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What is Agnipath scheme and why people are protesting against it?

Agnipath Scheme Highlights

Agnipath is a merit-based recruiting process for soldiers, airmen, and sailors across India. The scheme was announced on June 14, 2022. The programme ‘initially’ allowed 45000 youngsters of age 17.5-21 to join the military forces’ for a period of four years which will include 26 weeks (6 months) of training Those who are hired under the ‘Agnipath’ programme will be referred to as ‘Agniveers.’  Later an amendment in age limit was made on June 17, 2022.

Cabinet Minister shared on his twitter handle, “The ‘Agnipath’ scheme approved by the CCS chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi is a truly transformative reform which will enhance the combat potential of the Armed Forces, with younger profile and technologically adept soldiers”

He further shared the key points of the scheme

  • Agniveers will be given a salary of Rs. 30000-40000 monthly plus allowances. They will also be eligible to receive awards, medals and insurance coverage.
  • Only 25% of the “Agniveers” will be re-enlisted in the regular cadre after four years based on merit, willingness and medical fitness.
  • They will then be re-elected for a 15-year term. The first four years of service under a contract are unlikely to be taken into account for calculating eventual pension benefits.
  • A permanent “Agniveer Corpus Fund” will be established. It will be made up of the individual’s 30 percent monthly salary contribution. It will earn interest at the same rate as the Public Provident Fund, and when the individual leaves the military, this tax-free “Seva Nidhi” bundle will be worth approximately ten lakh rupees.
  •  Agniveers will receive a thorough skill-set certificate at the conclusion of the engagement time, which will assist  them in their second profession.

Advantages of the scheme:

  • The substantially reduced age profile of the service would be a big benefit of this plan. It will expand the permanent cadre’s opportunities for advancement.
  • Early employment with much higher pay and a 25% possibility of entering the permanent cadre will be a considerable benefit for the young entrant.
  • Candidates will  also be groomed in a more disciplined atmosphere and will be capable of operating current equipment, as well as acquiring new skill sets without having to pay for them.
  • They will also develop his leadership and team-building skills.They will be employed for a variety of lower-tech professions, like working on planes and ships. Those who are hired on a long-term basis will go through a more rigorous technical training programme.
  • Agnipath will provide an excellent chance for India’s youth to gain military experience without a long-term commitment to the armed services. Besides skill training, the recruits will receive a diploma and a degree. Those who leave after four years will have a multitude of career alternatives.

Is Agnipath scheme for girls also?

Yes girls falling in the age group of 17.5-23 years of age are eligible to avail the benefits of new recruitment scheme.

Why are people  protesting against the scheme?

The protest started when opposition parties started debating against the scheme. People of Bihar came out of home to protest as they realised that the scheme will not provide any pension and job security. Many have spent years preparing for defence recruitment but do not support short term recruitment.

Protest turned violent:

Later the protest was nationwide when the protest in Bihar got violent after burning tyres and setting public transports including trains on fire. Anti Prime Minister and anti scheme slogans were also raised during the protest.

MLA’s home attacked:

Bihar deputy chief minister Renu Devi’s house in Bettiah district was attacked on Friday as protests against the new defence recruitment scheme continued, across the country. “Our residence in Bettiah was attacked. We suffered damage due to the protest,” said Renu Devi.

In the midst of demonstrations over the new recruiting programme that has sparked a firestorm, the residence of Deputy Chief Minister Renu Devi was attacked in Bettiah, Bihar’s West Champaran district. “Such violence poses a serious threat to society. The demonstrators had to keep in mind that this is a loss for society, “Ms. Devi said in an interview.

Opposition questions the scheme:

Rahul Gandhi, the head of the Congress, criticised the government over the “Agnipath” programme, stating that it will impair the operational efficacy of the armed services, whose honour and valour must not be infringed. Congress national secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also blasted the government and wondered why it was making recruiting in the army their “experiment”.

What was before Agneepath?

For a minimum of 15 years, young males between the ages of 16.5 and 21 were previously selected. Upon retirement, they would get a pension. The new system has taken over the old one.  Now, between the ages of 17 and 21, they are open to recruitment. Most recruits will only be able to serve for four years.

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