The union cabinet on Tuesday approved an attractive recruitment scheme for motivated Indian youth to serve in the armed forces for a period of four years. The scheme is called Agnipath and the youth selected under this scheme will be known as Agniveers.
Recruitment rallies will commence within 90 days, according to a defence ministry release.
The Agnipath scheme has been designed to enable a youthful profile of the armed forces. It will provide an opportunity to the youth who may be keen to don the uniform by attracting young talent from the society who are more in tune with contemporary technological trends while helping to plough back skilled, disciplined and motivated manpower into the society.
As for the armed forces, it will enhance its youthful profile and provide a fresh lease of ‘Josh’ and ‘Jazba’ while bringing about a transformational shift towards a more tech savvy military. It is envisaged that the average age profile of Indian armed forces would come down by about 4-5 years by implementation of this scheme. The nation stands to immensely benefit by infusion of highly inspired youth with deeper understanding of self-discipline, diligence and focus who would be adequately skilled who will be able to contribute in other sectors as well, says the defence ministry release.
The dividends of a short military service to the nation, society and the youth of the nation are immense. This includes inculcation of patriotism, team work, enhancement of physical fitness, ingrained loyalty for the country and availability of trained personnel to boost national security in times of external threats, internal threats and natural disasters.
This is a major defence policy reform introduced by the government to usher in a new era in the human resource policy of the three Services. The policy, which comes into immediate effect, will hereafter govern the enrolment for the three services, the release stated.
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 one time ‘Seva Nidhi’ package, which shall comprise their contribution, including accrued interest thereon and matching contribution from the government.
The ‘Seva Nidhi’ will be exempt from income tax. There will, however, be no entitlement to gratuity and pensionary benefits. Agniveers will be provided non-contributory life insurance cover of Rs48 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 various military skills and experience, discipline, physical fitness, leadership qualities, courage and patriotism. After completion of the four-year stint, each Agniveer will be awarded a certificate to acknowledge the skills gained by him/her. Agniveers, completing the four-year tenure in the prime of their youth, will be mature and self-disciplined to become better version of himself/herself both professionally as also personally. The avenues and opportunities that will open up for their progress in the civil world after Agniveer tenure would certainly be a big plus towards nation building. Moreover, the Seva Nidhi of approximately Rs11.71 lakh would help the Agniveer pursue his/her future dreams without the financial pressure, which is normally the case for young people from the financially deprived strata of society.
Those selected for enrolment in the armed forces as regular cadre would be required to serve for a further engagement period of a 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 the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force and that of Non-Combatant enrolled in the Indian Air Force, as amended from time to time.
The scheme will lead to a more youthful and technically adept war fighting force by ensuring a fine balance between youthful and experienced personnel in the armed forces, the release stated.
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. Up to 25 per cent of each specific batch of Agniveers will be enrolled in regular cadre of the armed forces.
Enrolment of Agniveers will be 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. Enrolment will be based on ‘All India All Class’ basis and the eligible age will be in the range of 17-1/2 to 21 years (The upper age limit has since been extended by 2 years to 23). 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).