From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Agnipath Scheme
Mains level : Issues with Agnipath Scheme
Massive protests are occurring against the Agnipath scheme all across the nation.
What is the Agnipath Scheme?
- This will be the only form of recruitment of soldiers into the three defence services from now.
- The scheme aims at strengthening national security and for providing an opportunity to the youth to serve in the armed forces.
- Recruits under the scheme will be known as ‘Agniveers’.
- After completing the four-year service, they can apply for regular employment in the armed forces.
- They may be given priority over others for various jobs in other government departments.
- The move is expected to decrease the average age profile of armed forces personnel from the current 32 to 24-26 years over a period of time.
Why are aspirants protesting?
- Contractualisation of armed forces: The foundation of this scheme is a four-year contract.
- Jobs for the majority: States such as Bihar, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan, are where the bulk of the Army recruitment takes place.
- Perks and benefits: Many of these people value job stability, which includes retirement benefits and pensions over competitive salaries.
- Uncertainty after end of commission: Most of them will be forced to leave the job within four years, which doesn’t fit into their hopes and aspirations.
- Casualization of Training: It reportedly takes two to three years to train a member of the army, but as a part of the Agnipath, soldiers will only be trained for six months.
- Threats to national security: Defence analysts have allegedly pointed out that the Russian soldiers who were trained for a limited amount of time before they went to war have performed disastrously.
- Conflicts of interest: Apprehensions have been voiced against how the new recruits will be adjusted in the existing system under which most of the Army units are region, caste or class based.
Reasons behind aspirants’ frustration
- Unemployment: Analysts always cite the crunch of gazetted officers in the Armed forces and there has been no recruitment for the last two years.
- Pandemic impact: Many aspirants lost their chance to join the Armed forces as they are now overage.’
- Unanticipated reforms: In guise of a push for “major defence policy reform”, the scheme is a fuss.
What is the official explanation?
- Once retired, aspirants will be free to pursue other careers, with several departments and governments.
- Aspirants will get preference, educational credits, skill certificates, to help them rehabilitate in other fields.
- Those wishing to be entrepreneurs will get a financial package and bank loans and those wishing to study further will be given 12 class equivalent certificate.
- For job-seekers, the government has already said they will get priority in the Central Armed Police Forces.
- The modalities of how this will happen are still being worked out.
- But one thing is very clear, poorly crafted schemes are on the rise.
- For making any scheme a success, pre-legislative consultation and discussion in the public domain is a must.