Indian Army Updates

Will the Agnipath scheme be revamped? | Explained 


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Mains level: Issues Associated with the Scheme

Why in the news?

Following the 2024 election results, NDA allies Janata Dal (United) and Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas) raised concerns about the Agnipath scheme and called for discussions on the matter.

What is the Agnipath scheme?

  • The Agnipath scheme recruits soldiers, sailors, and airmen into the Indian armed forces for a four-year term, replacing the previous system of permanent recruitment. After completing their four-year tenure, up to 25% of Agniveers can be selected for permanent positions within the armed forces.
  • Agniveers can obtain educational certificates and skill certifications during their service. They receive a lump sum amount upon completing their tenure but are not eligible for a pension.

Issues Associated with the Scheme

  • Personnel Shortage: There is a significant shortage of personnel in the ‘below officer’s rank’ cadres, exacerbated by the recruitment freeze during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Army retires around 60,000 soldiers annually but only recruits 40,000, leading to a growing shortfall.
  • Low Conversion Rate: The 25% conversion rate from Agniveers to regular soldiers is considered insufficient to address the personnel shortage.
  • Compressed Training: The four-year tenure necessitates a shorter training period, which may impact the quality of training.
  • Political and Social Opposition: The scheme has faced political opposition and led to violent protests in some parts of the country. Critics argue for a clause-by-clause review or complete scrapping of the scheme.

Present Scenario

As the Agnipath scheme marks two years since its implementation, the Department of Military Affairs (DMA) in the Defence Ministry is reviewing the scheme based on feedback from the armed forces.

  • Feedback Compilation: The Navy and Air Force have compiled their feedback, while the Army is still in the process.
  • Recommendations: Suggestions include increasing the intake numbers, raising the permanent recruitment rate from 25% to at least 50%, and extending the age limit for technical recruits from 21 to 23 years.
  • Review Process: The DMA will compile all recommendations and submit them to the Defence Ministry for potential adjustments to the scheme.

Way forward:

  • Enhance Educational and Skill Development Opportunities: Partner with educational institutions to provide Agniveers with advanced degrees and certifications that are recognized nationwide. Offer vocational training and skill development programs that are aligned with industry standards, improving post-service employability.
  • Increase Permanent Induction Rate: Raise the conversion rate of Agniveers to permanent positions from 25% to at least 50% to address the personnel shortage effectively.

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