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About Agnipath Scheme

Context:

Recently, an Agniveer passed away on duty at the Siachen glacier, which sparked a controversy regarding the entitlement of pensions and Compensation for the families of Agniveers.

Relevance:

GS II- Government policies and Interventions

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Compensation Promised After the Demise of an Agniveer
  2. What is the Agnipath scheme?
  3. What is the eligibility criteria?
  4. What happens after selection?
  5. When will the recruitment actually begin?
  6. How will the scheme benefit the armed forces and the recruits?

Compensation Promised After the Demise of an Agniveer:

Seva Nidhi:
  • An Agniveer’s family is eligible for various forms of compensation, which include:
    • A non-contributory insurance sum of Rs 48 lakh.
    • Compensation of Rs 44 lakh.
    • 30% of Seva Nidhi contributed by the Agniveer, matched by an equal contribution from the government.
  • These amounts also accrue interest.
Armed Forces Battle Casualty Fund:
  • The family receives pay for the remaining tenure from the date of death, totaling over Rs 13 lakh.
  • Additionally, they receive a contribution of Rs 8 lakh from the Armed Forces Battle Casualty Fund.
Army Wives Welfare Association:
  • To offer immediate financial assistance, the Army Wives Welfare Association provides Rs 30,000 to the next of kin.

What is the Agnipath scheme?

  • Under the new scheme, around 45,000 to 50,000 soldiers will be recruited annually, and most will leave the service in just four years.
  • Of the total annual recruits, only 25 per cent will be allowed to continue for another 15 years under permanent commission.
  • The move will make the permanent force levels much leaner for the over 13-lakh strong armed forces in the country.
  • This will, in turn, considerably reduce the defence pension bill, which has been a major concern for governments for many years.

What is the eligibility criteria?

  • The new system is only for personnel below officer ranks (those who do not join the forces as commissioned officers).
  • Under the Agnipath scheme, aspirants between the ages of 17.5 years and 23 years will be eligible to apply.
  • The recruitment standards will remain the same, and recruitment will be done twice a year through rallies.

What happens after selection?

  • Once selected, the aspirants will go through training for six months and then will be deployed for three and a half years.
  • During this period, they will get a starting salary of Rs 30,000, along with additional benefits which will go up to Rs 40,000 by the end of the four-year service.
  • Importantly, during this period, 30 per cent of their salary will be set aside under a Seva Nidhi programme, and the government will contribute an equal amount every month, and it will also accrue interest.
  • At the end of the four-year period, each soldier will get Rs 11.71 lakh as a lump sum amount, which will be tax-free.
  • They will also get a Rs 48 lakh life insurance cover for the four years.
  • In case of death, the payout will be over Rs 1 crore, including pay for the unserved tenure.
  • However, after four years, only 25 per cent of the batch will be recruited back into their respective services, for a period of 15 years.
  • For those who are re-selected, the initial four-year period will not be considered for retirement benefits.

When will the recruitment actually begin?

  • Recruitment will begin within 90 days under the scheme which will bring “all India, all class” recruitment to the services.
  • This is especially significant for the Army, where the regiment system has region and caste bases, and with time that will be eliminated to allow anybody from any caste, region, class or religious background to become part of existing regiments.

How will the scheme benefit the armed forces and the recruits?

  • The average age in the forces is 32 years today, which will go down to 26 in six to seven years, the scheme envisions.
  • It will create “future-ready” soldiers.
  •  A youthful armed forces will allow them to be easily trained for new technologies.
  • It will increase employment opportunities and because of the skills and experience acquired during the four-year service such soldiers will get employment in various fields.
  • This will also lead to availability of a higher-skilled workforce to the economy which will be helpful in productivity gain and overall GDP growth.
  • The government will help rehabilitate soldiers who leave the services after four years. They will be provided with skill certificates and bridge courses. The impetus will be to create entrepreneurs.

-Source: The Hindu


April 2024
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