Agnipath Armed Forces Recruitment Scheme – Good Or Bad?

Indian government recently unveiled the Agnipath Armed Forces Recruitment Scheme, which seeks to introduce radical changes to the existing recruitment system followed by Indian Army, Navy and Air Force. Since the time it was announced, the scheme has received praise and criticism in equal amounts. A number of protests have taken place in several locations across the country. All these developments have resulted in a lot of confusion among candidates who are trying for a career with Indian Armed Forces.

As the recruitment rules have been completely changed, candidates are asking if the new Agnipath scheme is good or bad for them. Some defense experts are also asking if the Agnipath scheme will negatively impact the morale of armed forces. To get a fair view of central government’s new Agnipath scheme, let’s dig deeper and analyze each aspect in detail.

What is Agnipath scheme?

Agnipath is a new way of recruiting candidates for the armed forces. Unlike the earlier scheme where selected candidates got permanent jobs in armed forces, the Agnipath scheme will have a mix of temporary and permanent jobs. All candidates selected under Agnipath scheme will have to work for the armed forces for a period of 4 years. This includes the training period.

After four years, only one out of four candidates will be given permanent job in the armed forces. The remaining 75% will be relieved of their duties with adequate tax-free compensation, skill certificate and credits for higher education. They will also be eligible for bank loans for starting their own business or profession.

What is eligibility criteria for Agnipath scheme?

Any individual who is between 17.5 to 21 years is eligible to apply under Agnipath scheme. For 2022 only, the government has relaxed the age limit to 23 years. The various tests conducted for the recruitment will be the same as earlier. Recruitment will be done based on merit.

What is purpose of Agnipath scheme?

With the Agnipath scheme, the government is targeting multiple objectives. Some of these are described below.

  • Ballooning salary and pension – Due to manpower-intensive armed forces of India, the country has to bear massive expenditure on salary and pension. With the Agnipath scheme, armed forces manpower can be optimized. Shortage situation can also be avoided, as there will be a continuous flow of candidates every year via Agnipath scheme.
  • Military modernization – Due to heavy payroll expenditure, it has become difficult for the army to acquire new weapons and create other infrastructure. Only around 18% of India’s defense budget is available for military modernization, which is quite less. Lack of advanced weapon systems can create a risky situation with aggressive neighbors such as China and Pakistan.
  • Create more jobs – With Agnipath scheme, more jobs can be created for the country’s youth every year.
  • Nation building – Agnipath scheme opens the doors even for those candidates who may not be looking for a full-time career with the armed forces. They will get to serve the nation and better understand the ethos of the nation.
  • Reserve force – Agnipath scheme will help create a ready pool of trained combat professionals. The ones who are relieved of their duties after 4 years will work as backup force for the country. In case of a war, they can be called upon to voluntarily serve the nation.

How candidates will benefit from Agnipath scheme?

  • Attractive financial package – For all candidates selected through Agnipath scheme, first year package will start at around Rs 4.76 lakh. By the fourth year, this will increase to around Rs 6.92 lakh. The candidates will be eligible for risk and hardship and other allowances. At the end of fourth year, candidates will be getting around Rs 11.71 lakh as corpus fund. This is entirely tax free.
  • Full life insurance – All candidates selected through Agnipath scheme will have life insurance cover of Rs 48 lakh. This will be funded entirely by the government. Candidates don’t have to contribute any money for the life insurance cover.
  • Disability and death compensation – In case of disability, the individual will be eligible for compensation based on the level of disability. It is Rs 15 lakh / Rs 25 lakh / Rs 44 lakh for 50% / 75% / 100% disability, respectively. In case of death attributable to service, the compensation will be Rs 44 lakh.
  • Priority in CAPFs – Candidates who are relieved after four years of service will be given preference in recruitment to Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs). It includes organizations such as BSF, CRPF, CISF, SSB and ITBP. Several states have also announced plans to offer jobs in state police force.
  • Unique resume – With four years of service in the armed forces, the candidates can stand out among the crowd. It will give them the edge when looking for a job or starting a business.
  • Disciplined individual – With military training, all candidates will emerge as disciplined individuals. They will learn the importance of time and become adept at overcoming challenges. All these qualities will help them in their future job or profession.

What are disadvantages of Agnipath scheme?

Just like everything else, Agnipath scheme has also received fair amount of criticism. Some of these are described below.

  • Uncertain future – As only one out of four candidates will get permanent job with the armed forces, it puts a question mark on the career prospects of remaining 75% candidates that will be relieved after four years. While compensation package is attractive, changing careers and finding new jobs is not easy in the country.
  • Lack of motivation – As a part-time recruit, candidates may not have the morale to give it their 100% in the service of nation. They may be averse to taking risks, as they may not be sure about their future. All these factors might negatively impact overall capabilities of the armed forces.
  • Possibility of corruption – As only one out of four candidates will be absorbed in the armed forces, it may create chances of corruption. It is possible that decision to select a single candidate among four individuals can be biased.

While the big picture looks promising with Agnipath scheme, it is apparent that it has inherent flaws as well. We hope government will look into these and make the necessary changes. Achieving a balance between nation’s needs and career prospects of candidates can make Agnipath scheme a lot better.

Agnipath scheme Vs. military recruitment schemes of other countries

Earlier, there were talks about making military training compulsory for all youngsters in India. The practice is referred to as Conscription. It is an old practice that is still functional in some countries. Countries that have compulsory military training include Israel, North Korea, Mexico, Qatar, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey, Russia and Ukraine. European countries like Finland, Sweden and Switzerland also have conscription policy, but there are alternative options available to candidates.

India has chosen not to go for compulsory military training. Agnipath scheme is completely voluntary. Due to the massive population, it will be hugely challenging to introduce compulsory military training for all youngsters in India. Massive expenditure on military training is another factor why it cannot be made mandatory for every individual.

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