As per the new Agnipath scheme of the Government of India, the government will recruit about 45,000 to 50,000 soldiers annually. But most of these newly recruited soldiers will be decommissioned after four years. Out of the total annual recruitment, only 25% will be allowed to continue under permanent commission for the next 15 years.
The reforms relating to appointments in the Armed Forces were approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security, chaired by the Prime Minister, would come into effect immediately, and the soldiers recruited under the Agnipath scheme would be called Agniveers.
The move is being seen as an attempt by the Modi government to reduce government spending on pensions for the armed forces, which has been a major concern for the government while recruiting more personnel in the Indian Army.
The scheme is different from those joining the armed forces through examinations such as the National Defense Academy (NDA), where cadets are commissioned as officers in the armed forces. Those recruited under Agnipath scheme will be appointed below the officer ranks.
The eligibility criteria will be as follows. Candidates in the age group of 17.5 years to 21 years will be eligible to apply. It is roughly the middle age of a student who has just passed the class 12th examination or is pursuing his graduation.
The process of recruitment of agniveers will remain the same as for general recruitment below officer rank. Armed forces will conduct recruitment rally twice a year.
A major concern in this scheme may be how the people joining the armed forces under this scheme will continue their studies because in most cases the army (75%) is going to decommission them after 4 years anyway. Which means that they will be in urgent need of restarting their career after being decommissioned.
Another goal of the scheme would be to bring down the average age of recruits in the armed forces. Presently the average age of the jawans serving in the Indian Army is around 32 years, with this scheme the government is hoping to reduce it to around 26 years.
During the service of the recruit under this scheme, the government will make a provision of 30 per cent of the recruit’s salary under a service fund program, and the government will contribute an equal amount every month, plus interest. In this way, after four years of retirement, every soldier will get Rs 11.71 lakh from the government, on which the government will not charge any interest.
However, after the completion of the period of four years, only 25 per cent of the recruits under the scheme will be extended for a further period of 15 years to be admitted back to their respective services.