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EXPLAINED: What Is Agnipath Scheme; Is The Stir Fair?

Protests have started in different parts of the country regarding this scheme. Students have taken to the streets protesting against it

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Defense Minister Rajnath Singh announced the launch of a new scheme named 'Agnipath' on June 14. In this, youth will be recruited in the armed forces for four years. The youth selected under the scheme will be called 'Agniveer' and this year around 46,000 youths are planned to join the Sahastra forces. However, since this announcement of the central government, there has been discontent against it in different states of the country. The protests against the scheme are getting severe day by day

Let's go into more details of the scheme, its effect, and people's opinion.

Agnipath Scheme in brief

This plan involves an enrollment process for people with positions below officers level. The scheme is determined to deploy fitter, more youth soldiers on the frontlines, maximum of whom will be on 4-year contracts. The plan brings an unique advantage for the Army, Navy, and Air Force to deploy more young individuals.

Under the Agnipath scheme, this year 46,000 youth are to be inducted into the armed forces. The age of Agniveers (men and women) will be between 17 to 21 years who would be enrolled on "All India All Class" basis. The minimum qualification need is Std 10 for the post of General Duty soldier. The applicants would have to fulfill medical requirements for military enlistment for different categories/trades.

After 4 years, the Agniveers will be eligible to apply voluntarily for the regular cadre. Based on merit, organisation requirement, up to 25 per cent shall be selected from that batch for another full 15 years term and the remaining 75 per cent will have to leave the job.

The primary year salary package is Rs 4.76 lakh, with an increment to Rs 6.92 lakh in the fourth year. Following, the Seva Nidhi package costs roughly Rs 11.71 lakh, including interest (tax exempt). There is likewise a Rs 48 lakh non-contributory insurance cover. Apart from that, if someone gets an Agniveer skill certificate, it will assist them with finding post-release employment.

Why is the Youth protesting?

Youth are protesting against this scheme in many states of the country. Bihar has witnessed the maximum number of protests. Apart from that Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Telangana, Rajasthan and Haryana are strongly protesting for immediate rollback of the scheme.

The side of the youth preparing to join the army says that they work hard for many years and prepare to join the army. In such a situation, they do not accept a job of four years. The students and youth have been so ignited by the scheme that they have set several trains on fire in the last three days. So far, road and rail traffic is disrupted in 19 districts of Bihar including Patna, Khagaria, Bhagalpur, Begusarai, Samastipur and Ara. At the same time, 21 trains are running late.

Protesters torched several bogies of a train at Secunderabad railway station in Telangana today. To control the situation, the police opened fire, in which one died and many got injured.

Political Oppose

BSP supremo Mayawati had hit out at the Union government over its new Agnipath scheme of recruiting soldiers, terming it 'unfair towards rural youth'.

“Even though it has been called an attractive scheme, the youths of the country are dissatisfied and angry. They are openly opposing the change in the army recruitment system,” Mayawati said in a tweet in Hindi.

Congress general secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala opposed the Agnipath scheme and said the Narendra Modi government is playing with the country's security and future of the youth.

"They believe four-year contractual recruitment is not a favourable message for the country's security", he said.

Senior Congress leader and former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said the Agnipath scheme is neither in the interest of the country nor in the interest of the youth.

"The jawan recruited at the age of 17 under the Agnipath scheme will retire at the age of 21 without pension. Similarly, a jawan recruited at the age of 21 will retire by the age of 25. But what will he do after that, the government has no answer," he said.

Pros

  • The Agnipath Scheme will strenghthen the Indian armed forces with more young soldiers. It is an opportunity for the youth to serve the nation.

  • The scheme is an example for the modern era as it has reservations for girls as well. The plan promises to recruit women also in Navy as sailors according to their skills and ability.

  • After 4 years, the Agniveers who leave can get an assistance through bank loans to establish their second career.

    Myths

  • The biggest con of the scheme is about finding another job as its not easy to get an employment nowadays. After four years of service the individuals will have to find other jobs, and will have to train accordingly that can make them lagging behind others of their age.

  • The Agniveers will not get any pension after 4 years which will lead difficulties to run their families. Though, they will be given bank loans, it would not guarantee a secured employment.

  • There are additionally worries that the soldiers enlisting in the Army, Navy and Air Force will be given specialised training with the goal that they can uphold the continuous tasks. But as these people will leave after four years, the Indian armed forces may lose 75 per cent of trained and experienced soldiers.

  • Apart from such, retiring the Agniveers after 4 years can be like gambling with the secrecy and reliability of the Indian armed forces. There can be chances of using them as a pawn by negative elements of the nation.


Government's Side

To the myths arose by the protesting bodies regarding the Agnipath scheme, government has made some fact clear.

Centre has said that the Agniveers who will get retired after their duty would get financial help package for starting an entrepreneurship. They can also apply for a bank loan. Other than those who wish to go for a job after 4 years of Agnipath scheme will be given priority in CAPFs and state police forces.

The government explained that the opportunities for youth to serve in Indian armed forces will increase as with the coming years, the recruitment of 'Agniveers' is expected to triple as compared to the recent recruitment number.

It was cleared by the centre that the performance of 'Agniveers' will be examined as per their performance and competency before re-induction in the army after four years. They should be eligible for supervisory ranks.

The government has said that those who believe that the retired Agniveers can be instigated by negative elements are insulting the Indian armed forces. There have been many retired officials but there has not been any incident as such.


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