‘Agnipath’ Recruitment Scheme Under Scanner


‘Agnipath’ Recruitment Scheme Under Scanner

The Janata Dal (United) or JD(U), a key partner of the  BJP, is said to have sought a review of the contentious Agnipath short-service scheme for defence personnel. In the event the incoming regime scraps it altogether, Meghna Mittal (Deputy News Editor, Moneycontrol) writes “the pension burden on the exchequer is likely to increase.”

The scheme, introduced by the Narendra Modi government in its previous term, involves recruiting youth in the 17.5-21 age bracket as soldiers for four years. Its aim is to modernise the military forces, create a youthful and agile profile, and reduce long-term financial burdens associated with pensions and other benefits.

Currently, at the end of their tenure, Agniveers, as the recruits under the scheme are called, receive a one-time  package, which is a lump sum amount accrued from their own contributions, the government's contribution, and interest. After completing four years of service, 25 percent of Agniveers are absorbed as the regular cadre of the armed forces, based on merit and organisational requirements.  The remaining 75 percent will return to civilian life with the not-time  package and skills training, enhancing their employability in various sectors.

India, writes Mittal  “has already been grappling with record allocations when it comes to defence spending, especially on account of pensions in the wake of the one rank, one pension rule that came into effect in July 2014. And one of the primary reasons why the Agnipath scheme was introduced was to keep a check on the rising burden.

“Soldiers recruited under the older order have longer service tenures, leading to higher cumulative salary costs compared to the short-term service under the Agnipath scheme.”

Traditional recruitment “also requires more extensive and repeated training programmes over a soldier’s career, increasing costs. In contrast, the Agnipath scheme’s short tenure aims to optimise training expenditure over the four-year period.”

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