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Agnipath Scheme

The Government of India has unveiled a new programme called Agnipath Scheme to enlist non-commissioned personnel in the three branches of the Indian Armed Forces. There will be no other way to join the military but through the Agnipath Scheme. Agniveers, a new military rank for those recruited using this technique, will be the designation given to those recruited.

The Union government did not issue a white paper prior to implementing the new recruiting method. Parliament and the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence did not discuss the plan. Before it was announced on the 15th of June, the public had no idea what the plan was. Efforts to execute it will begin in September 2022 after it had been authorised by the Indian government in June 2022. The former system's long tenures, pensions, and other perks won't apply under this plan.

The programme is open to both men and women between the ages of 17.5 and 21. (23 years as a one time waiver for the year 2022). Recruitment for the Indian Army, Navy, and Airforce will be conducted twice a year through this programme. The positions that would be open would be below the level of officer.

The only way to join the military would be through the Agnipath Scheme. The recruits named Agniveers will serve as for a tenure of four years that includes training for six months followed by 3.5 years deployment, endowed with a pay package of Rs. 4.76 lacs per annum in the first year upgradeable to Rs.6.92 lacs per annum by the end of the 4th year, with the recruits having to bear 30% of the emolument share as contribution toward corpus of around Rs. 11.71 lacs, exempted of income tax that the recruits will receive at the end of four years of service.

A day following the launch of the scheme, violent protests broke out in various Indian states as army hopefuls who were unhappy with the new programme demanded for its repeal and vandalised public property, causing significant damage to public infrastructure. More than 300 train movements were impacted as a result of 12 train fires on June 17th. 11 trains were diverted and 90 were terminated because of cancellations or delays.

For the past three years, there has been no Army recruiting. Recruiting in the Indian Army was halted because of the COVID-19 outbreak. As a result, the Army's operational capabilities began to deteriorate due to a personnel shortfall that was occurring every year.

Up to 25% of Agniveers selected from applicant recruits through centralised screening assessment will be selected for the regular cadre on the basis of merit and demonstrated performance in those four years, with fixed pay scales and pension benefits in accordance with the extant regulations applicable to Agniveers after retirement from service. The Indian Army's pension plan does not cover those who leave the army before they have served four years. The Indian government expects to fill 45,000 to 50,000 positions per year with the help of this programme.

Opposition parties in India have asked the scheme to be put on hold and that the scheme be discussed in the Parliament.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) CPI(M) stated that it strongly disapproved "the 'Agnipath' scheme that does disservice to India's national interests. Professional armed forces cannot be raised by recruiting 'soldiers on contract' for a period of four years. This scheme, to save pension money, severely compromises the quality and efficiency of our professional armed forces."

Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav called the scheme, "negligent" and potentially "fatal" for the country's future.

Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) chief said hat the people returning after four years of service would cause gang wars in the country.

Congress party called the scheme neither in the interest of the country nor its security, and has asked for a rollback of the scheme.

Congress MP Rahul Gandhi said that the Centre will be forced to roll back the Agnipath recruitment scheme and the PM will have to apologise to the youth of the country.

Haryana leader of opposition, Bhupinder Singh Hooda stated "It has far-reaching consequences and these have not been fully considered while preparing this scheme. In the long run, the policy would have a detrimental impact on our national security," he alleged "It seems the government is compromising with the security of the country with the intention of saving money on salary, pension, gratuity and halving the strength of the armed forces."

Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann stated that "This is an insult to the Army. It is a cheating with the youth of the country. This is an insult to the Army. It is a cheating with the youth of the country. This mindless decision has put the country on boil as the youth have come on roads to protest against this irresponsible move of the centre."

After the unveiling of the programme on 15 June 2022, some states witnessed violent protests by aspirants who demanded for its reversal and damaged public property, including as buses and trains, in protest of the new policy. A total of 200 trains have been disrupted, 35 have been cancelled, and 13 have been terminated before reaching their final destinations as a result of the demonstrations.

More than 300 train movements were impacted as a result of 12 train fires on June 17th. 11 trains were diverted and 90 were terminated because of cancellations or delays. In Telangana, a 19-year-old protester was shot and killed. Twelve districts in Bihar were left without access to the internet.

Written By: Samridhi Sharma
, LLB(3rd year)
Email: [email protected]

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