In a move that will radically transform young India’s future, the Narendra Modi Government has come up with a new recruitment scheme for the country’s armed forces.
Cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), recruitments under the scheme will commence in 90 days and about 46,000 soldiers will be recruited under the scheme this year, Union Defence Minister announced at a briefing which was also attended by the chiefs of the three armed forces.
Appropriately named Agnipath (which means the path through fire), the scheme is a life-changing gift to the youth of India. It allows every youngman or woman between the ages of 17 and 21 years to fight for the country for four years, and work for the nation building thereafter.
Every year around one lakh youngsters would be recruited into the armed forces through two nationwide campaigns, trained to serve for the defence of the nation, and be part of the country’s revered military establishment for four years.
One out of every four of them would be retained and the rest would be allowed to use the unmatched skills acquired by them elsewhere in police forces, private security services or elsewhere in India’s growing market place.
The recruits will be called Agniveers and paid a salary of Rs 30,000 – Rs 40,000 per month, and allowances as applicable. They will also get a postrelease ‘Seva Nidhi’ package of Rs 11.71 lakh including interest (tax-free), besides a non-contributory insurance cover of Rs 48 lakh.
An additional ex-gratia of Rs 44 lakh will be given in case of death attributable to service, and compensation under existing rules will be given in case of disability. Aginveers will also get a skill certificate, which will aim to assist them in finding post-release job opportunities. They will also have an option of accessing a bank loan of Rs 18.2 lakh over three years or more, against the Seva Nidhi package.
It’s a win-win situation for a country like India, which is blessed with demographic dividend. It allows the nation to address the growing unemployment problem, besides harnessing the energy of the youth to productive proposes.
The scheme also allows the Government to curb the ballooning salaries and pensions bill in the Defence Budget, and divert the huge amounts saved to upgradation of arms and equipment and modernisation of forces.
The practice of short-term ‘tours of duty’ for recruitment to armed forces is common in other countries, including the USA, Russia, Israel, South Korea and China. Some do it through conscription, others on voluntary basis. The Agnipath scheme brings in the best of both the models. According to Major General (retired) Ashok Kumar, the Agnipath scheme would help the forces to have younger, fitter, diverse, more trainable individuals, adaptable to changing dynamics and technology, which would enhance operational effectiveness.
“This scheme is transformational and will benefit both the armed forces and the country in an asymmetrical manner. It will bring down the current age profile of the frontline units which stands at 32 years at present to 26 years in four to six years’ time frame,” Gen Kumar asserts..
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Despite naysayers, a large body of experts thinks that the move was overdue. Armed forces across the world have been adapting to their futuristic requirements, by bringing in fresh ideas and schemes to meet the overall national ambitions and dreams in the long run.
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