipath-scheme-who-all-can-apply-all-you-need-to-know/articleshow/92225306.cms.

[6] Krishna Kaushik, Explained: The Agnipath scheme for recruiting soldiers — what is it, how will it work?,

The Indian Express (Jun. 16, 2022, 7:48 p.m) https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/agnipath-scheme-for-recruiting-soldiers-7969432/lite/.

[7] Laxman Kumar Behera, AGNIPATH: A BOLD, NEW DEFENCE RECRUITMENT SCHEME, ORF (Jun. 22, 2022),  https://www.orfonline.org/expert-speak/a-bold-new-defence-recruitment-scheme/?amp.

[8] https://www.mygov.in/campaigns/agniveer/

[9] Ibid.

[10] Agnipath Scheme, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnipath_Scheme.

[11] Anshul Sharma, AGNEEPATH SCHEME 2022, LATEST UPDATED DETAILS AND BENEFITS, SSC Adda (Jul. 7, 2022), https://www.sscadda.com/agneepath-scheme-details/.

[12] Agneepath Scheme, Career Power, https://www.careerpower.in/agneepath-scheme.html.

[13] Bertrand Russell, GLOBAL FIREPOWER 2022, Global Fire Power (Jul. 7, 2022, 3:00 a.m.), https://www.globalfirepower.com/

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