The Agneepath scheme, announced on 14th june, is aiming to induct young soldiers in the Army, Navy and the Air Force on a short-term period of four years. The central government says the scheme seeks to bring down the average age of personnel and reduce the burden of pension.
There are aspirants who want to become the part of armed forces, are not in the favor of this scheme and they have been protesting in different parts of the country. Young men and women who aspired to join the armed forces demonstrated their agitation against the Agneepath scheme. They demand Tour of Duty that is the ‘temporary service of four years’ to be rolled back and exams be held on the similar pattern as earlier.
Railway and road traffic in Jehanabad, Buxar and Nawada districts of Bihar was disrupted and trains were set on fire and due to this more than 20 trains were cancelled. In Rajasthan, aspirants led by the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) staged protests. Haryana and Uttar Pradesh have also reported violent protests. Even in telangana, secunderabad railway station vandalised and a train set ablaze by Agneepath protestors. Many slogans were raised to support the protest, like “Indian Army lovers,” and ‘Bharti do, ya arthi do’ in order to show their resentment against this idea of the government.
Agnipath scheme proposed the recruitment of jawans on a contractual basis for a four-year period followed by compulsory retirement for most without gratuity and pension benefits. The new recruitment plan aims to cut down the government’s massive salary and pension bills and to use that amount for arms’ procurement. Also they are looking for more young boys to become the part of armed forces.
Why are the aspirants protesting?
- they are asking for Job security as the length of service is just on a temporary basis that is for four years.
- They are protesting against the idea of abolishing the system of pension in it.
- they are against the less age limit, that is of just 17.5-21 years.
- They wants exams to be conducted, same as before.
Steps taken by government after protests –
Considering the nationwide protest government has amended the scheme by increasing the upper age limit to 23 from 21. It is a one-time waiver in 2022 recruitment cycle. Also they have released a factsheet to provide more clarity about it and addressing all the major questions of the protestors. Sheet has majorly the following important points –
- Recruits in the Agneepath scheme will be provided with a financial package and a bank loan scheme if they wish to go for a startup.
- After 4 years of service, those who are willing to study further, they will be given class 12 equivalent certificate and bridging course.
- For those who want to continue with a job, they will be given priority in CAPFs and state police. “Several avenues are also being opened up for them in other sectors,” it added.
- Mentioning the opportunities available for the youth, it mentioned, “In the coming years, recruitment of Agniveers will be around triple of the current recruitment in armed forces,”
- Answering the doubts regarding the effectiveness of armed forces, the government has mentioned that the number of Agniveers to be recruited in the first year would only make up 3% of the armed forces and it will not impact the pre-established system that much.
- Talking about its experimental nature, they mentioned, “Such short-term enlistment system exists in most countries and hence is already tested out and considered best practice for youthful and agile army,”.
- critics are arguing that 21-year-olds are immature and unreliable for the army. Answering to that, they added that most armies across the world depend upon their youths. “At no point of time will there be more youngsters than experienced people. The present scheme will only bring about a right mix of 50%-50%, slowly in a very long run, of youngsters and experienced supervisory ranks,” it said.
- They also added that there will be no affect on regimental bonding, saying, “No change is being done to the regimental system. In fact, it will be further accentuated because the best of Agniveers will be selected, further boosting the cohesiveness of the unit,” it said.
- Document also mentioned, “Youngsters who have worn the uniform for four years will remain committed to the country for the rest of their lives. Even now thousands retire from armed forces with skills etc but there have not been any instances of them joining anti-national forces,” it said.
- There is also a criticism that its major stakeholders that is mainly the armed force personnel have not been consulted, on which the the government said: “Extensive consultations with serving armed forces officer for last two years. The proposal has been framed by the Department of Military Officers staffed by Military officers.”
- Focusing more on the question of their capabilities, they added, “Additionally, the performance of the Agniveers will be tested before re-induction in the army after four years. Hence, Army will get tested and tried personnel for supervisory ranks,”.