The government has announced a new process for recruitment to the Indian Armed Forces – Tour of Duty — Agnipath. The process of recruitment of these youth will start in the next ninety days and more than 46,000 youth – boys and girls are expected to be recruited for four years.
The decision to implement such a scheme was taken by the Cabinet Committee on Security headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It was announced by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in the presence of the three service chiefs — Chiefs of the three Services – Gen Manoj Pande, Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari and Admiral R Hari Kumar. It will open for all over India and all-class. These new recruits will be forming a distinct rank and have a different insignia.
Once their duty is over they will not get ex-servicemen status.
This step has been taken to keep the armed forces young and to also reduce the burden of pension. These young boys and girls between the ages of 17 and a half to those of 21 years of age are eligible to be recruited for four years as soldiers in the Indian Army and equivalent ranks in Navy and Indian Air Force (IAF).
What is the Tour of Duty package?
India is following a concept which was followed during World War II. Now the youth will be recruited for a fixed period of four years under the scheme called “Agnipath’’ and they will be “Agniveers’’. These “Agniveers’’, according to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) are going to get a customized package which has been made attractive to attract the youth. This package will include Risk and Hardship allowances as applicable in the three services.
Also, at the end of the four years they will receive one time ‘SevaNidhi’ package and this package is going to contain the contribution made by them while on TOD and will include the accrued interest thereon. This will also match the contribution from the government which will be equal to the accumulated amount of their contribution including interest.
Besides the non-contributory Life Insurance Cover of Rs 48 Lakh while they are on TOD, their package according to the MoD statement will be exempted from Income Tax and also there will be no entitlement to gratuity and pensions.
What will be the benefit to the youth?
They will receive discipline, physical fitness, military skills and experience, discipline, leadership qualities, patriotism and courage. At the end of the duty they will receive a Agniveer Skill Certificate which will be part of his resume and once back in the civil world they can play an important role in nation building.
There will be no financial pressure on the Agniveers to pursue their dreams with the ‘SevaNidhi’ of around Rs 11.71 lakh they will get on completion of their tenure. These youth will have an option to access bank loans for a period of three years or more of Rs 18.2 lakhs against their Seva Nidhi package.
And those individuals who will enroll in the Armed Forces as regular cadres will as per the government required to serve for a period of 15 years. They will be governed as per the existing terms and conditions of service of Junior Commissioned Officers/Other Ranks in the three services and that of non-combatant in the IAF as amended from time to time.
All the recruits will have to meet the medical eligibility as required in respective categories and trades of the armed forces.
The qualification for Agniveers, according to the MoD statement will remain as invogue for enrollment in various categories. This means in case someone is going for General Duty (Soldier) the qualification is Class 10.
Recruitment of soldiers across the world is under two different categories: conscription and voluntary.
The biggest example of conscription is Russia, which has a system of 12 months conscription-based service.
In Israel too there is a system of conscription and different tenures for men (30 months) and for women the period is for 22 months.
Brazil too has the concept of conscription for tenure of 12 months.
In South Korea Army, Navy and Air Force take in conscripts for 21, 24 and 25 months respectively. And all young men and women have to do this duty before attaining a certain age.
In the US and in China – termed as voluntary service, the tenure is anything between two to eight years. And there are options for getting into active or reservist services and also specific to certain ranks and specializations.
Since the government envisages reduction in pensions bills, lessening stress on the revenue budget of the armed forces, it will all help in using funds saved for various modernization programmes.
For operational effectiveness to meet the emerging global challenges, this scheme will help in keeping the forces fitter, young and diverse.
With the current average age profile in the Indian Army at 32 years, the aim of this scheme is to achieve youth vs experience ratios, and a ratio of 1:1.
To have a tech-savvy armed forces. And to plug the problem of unemployment in the country and to help in stabilizing economic growth.