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Agniveers: Leading India into the 21st century

New Delhi: Joining the three wings of the Indian Army has always been a matter of pride and honour for the Indian youth. Adding to this dream of serving the nation is the recently-launched Agniveer scheme, which also secures the future of our youth.
In one of the most ambitious and attractive recruitment schemes to have come up in the world, the Government of India launched the incredibly large-scale Agnipath scheme for the Indian youth to serve in the armed forces last year. In fact, the first batch of Agniveers started their training with the Prime Minister addressing the maiden batch last month.
Along with ensuring that the armed forces become more youthful and technologically viable, it would lead to a major modernisation of the forces as well. Amidst the challenges of contactless warfare and cyber-attacks, technologically-enabled soldiers will play a major role in ensuring that the country is well-equipped to deal with such avenues as well.
Designed to provide a youthful profile to the Armed Forces, it is also a massive opportunity for the youth who may have been keen to don the uniform but were unwilling to serve a full term of 30 or more years in the armed forces. This would not only be beneficial to the youth but also to the army which would now get a fresh lease of life, enthusiasm and vigour.
Estimates believe that the average age profile of the Indian Armed Forces would come down by about six years due to the implementation of the scheme, thereby providing an additional advantage to our forces.
An inspired youth with a deep understanding of technology, self-discipline and patriotism is bound to pay large dividends to the society and nation at large.
In fact, after four years of military service, Agniveers are expected to prove themselves fit, disciplined and upbeat. It has been decided that a 10 per cent horizontal reservation would be enabled for the post of constables, riflemen to ex-Agniveers when the first batch becomes available for recruitment as well.
In addition, the Defence Ministry has also approved a reservation of about 10 per cent of the total vacancies of the Ministry which includes the Coast Guard, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and 16 other public sector undertakings within the ministry. Similarly, the Home Ministry has approved a 10 per cent reservation in the recruitment vacancies of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) and Assam Rifles as well along with the necessary age relaxation (3 and 5 years for CAPFs and Assam Rifles respectively).
Many ready-for-service will be involved in aircraft maintenance, flight safety, air cargo, drones, etc., and will have decent experience relevant to aviation Page 2 of 2 sector industry. This can be harnessed in a myriad of ways and would provide further employment opportunities to the Agniveers.
While the engagement period shall stand for four years, 25 per cent of the recruits shall be asked to continue even after that. Those that are then asked to exit shall get a total exit package of around 11.7 lakh rupees - which shall be known as the Seva Nidhi package. As an additional benefit, this package shall be exempt from income tax in recognition of the services given by the youth towards the country.
Among other benefits, Agniveers shall also be provided with a life insurance cover of about 48 lakh rupees throughout the duration of the engagement period.
To the extent possible, the government shall also help to rehabilitate these soldiers by providing them with skill certificates and bridge courses to create entrepreneurs and a skilled workforce.
To boost their career prospects, the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) has developed courses that would recognise in-service training as credit towards a bachelor's degree for eligible defence personnel. Upto 50 per cent credit for in-service skill education or training shall be provided for in the curriculum as well. Successful completion of the requirements of the program will lead to the conferment of a bachelor's degree equivalent to any other traditional course recognised by the Departmental Under Graduate Committee (DUGC) and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).
Apart from being a transformative reform for the Armed Forces, it would also provide for much better trained, motivated and disciplined youth. The Government of India has acted on its announcement that the recruitment shall begin on a mission mode with the first batch undergoing training already.
It becomes an even more significant policy decision given the increased threat of the Pakistan-China axis. Additionally, it also helps mitigate the damage of a shortage of personnel at a lower cost along with a modernized and well-equipped youthful armed forces demographic. All in all, this out-of-the-box solution certainly possesses all the necessary elements that would build a new India that is stronger, fitter and healthier in all respects. (ANI)

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