Changes in Agnipath scheme likely; Govt. eyes making Indian Armed Forces recruitment more lucrative

A group of secretaries from 10 significant ministries have been tasked to review the Agnipath scheme of recruitment for the Armed Forces. They have been told to suggest ways to make the recruitment scheme more lucrative for youngsters.

The panel of secretaries will give a final presentation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the same after he returns from the G7 Summit being held in Italy, The Economic Times reported citing sources aware of the matter. 

The G7 Summit in Italy is being held from June 13 to 15.

“The group of secretaries will prepare the details before June 16 and submit a detailed presentation at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO),” the publication quoted a senior official aware of the matter.

The presentation on possible tweaks in the scheme will likely be given on June 17 or 18, as per the official.

The Prime Minister’s Office will take a final decision on changes in the scheme after getting recommendations and feedback from other stakeholders, including state governments. An official said that the army is also conducting its own internal assessment.

As per the Army’s internal assessment, possible tweaks to the Agnipath scheme include changing the retention percentage of Agniveers (those selected under the Agnipath scheme) from 25 per cent to 60-70 per cent for regular troops and around 75 per cent for technical and specialist soldiers.

Another recommendation included an increase in the training period. Before the announcement of the Agnipath scheme, the training period in the Indian Army was between 37 and 42 weeks, which has now been reduced to 24 weeks, according to a report in The Indian Express.

Why is the Centre reviewing the Agnipath scheme?

Review of the Agnipath scheme is also a part of the NDA’s 100-day agenda.

The issue of Agniveers became a focal point during the recently conducted Lok Sabha elections, especially in states like Haryana and Rajasthan.

Also, the scheme was criticised by the opposition in other states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, considered as traditional recruitment belts for the Indian Armed Forces.

The Opposition, especially the Congress party, criticised the scheme for not guaranteeing job security amid rising economic uncertainty.

Not only opposition, NDA ally Janata Dal (United) also said that the scheme should be reviewed as there was resentment against it.

“We will not be confrontational about this… When the Agnipath scheme was introduced, there was discontent among a large section of the armed forces.

Their families also protested during the elections. So, there is a need to discuss it,” senior JD(U) leader KC Tyagi said ahead of the NDA parliamentary party meeting.

About Agnipath scheme

In 2022, the Centre unveiled the scheme to make the Armed Forces lean and reduce the expenses on defence pension.

As per this recruitment scheme, personnel are recruited in the Army, Navy and the Air Force on a short-term contract of four years.

Of the total annual recruits, only 25 per cent are allowed to continue for another 15 years under permanent commission.