Indian Army review recommends significant changes to Agnipath scheme: Reports

NDA allies JDU and LJP have voiced apprehensions, prompting the government to reassess the scheme

Aspirants protesting against the short-term Army recruitment Agnipath scheme (photo: NH archives)
Aspirants protesting against the short-term Army recruitment Agnipath scheme (photo: NH archives)

NH Digital

The Indian Army has proposed several key modifications to the Agnipath scheme to enhance its effectiveness and address emerging concerns. According to a Financial Express news report, the Army has notably suggested increasing the proportion of Agniveers transitioning to regular service from 25 per cent to 60-70 per cent.

The Agnipath scheme, initially launched to reduce the pension burden and encourage youth recruitment, has faced scrutiny following the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

National Democratic Alliance (NDA) allies Janata Dal (United) and Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas) voiced their apprehensions, prompting the government to reassess the scheme. The Indian Army's review aims to ensure the smooth integration of Agniveers while maintaining operational efficiency.

Sources within the defence and security establishment have disclosed that the utility of the Agnipath scheme is under evaluation by both the armed forces and the defence ministry. Among the recommendations, the Army has proposed extending the service period for Agniveers from four years to seven or eight years.

Additionally, they advocate raising the entry age for technical roles to 23 years. Other suggestions include providing ex-gratia for disabilities incurred during training, entrusting exit management to a professional agency, and ensuring subsistence allowances for families of Agniveers who die in combat. 

The necessity for these improvements stems from concerns about the adequacy of training and expertise among new recruits. There is a significant risk of a personnel shortage below officer rank if Agnipath recruitment halts, which could take over a decade to rectify.

The Indian Army believes that refining the scheme will expedite the recruitment process, enhance training comprehensiveness, and cultivate a youthful force profile without compromising operational readiness or inflating the pension bill.

 The news report said, “Experience issues can be mitigated with slight adjustments. Under the previous recruitment system, personnel retired at 35, while those promoted to Subedar Major retired at 52, equipped with extensive operational skills and training.”

The proposed changes aim to ensure that Agniveers acquire comparable levels of experience and expertise. The Indian Army's proposed revisions to the Agnipath scheme point to better integration and training for Agniveers, addressing key concerns to maintain the operational effectiveness of the armed forces.

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