Hello, friends! On 14th June, the government introduced a new scheme, for recruitment into the Indian Armed Forces.
The Agneepath Scheme
Not even a few days elapsed from the announcement that the youth came down to the streets to protest against it. Like always, some protests turned violent, and public property was torched. But the biggest question here is that
- Why is this scheme so controversial?
- Why are the people enraged over this Agnipath Scheme?
In today's article, let's understand this scheme. What are the pros and cons of this scheme? The youth preparing to join the Indian Army are becoming more violent due to the Agneepath scheme. At least 9 trains have been set on fire due to the controversy over the Agneepath scheme in different parts of the country. The protestors set a railway coach on fire blocked highways, barricaded rail lines, and even some politicians and their residences were targeted.
Agneepath Age Limit
As per the Agneepath Scheme, 46,000 soldiers would be recruited every year for the Indian Armed Forces. People from ages 17.5 years to 21 years are eligible, and those who are selected for this scheme would be known as Agniveer. A solemn-sounding name, but this service wouldn't be for the commissioned posts. Such as the Lieutenants and Lieutenant Generals. These selected candidates would be recruited for non-commissioned ranks only. Such as the ranks of Sepoy and Naik.
Agneepath Salary Details
The ranks of officers in the Indian Army have been listed in this chart. Angiveers would be eligible for these lower ranks only. In the first year, the recruits would get a salary of around ₹30,000 per month. And by the fourth year, it would be increased to ₹40,000 per month. Additionally, when the soldiers leave their post 4 years later, they would be given a lump sum amount of ₹1.1 million from the government's Seva Nidhi Scheme.
|Year||Monthly Package||In-Hand (70%)||Contribution to Agniveer Corpus Fund (30%)|
|1st Year||Rs. 30000||21000||9000|
|2nd Year||Rs. 33000||23100||9900|
|3rd Year||Rs. 36500||25580||10950|
|4th Year||Rs. 40000||28000||12000|
This additional ₹1.1 million isn't entirely from the government. Around 30% of it would be from the Agniveer's monthly salary, you might ask why would they leave their posts 4 years later.
Disadvantages of this Agneepath Scheme
Friends, that is the biggest drawback of this scheme. This recruitment, the Agniveer's post, will be for 4 years only. Once these 4 years are over, the government will give them a certificate, and the money, and then let them go.
They'll have to look for other jobs. This will happen to at least 75% of the Agniveers. The government has said that up to 25% of the Agniveers, would be re-enlisted in the regular cadre for full-time service.
But only 25%. The government has promised that they will give employment. That there would be employment generation.
But the reality is that 75% of the Agniveers would be employed for only 4 years, after which they'll be unemployed once again, and then they'll have to look for another job once again.
- There's no job security
- and no pension
And friends, this is the main reason, why the youth of the country is out on the streets protesting against the Agneepath Scheme. Looking at the present circumstances, people are worried about their future.
When people think of government jobs
They expect a job where they'll get a permanent source of income, social security, job security, and pension. And being an Army Officer is a highly respectable job. In India, Army Officers get additional benefits too. Such as subsidized housing and food, but under the new scheme, there are no additional benefits, not even the basic benefits of other government jobs. The protestors say that the government isn't able to generate actual jobs, and that's why they're coming up with temporary solutions. That they're pretending to generate jobs, but the jobs aren't actually benefiting anyone.
Benefits of the Agnipath Scheme
The supporters of the Agnipath Scheme say that don't look at it as a half-empty glass when it is half-full. They claim that the government is giving the youth a wonderful opportunity. They're getting 4 years of guaranteed work. Even though they aren't getting full-time employment. they are getting a job for 4 years. In which they'll get a good salary of ₹30,000 per month,
excellent training facilities, they'll get to learn so much, develop new skills, gain new experiences, and at the end of the 4 years, they'll get a certificate and some additional money. They can use the money to start a new business after 4 years. Or they can spend some time looking for a new job. They also claim that it wouldn't be difficult for the ex-Agniveers to get a new job because of the skills they'd acquire and their experience. After all, they'd be an Agniveer. But the counterpoint of the counterpoint is that
will the experience really help them to get a new job?
If they want a technical job, if they want a job at a private company, they could have worked for a college degree in the four years. Perhaps that would have been better. Rather than being an Agniveer for 4 years. At the end of the 4 years, it would be more difficult for Agniveers to get admission into a regular college, because they'd be competing with 18-years-old high-school graduates. And because this scheme is for non-commissioned officers, people are also worried about what if they don't get to learn important skills in these 4 years, which might help them get a new job, You can see an example of this even now. Nowadays, most of the retiring non-commissioned officers, about 38 or 40 years old,
What kind of jobs do they get?
Mostly, they get the job of a security guard. They are seen outside an ATM or a bank as a security guard. They don't get a well-paid, pensioned job. So the point raised by many retired army officers is that will the Agniveers be motivated enough? Emotionally speaking, will they have the same commitment, same zeal as a regular army officer? Because their jobs wouldn't be full-time. On top of it, the martyr's families wouldn't get the same security. We know the level of motivation needed to be a soldier. Especially when they are in the mountains of the Himalayas posted under extreme conditions.
Do other countries also give such schemes to their youth?
If you look at other countries, you can see similar things. Even in America, there's a similar scheme for the US Army. But do you know the results of it? Currently, in the USA, at least 11% of the homeless population is Army Veterans.
In the USA, an Army Veteran has a higher chance of being unemployed as compared to a normal American. One of the biggest reasons for this is said to be the faulty pension system of the USA, which makes it difficult for the veterans to draw their pensions. And also that the US government doesn't provide good benefits to its soldiers. One this is certain, the protestors' argument isn't wrong.
Because the government reacted. The BJP Chief Ministers of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and Madhya Pradesh, they've said that in their states, they'll give priority to the ex-Agniveers for jobs. For the government jobs in their states. The government increased the age limit for the first batch of Agniveer From the maximum age of 21 years to 23 years. And the politicians from various governments have said that in their government jobs in their states and departments, the Agniveers would get a preference.
Agniveer Scheme After 4 Years
But the question is this preference a form of guarantee? Are they giving a guarantee to the 75% of the Agniveers, who'll be rejected, will then be given new jobs? There's no such guarantee till now. The reality is that till now we're unaware of how marketable would be the experience of being an Agniveers After completing 4 years as an Agniveer,
- what will be their qualification?
- What will happen to their studies?
There are numerous questions. But one of the questions is what you might be wondering too, why did the government bring this scheme? What was the need to bring this?
The government listed 3 benefits of this Agneepath scheme.
You can see them as three reasons, why the Agneepath Scheme was implemented.
- 1:- The first is said to be to maintain an age balance in the military.
Today, the average age of officers in the Army is 32 years But once this scheme is implemented, more than half of the Army personnel would be young, which would lower the average age of the Army. Then the Indian Army would be comprised mostly of young people. Although this can be seen as a disadvantage as well. Because they'll be less experienced.
- 2:- The second benefit listed by the government is that the pension load on the military would be reduced.
The current defense budget is at INR 5.25 trillion Of which, INR 1.2 trillion is spent on one pension. Defense expert Amit Cowshish says that 55% of the military budget is spent on salaries and pensions currently. If we compare the total amount of salary and pension given to a soldier is the duty of 17 years, and the money that's going to be spent on an Agniveer, there would be a saving of around ₹115 million. So under the current system, the Army officers get many kinds of pensions. And the government wants to cut this. If the government hires Agniveers instead of soldiers under the old schemes, they won't have to pay pensions for so many people. The government would then be able to save so much money.
- 3:- And then, the government says, they'll use the money to modernize the military.
It means that instead of spending on pensions and salaries. they'll use it to buy new weapons and invest in new technologies. It isn't being done in India only.
In 2012, the United Kingdom reduced its Army size by 12%. It's being said that the US is preparing to extinguish 40,000 army soldiers' posts. Even China has cut its military from 2.5 million soldiers to 2.3 million. They further plan to reduce it to 1 million soldiers and invest the money saved in modern technology.
what people have to say on this
To counter this, the people ask, if the aim is to save money, why aren't the pensions of the politicians, the MPs, and the MLAs, being cut? If a politician is an MP or an MLA for even one term, they get a lifelong pension. Why Politicians should be Agniveers too? They should be the MP or the MLA for 5 years, and then bid them adieu, without any pensions. They should look for new jobs too. Another interesting argument is that is it really the government's job to give employment to people?
- How can we solve the debate between the two arguments?
People are protesting basically because they believe that it is the government's duty to give them a job. A job where they'd get a pension in addition to other benefits. But is it really the government's responsibility to directly provide a citizen with a job?
That responsibility arises only in a country where the government controls the economy entirely. Like the communist countries. But it is the responsibility of the government to provide its citizens with good employment opportunities. Whether directly or indirectly through private jobs. Some of you may say that the government is already doing so.
If you look at the data, the average salaries in the private sector jobs, stand at around ₹565,000.
|Total contribution to Agniveer Corpus Fund after four years- Rs 5.02 Lakh|
|Exit After 4 years- Rs 11.71 Lakh as Seva Nidhi Package (Including, interest accumulated on the above amount as per the applicable interest rates would also be paid)|
But the jobs for the others in the private sector aren't of good quality. After the 1991 liberalization, about 90% of the private jobs created in India. have been informal.
Informal jobs mean, there are no pensions or other benefits in those jobs. Like the job of a construction worker. This is the main problem in the Indian economy. There are many private-sector jobs, but they lack in their quality. In such a situation, what would the people choose? Government jobs. But the situation isn't so good there either. Since the 1991 liberalization, there has been a decline in the government jobs, Because the government has given up a significant portion of its control over the economy.
Due to this, we get to see such news. Where for 370 peon positions, 5 million people apply, Or for a position of a waiter in the Secretariat, for only 11 posts, 7,000 people applied. In a situation where the number of government jobs is declining, the youth is losing at both ends. But does this mean that the government shouldn't reform the government sector? No, the government should bring in reforms. We know that there are many government services such as education, health, and police, which are far below the acceptable standard.
Who among us is happy with the health, education, and police in India? And the reason for it is that there aren't enough government employees in India to provide these services.
Look at this example In comparison with other countries, India's police force per capita is severely understaffed. Why doesn't the government hire more police officers and healthcare workers? Because the financial position of the Indian government isn't very well.