The Union Cabinet on Tuesday approved the ‘Agnipath’ recruitment scheme for Indian youth to serve in the armed forces.
Soldiers recruited under the new scheme will be inducted into the armed forces as ‘Agniveers’, a new rank as opposed to sepoys who join the Indian Army under the legacy recruitment model.
The ‘Agnipath’ model will foresee the recruitment of personnel below officer rank (PBOR) in army, air force and navy for four years, including six months of training.
“The Cabinet Committee on Security has taken a historic decision today to approve the transformative scheme of ‘Agnipath’. Under this, Indian youth would be granted an opportunity to get inducted into the armed forces,” Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said during a media briefing on Tuesday.
However, retired Armymen expressed different opinions about the scheme and the short-term involvement of the youth in the armed forces.
Talking to IANS, Major General (retd) P.K. Saighal said that the Indian Army is one of the best and most powerful forces in the world.
However, he felt that recruiting youth through the Agnipath model for three to four years is not right for the forces.
“A person takes around six to seven years to become a complete soldier. But these youth will be out of job before that,” Saighal said.
Terming those who will be selected through this process as ‘tourists’, Saighal said they will get just around six months if training which is not enough to understand the essence of Indian Army.
“Soldiers risk their lives to serve the country, but why will they take such risks and show courage and patriotism when they know that they will be in the job for just four years,” he asked.
Saighal added that if they have to work for four years, the last year of their service will be spent searching for another job.
“In such a situation, they won’t be able to show dedication towards their work,” Saighal said.
Speaking to IANS, Major General (retd) Ashok Kumar said, “The Agnipath scheme is important and useful for both the armed forces and the nation. The forces will get younger candidates, bringing down the average age of the units from around 32 years at present to 26 years.”
“Those selected for enrolment in the armed forces as regular cadre will have better skills to operate weapons, lead the units and enhance the capabilities for future wars,” Kumar told IANS.