No respect for Indian army, says Congress as party oposses GoI’s new recruitment scheme Agnipath

Modi addressing a gathering of Indian army personnel in Nowshera sector of JK on Nov, 4, 2021. [File Photo]

‘Narendra Modi ji don’t crush the dreams of  Indian youth’

New Delhi: On Tuesday, the Government of India introduced a new recruitment scheme called Angnipath for recruiting armed forces personnel for four years.

Under this scheme, the GoI said, both men and women between the ages of 17.5 and 21 can be selected for the same.

The armed forces personnel recruited under the scheme will be called Agniveers who will form a distinct rank in the three services, and will also wear a distinct insignia as part of their uniform.

A total of 46,000 candidates will be recruited this year, the government of India said, adding, based on merit and organisation requirement, 25 per cent of such personnel will be enrolled in regular cadre of the Armed Forces.

On completion of the engagement period of four years, the forces personnel will be paid a one-time ‘SevaNidhi’ package which shall comprise their contribution including accrued interest thereon and matching contribution from the Government equal to the accumulated amount of their contribution including interest.

In the first year, the forces personnel will get Rs 30,000 per month but they will receive only Rs 21,000 as 30 per cent of their remuneration or Rs 9,000 will be their contribution to Agniveer Corpus Fund and the government will contribute the same amount to the corpus fund.

They will receive Rs 33,000 in the second year, Rs 36,500 in the third year and Rs 40,000 in the fourth year. They will get Rs 11.71 lakh as Seva Nidhi Package after four years.

The ‘Seva Nidhi’ will be exempt from Income Tax. There shall be no entitlement to gratuity and pensionary benefits. They will be provided non-contributory Life Insurance Cover of Rs 48 lakh for the duration of their engagement period in the Indian Armed Forces.

During this period of service to the nation, the candidates will be imparted with various military skills and experience, discipline, physical fitness, leadership qualities, courage and patriotism.

The eEnrolment will be based on ‘All India All Class’ basis and the eligible age will be in range from 17.5 to 21 years. The candidates will meet the medical eligibility conditions laid down for enrolment in the armed forces as applicable to respective categories/trades.

Meanwhile, Congress expressed concern over the new recruitment scheme for the forces and urged the government to put it on hold and to conduct consultations over it.

Addressing a press conference at the Congress headquarters, former GoI Minister P Chidambaram called the ‘Agnipath’ scheme ‘a matter of great concern’.

“The Agnipath scheme is controversial, carries multiple risks, subverts the long-standing traditions and ethos of the armed forces and there is no guarantee that the soldiers recruited under the scheme will be better trained and motivated to defend the country,” Chidambaram said.

He said retired servicemen have almost unanimously opposed the scheme. “We believe that many serving officers share the same reservations about the scheme.”

“Our first concern is that the Agnipath soldier will be trained for six months and will serve for another 42 months when 75 per cent of the recruits will be discharged. It appears to us that the scheme makes a mockery of training; inducts into the defence forces an ill-trained and ill-motivated soldier; and discharges a disappointed and unhappy ex-soldier into the society,” he said.

He said the age of recruitment — 17 to 21 years — raises numerous questions. “A large part of our youth will be totally excluded from serving in the Defence forces.”

“The stated objective of savings on the pension bill is a weak argument and has not been established beyond doubt. On the other hand, the short period of training (6 months) and the unusually short period of service (42 months) may have negative consequences on quality, efficiency and effectiveness. We fear that the scheme may turn out to be a case of ‘penny wise and security foolish’,” said the Congress member who has served as both Home and Finance Minister in past.

Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi also urged the government to listen to the voice of unemployed youth, protests erupted in several parts of the country against the new recruitment scheme for the forces.

“No rank, no pension, no direct recruitment for two years, no stable future after four years… No respect for the army,” Rahul Gandhi said in a tweet.

“Listen to the voice of the unemployed youth of the country, don’t test their patience by driving them on ‘Agneepath’, Mr. Prime Minister,” he said.

Party General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi meanwhile said, “The youth preparing for army recruitment have many dreams for serving the country, their families and future. What will the new army recruitment scheme give them? After four years, no job guarantee, no pension facility = no rank, no pension”.

“Narendra Modi ji don’t crush the dreams of youth,” he added.


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