GS Paper – 2 (Polity)

The government on 14 June 2022 unveiled its new Agnipath scheme for recruiting soldiers across the three services. The new defence recruitment reform, which has been cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Security, will come into effect immediately, and the soldiers recruited under the scheme will be called Agniveers.

What is the Agnipath scheme?

  1. 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.
  2. Of the total annual recruits, only 25 per cent will be allowed to continue for another 15 years under permanent commission.
  3. The move will make the permanent force levels much leaner for the over 13-lakh strong armed forces in the country.
  4. This will, in turn, considerably reduce the defence pension bill, which has been a major concern for governments for many years.
  5. The new system is only for personnel below officer ranks (those who do not join the forces as commissioned officers).
  6. Under the Agnipath scheme, aspirants between the ages of 17.5 years and 21 years will be eligible to apply. The recruitment standards will remain the same, and recruitment will be done twice a year through rallies.

Significance of the scheme

  1. 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.
  2. The “efforts are being made that the profile of the Armed Forces should be as youthful as the wider Indian population.” A youthful armed forces will allow them to be easily trained for new technologies.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.