The 'Agnipath' scheme was unveiled by Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday.
The Centre on Tuesday unveiled the 'Agnipath' scheme, a radical recruitment plan for armed forces aimed at cutting down salary and pension bills. But after the announcement, voices are being raised about the scheme.
Here are five points on 'Agnipath' controversy:
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The biggest concern is about finding another job. The 'Agnipath' scheme opens the way for recruitment of about 45,000 soldiers into Army, Navy and Air Force in the first year but on a short-term contract of four years. After the completion of the contract, 25 per cent of them will be retained and the rest will leave the forces. "Merely four years of service will mean we will have to study for others jobs after that, and be left behind others our age," Gulshan Kumar, one of the aspirants, told NDTV in Patna, Bihar. The Union Home Ministry sought to allay those fears by announcing on Wednesday that these soldiers will be given priority in recruitment to central armed police forces and Assam Rifles.
A linked issue stemming from re-employment is whether the 'Agniveers' - the soldiers joining the armed forces under the Agnipath scheme - will stay motivated. Those hired under the 'Agnipath' scheme will be given a one-time lumpsum of a little more than Rs 11 lakh when they end their four-year tenure. However, they do not receive any pension benefits. For most, seeking a second job is essential to support themselves and their families.
Then there are also concerns that the forces will lose experienced soldiers. The jawans joining the Army, Navy and Air Force will be given technical training so that they are able to support the ongoing operations. But these men and women will leave after four years, which could create a void. Air Chief Marshal RKS Badhauria (Retd), however, said these concerns are unfounded. "These people will not be utilised for the highly technical job, which requires another level of training. The 'Agniveers' will support the existing staff," he told NDTV.
Defence analyst Major General Yash Mor (Retd) was more critical of the scheme, calling it a "play of words". He said that there is nothing for those young men who are training for years to get into armed forces. "In this country, IPL rights are sold for huge sum but we are unable to pay our soldiers? Really, we need some soul searching," he said on NDTV's Left, Right And Centre. He also pointed out that hiring people on short-term contract is not good, as 75 per cent of them will be left in a lurch after the completion of four-year period.
Some aspirants too did not find any advantage in the Agnipath scheme, saying that it won't have "positive effects" on those who plan to join the forces.