Revolutionizing Military Recruitment: Defending the Agnipath Scheme

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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh strongly defended the new military recruitment model on Saturday, stating that it was implemented after extensive consultations, including with ex-servicemen. He suggested that there is a “misunderstanding” being spread for political reasons.

He emphasized that the scheme will bring revolutionary changes to the soldier enrollment process, with no compromise on the quality of training. Speaking at a conclave organized by the TV9 media group, Singh addressed the confusion surrounding the new scheme, noting that it is a new initiative.

The defence minister explained that the scheme was rolled out after around two years of deliberations, including discussions with the ex-servicemen community, and was based on a consensus. He expressed the desire for a sense of discipline and pride for the country among the people.

Singh hinted that some of the protests against the scheme could be politically motivated, without directly naming any political party. He stressed that whatever politics is pursued, whether in opposition or in government, it should be for the benefit of the country.

Furthermore, he questioned the morality of lowering the morale of the country’s soldiers, in response to violent protests against the scheme. He also highlighted that personnel recruited under the “Agnipath scheme” will be given priority in various job selections by state governments, private industries, public sector undertakings, and paramilitary forces.

The defence minister emphasized that the new recruits will receive the same quality training as regular military soldiers, despite the shorter training time. He also mentioned the financial package of Rs 11.71 lakh to be given to each “Agniveer” after completing the four-year tenure, as well as the government’s facilitation of low-interest loans for those needing additional resources.

The government unveiled the scheme with the intention of recruiting youths between the ages of 17 and-a-half and 21 for a four-year tenure, with 25% of them subsequently inducted for regular service. The recruits will be referred to as “Agniveer” and the scheme aims to reduce the average age of military personnel and decrease salary and pension expenses.

In response to protests, the government increased the upper age limit for recruitment under the “Agnipath” scheme to 23 years for the year 2022. The monthly salary for an “Agniveer” in the first year of employment will be Rs 30,000, with Rs 21,000 in-hand, and subsequent salary increases in the second, third, and fourth years. Each “Agniveer” will receive an amount of Rs 11.71 lakh as “Seva Nidhi Package,” exempted from income tax, after completing the four-year tenure, which includes training periods.

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