Secure the future of retiring agniveers 

The Centre is firm on not rolling back the Agnipath scheme. The Indian Army on June 20 issued a notification with a timeline for recruitment of the first batch of Agniveers.

Published: 28th June 2022 06:59 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th June 2022 06:59 AM   |  A+A-

Protest against the Central government’s Agnipath Scheme turns violent as protestors set train bogies on fire at Secunderabad Railway Station. (Photo | Vinay Madapu/EPS)

The Centre is firm on not rolling back the Agnipath scheme. The Indian Army on June 20 issued a notification with a timeline for recruitment of the first batch of Agniveers. The Indian Navy and Indian Air Force are to follow shortly. The first batch will commence training in December 2022, and report to Army units in July 2023. Two issues propelled fears over the scheme that entails annually recruiting about 46,000 Agniveers for the armed forces.

 First, what happens to the 75% of Agniveers (34,500) who will be eased out of the forces? Secondly, the fear among aspiring defence forces personnel who are taken in through general recruitment. The three service chiefs have assured that there would be no change in the existing system of recruitment and that the Agnipath scheme aims at lowering the age profile of the forces. The fear was mainly based on the timing of the introduction of the scheme. It comes after three years (2020–2022) of non-recruitment, and the sudden announcement on June 14 sowed seeds of suspicion that Agnipath will replace general recruitment. The service chiefs have firmly denied it.

The crucial part is securing the future of 34,500 Agniveers—starting 2027—after their four years of service. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and several Union ministers have pitched for job reservations for Agniveers in sectors falling under the defence ministry. Various state governments have assured them jobs in their state police services.

A concrete shape to the post-service recruitment for Agniveers is of utmost importance. This is why the Agniveers will exit service aged anywhere between 22 and 26 with Rs 11.78 lakh. They will be back in the civilian fold with hardcore military training. The world of crime could entice them if jobs do not come their way and desperation sets in.  The US experience post-World War II is there for all to see. Soldiers returning from the war faced unemployment and they took to crime. India has too many problems to add such a potentially dangerous one.
 



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