The recently announced plan for the recruitment of youth through the Agnipath-Agniveer route is both a novel and noble initiative taken by the government of India.
It is for the first time that any government in India has started thinking on the lines of some important and bold steps on the pattern of US, Russian and Israel defence instances to evolve its defence and security plans keeping in view the new strategic methodology in tune with its national priorities.
It opens new vistas for multipurpose opportunities for the youth at their very young age.
It is very unfortunate that some disgruntled and selfish politicians along with their cohorts have unleashed a campaign against the announcement made by the government in this regard.
They instead of asking questions in respect of the scheme to get issues clarified are hoodwinking the opinion of the youth and thus exploiting them to the hilt. Any sort of violence, damage of national assets or creating mass hysteria leading towards riots is absolutely unacceptable.
This simultaneously exposes their intent to oppose the government and the parties in the government for reasons quite unconvincing. It is sure that those opposing the scheme haven’t gone through its content, purpose and opportunities at all. They are bereft of any sincerity of purpose in this context.
Moreover, the current minds have to get rid of the mind-set of 1960s-70s-80s when the main focus was on the government jobs. Things have changed for good, youth are being offered opportunities to think beyond.
The Agnipath-Agniveer is a very smart and outstanding option to create bags of money out of nothing and that too at a very young age. Let us go through the main features of the scheme for the benefit of the youth and public at large to understand things in a more positive way than causing apprehensions and doubts.
Agnipath scheme allows youth to serve in the Armed forces for a period of four years. Soldiers who are recruited under this scheme will be known as Agniveers. The scheme has been designed to enable a youthful profile of the Armed forces.
It also provides a transformational shift towards a more tech-savvy Armed forces that is the need of the hour. It is envisaged that the average age profile of the Indian Armed forces would come down by about 4-5 years with the implementation of this scheme.
The selection will be the exclusive jurisdiction of the Armed Forces. A total of 46,000 Agniveers will be recruited this year. It will be an open opportunity to serve the nation as Agniveers through enrolment in Armed forces on a pan India merit based recruitment.
It will have four years fixed tenure and will attract monthly emoluments and handsome “Seva-Nidhi” package. Based on merit and organisation requirement, 25 per cent of Agniveers will be enrolled in regular cadre of the Armed forces on a perpetual basis.
Agniveers will be given an attractive customised monthly package along with ‘Risk and Hardship allowances’ as applicable in the three services. On completion of the engagement period of four years, Agniveers will be paid a one-time ‘Seva-Nidhi’ package which shall comprise their contribution including accrued interest thereon and matching contribution from the Government equal to the accumulated amount of their contribution including interest.
In the first year, Agniveers will get Rs 30,000 per month but they will receive only Rs 21,000 as 30 per cent of their remuneration or Rs 9,000 will be their contribution to Agniveer Corpus Fund and the government will contribute the same amount to the corpus fund. Agniveers will receive Rs 33,000 in the second year, Rs 36,500 in the third year and Rs 40,000 in the fourth year.
They will get Rs 11.71 lakh as Seva-Nidhi Package after four years. The ‘Seva-Nidhi’ will be exempt from Income Tax. There shall be no entitlement to gratuity and pensionary benefits. Agniveers will be provided non-contributory Life Insurance Cover of Rs 48 lakh for the duration of their engagement period in the Indian Armed Forces.
During this period of service to the nation, the Agniveers will be imparted with various military skills and experience, discipline, physical fitness, leadership qualities, courage and patriotism. The skills gained by each Agniveer will be recognised in a certificate to form part of one’s unique resume.
The individuals, selected for enrolment in the Armed Forces as regular cadre, would be required to serve for a further engagement period of minimum 15 years and would be governed by the existing terms and conditions of service of Junior Commissioned Officers/other Ranks in Indian Army and their equivalent in Indian Navy and Indian Air Force and that of Non Combatant enrolled in the Indian Air Force, as amended from time to time.
It is undoubtedly a transformative reform of recruitment policy of the Armed Forces and a unique opportunity to the youth to serve the country and contribute to nation building.
While it is an opportunity for Agniveers to get trained in the best institutions and enhance their skills & qualifications, it also provides re-employment opportunities for those returning to society and who could emerge as role models for the youth.
Enrolment will be based on ‘All India All Class’ basis and the eligible age will be in the range from 17.5 to 23 years. Agniveers will meet the medical eligibility conditions laid down for enrolment in the armed forces as applicable to respective categories/trades.
The educational qualification for Agniveers will remain as in vogue for enrolment in various categories. For example: For entry into General Duty (GD) soldier, the educational qualification is Class 10. Under the AGNIPATH scheme, the Agniveers will be enrolled in the Forces under respective Service Acts for a period of four years.
Upon the completion of four years of service, based on organisational requirement and policies promulgated by the Armed Forces from time-to-time, Agniveers will be offered an opportunity to apply for permanent enrolment in the Armed Forces.
These applications will be considered in a centralised manner based on objective criteria including performance during their four-year engagement period and up to 25 per cent of each specific batch of Agniveers will be enrolled in regular cadre of the Armed Forces.
Enrolment will be undertaken through an online centralised system for all three services with specialised rallies and campus interviews from recognised technical institutes such as Industrial Training Institutes and National Skills Qualifications Framework, among others.
According to Ministry of Education (MoE), the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) is instituting a special programme in consultation with the defence authorities to enable Agniveers who have passed class 10 to further their education and obtain a class 12 pass certificate by developing customised courses that are relevant to their area of service.
The customised programme by @niostwit will be relevant to the spirit of the Agnipath scheme. This certificate will equip Agniveers with relevant knowledge & skills and enable them to pursue jobs and higher education across India. The certificate will be recognised for both employment and higher education purposes in the whole country.
This will benefit the Agniveers to gain adequate educational qualification and skills to take up productive role in society later in life. The special programme of NIOS will facilitate enrolment, development of courses, student support, provision of self-learning material, accreditation of study centres, personal contact programme, evaluation and certification.
Big announcement for Agniveers by MHA consists of 3 year age relaxation plus 10 % reservation for recruitment in CAPFs. For the current year Agniveers, the age relaxation will be 5 years.
Another good news for Agniveers is that there will be 10% reservation in MOD, Coastguard and 16 Ordnance Factories as well. Agniveers after 4 yrs will have multiple options to include CAPFs, MOD jobs, pursue higher education and above all become rural entrepreneurs with a handsome kitty of about 15 lakh to 20 lakh.
Since their liabilities will be minimum at the domestic level due to their young age, they can even save a major portion of their four years salary as well. Consequently, every Agniveer after putting in four years of service, will have a kitty of around Rs. 20 lakh plus, a 12th standard certificate, and an opportunity of re-employment between the age group of 22 years and 27 years, which is indeed great and remarkable.
In addition, they will also be having opportunity to approach banks and the concerned government departments to start their own enterprises and make efforts to provide jobs to others as entrepreneurs.
The availability of a cushion of Rs. 15-20 lakhs at an age group of 22-27 years is beyond any imagination. It would be prudent for everyone to understand the full impact of the Agnipath-Agniveer recruitment scheme and not allow the vested interests to damage the cause of the nation, society and the youth in particular.
Let us shun the negative attitude towards everything that is new and fresh. There is a need to relook and review and Agnipath is one of the best opportunities to do it.
The author is a senior BJP and KP leader, author & columnist.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.