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  • Geet Agrawal

Agnipath: A Revolution in the making?

The Agnipath Scheme is a tour of duty style scheme which was approved on June 14 2022 and implemented in September 2022. With the Agnipath scheme, young men and women between the ages of 17.5 and 23 years are recruited as soldiers below the rank of commissioned officers for a period of four years. The people recruited will be called Agniveers and they would be a distinct military rank, regardless of the Armed Force they serve in, the Indian Navy, Indian Air Force or Indian Army. Annually, 45000-50000 soldiers are recruited. Agniveers will be trained for 6 months and deployed for 3.5 years. According to the scheme, at the end of the four-year contract, 25% of the Agniveers will continue their service and 75% will be discharged on the basis of their performance.

The Agnipath scheme faces protests over concerns of weakening the armed forces and causing youth unemployment. Veterans also criticize it for affecting morale and limiting career opportunities for the youth. The ongoing agitation revolves around uncertainty for the future of the Agniveers, lacking job security and impacting the mental health of the youth. There are also concerns regarding the danger to the Agniveers’ lives as it takes 7-8 years to become a fully trained combatant and this scheme may put them in situations they are not prepared for. There were several protests against the scheme which resorted to violence and extreme destruction in the states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.

The government defends the Agnipath scheme, emphasizing its aim to enhance the armed forces’ agility and responsiveness to security changes. They highlight the opportunity for the young people to gain valuable skills and experience for civilian jobs after four years of service. The scheme provides a Rs. 11-12 lakh Seva Nidhi package to demobilized individuals and assist them to start a second career with priority bank loans. This is for their retirement or education apart from the handsome monthly salary they received for their service, along with support for business loans and bridging courses for further studies. They also get priority in IT, Security, and Engineering careers. Career choices for demobilized Agniveers include options in CAPFs, police, Assam Rifles, and allied forces.

In conclusion, at this juncture, it remains too early to predict whether the Agnipath scheme will have a positive or negative impact on the country’s progress and youth. The true impact of the Agnipath scheme can only be determined through thorough and unbiased evaluations in the future.

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