Agnipath scheme: What Agniveers can expect after four years
A good financial package, a bank loan scheme and priority during hiring in state police and other sectors are some incentives the Agniveers will get, according to the Centre
Amid violent protests in several states and criticism from many Army veterans about the recently announced Agnipath scheme, a question remains. What happens to the Agniveers, as the recruits of the controversial scheme are called, after the four-year tenure?
The Centre ‘unofficially’ floated a ‘Myths vs Facts’ document in a bid to address the concerns. It mostly sought to allay fears that the Agniveers will be left unemployed at the end of their tenure. The most common issue raised by protesters, it may be noted, is that the four-year duration is very short and their future would look insecure, especially since there is no pension involved.
What the ‘retired’ Agniveers can do
According to the existing plan, the Agniveers who will be demobilised after four years, the 75 per cent of the total, will get a financial package of about Rs 12 lakh each. They can use this as a corpus to start something fresh. Those wishing to turn entrepreneurs are eligible for a bank loan.
Agniveers who wish to pursue higher studies will be given a 12th class equivalent certificate and a bridging course for further studies. In association with IGNOU, the Army will enable degree courses for the recruits.
Those who want salaried jobs will be given priority in Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) and state police. BJP-ruled states like Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have said that Agniveers will be given priority in police recruitment.
“Several avenues are also being opened up for them in other sectors,” the government document added. Many companies in IT and other sectors have announced that they would prefer to hire skilled and disciplined Agniveers, the government said.
Opportunities for youth
On the concern that opportunities for youth to serve in the armed forces will decrease, the government document said it would, in fact, increase. “In the coming years, recruitment of Agniveers will be around triple of the current recruitment in the armed forces,” it said.
Will the scheme harm the effectiveness of the armed forces? The government clarified that the number of Agniveers to be recruited in the first year would only make up 3 per cent of the armed forces. “Additionally, the performance of the Agniveers will be tested before re-induction in the army after four years. Hence, the Army will get tested and tried personnel for supervisory ranks,” it said.
A ‘right youth-experience mix’
Responding to criticism that 21-year-olds are immature and unreliable for the Army, the document said that most armies across the world depend upon their youth. It also clarified that at no point in time will there be more youngsters than experienced people. “The present scheme will only bring about a right mix of 50-50, slowly in a very long run, of youngsters and experienced supervisory ranks,” it said.
Many have raised the issue that 21-year-old youth with professional arms training, who might not have a job, could be vulnerable to joining terrorist groups or “anti-national” forces, the government termed it “an insult to the ethos and values of the Indian armed forces”.