Widespread protests over Agnipath scheme for military jobs
A day after the Centre launched Agnipath, a radical recruitment plan for the armed forces, protests have erupted at various parts of the country, with youngsters accusing the government of making a fool of them.
Protests broke out in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur and Buxar today, with the protesters asking what they will do after four years. The new recruitment plan aims to cut down government’s massive salary and pension bills and free up funds for arms procurement.
Under the scheme, about 45,000 people between the age of 17.5 years and 21 years will be inducted into the services for a four-year tenure. During this period, they will be paid a monthly salary between Rs 30,000-40,000 plus allowances. They will also be entitled to medical and insurance benefits.
After four years, only 25 per cent of these soldiers will be retained and they will go on to serve for a full 15 years in non-officer ranks. The remaining will exit the services with a package between Rs 11 lakh – Rs 12 lakh, but won’t be eligible for pension benefits.
There are reports that the forces will try to give a Class 12 certificate to a Class 10 student who joins as an Agniveer, but there is little clarity on that front so far.
The new policy has drawn criticism and questions from several quarters, including a section of veterans. Critics have been argued that a four-year tenure will hit fighting spirit in the ranks and can also make them risk-averse.
Among the veterans, Major General BS Dhanoa (retired) tweeted, “Two serious recommendations to the just announced recruitment policy for the armed forces; a. Increase the service period of new recruits to a min of seven years b. Make the retention of those keen to serve longer at least 50 percent.”
Senior Army officer Major General Yash Mor urged that the armed forces should not be looked at from an economic point of of view. “Military life and career can’t be evaluated from money saved to the exchequer,” he tweeted.
On the government’s side, Union Minister and former Army chief General VK Singh, when asked about the scheme, said that he does not have much information on this but added that a picture will not be clear till the scheme is implemented.
With inputs from NDTV