The Opportunities That Lie Ahead For Agniveers

While a certain section of army aspirants is disheartened, the scheme is a win-win for all; corporate houses are ready to open their arms

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Recently, industrialist Anand Mahindra took to Twitter to announce that Agniveers are welcome in Mahindra group once they complete their tenure. The announcement came in the backdrop of protests held by army aspirants across the country against the Agnipath scheme rolled out by government.

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On 14th June, 2022, India came up with a new recruitment scheme for troops in the three services of armed forces: Army, Navy and Air Force. Under the scheme, around 46,000 youth aged between 17.5 and 23 years will be recruited for a four-year period. They will be called Agniveers.

While the youth of the country is protesting against the scheme, the government has justified it saying it will help in reducing the ballooning salary and pension bill of the government along with freeing up funds for modernizing the army. As of now a substantial part of the defence budget goes towards pensions. Concerns such as job insecurity and unemployment after the stipulated tenure is ruling the minds of the youth of the country. However, a closer look at the scheme reveals that this is not the case. The scheme offer benefits during as well as after the completion of tenure of Agniveers.

During their tenure, Agniveers will be paid decently and will also be entitled to a lumpsum package at the end of tenure. Under the scheme, 30 per cent of Agniveers' monthly salary will compulsorily go towards creating Agniveer corpus fund. The government will also make a matching contribution. So, after the necessary deduction their monthly salary in the first year will amount to INR 21,000, followed by INR 23,100 in second, and 25,580 and 28,000 in the third and fourth year, respectively.

After the completion of tenure, Agniveeers can apply to continue in the armed forces. But there's a catch: only 25 per cent of them will be absorbed. The rest will be handed a lumpsum amount of approximately INR 11.71 lakh as Seva Nidhi Package. Agniveers will be given a distinct rank different from any other existing rank. Not only would they sport distinctive insignia on their uniform, they can be posted to any regiment and rank during the four-year period.

After 4 years: Plethora of opportunities

According to some army veterans, the fear of the youth seems unjustified and they are being misled as there will be several opportunities after their stint is over and will not remain unemployed. A look at what Agniveers can explore after completion of their stint.

Starting a business venture

At the end of the four-year stint, Agniveers will be handed over INR 11.71 lakh as a Seva Nidhi package. Agniveers can further avail loans from banks on a priority basis and start a venture.

Joining paramilitary/state police force

The government has reserved 10 per cent of vacancies in Central Armed Police Forces and Assam Rifles for Agniveer retirees. Further there will be a three-year age relaxation for them beyond the prescribed upper age limit. There will also be vacancies reserved in the ministry of defence and Indian Coast Guard with age relaxations. The various state governments, too, have announced that Agniveers will be preferred in filling vacancies in the state police forces.

Continue education

For Agniveers, National Institute of Open Schooling is instituting a programme in collaboration with the defence authorities to develop customized courses to enable them to obtain Class 12 certificate. There will also be provision of customized degree courses by IGNOU for civil career for Agniveers.

Upskill themselves

Agniveers can get themselves trained by the ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship and can avail Skill India Certificate for several job opportunities after the completion of their job tenure.

Becoming a teacher

Agniveers can also don the hat of a physical education teacher afterwards. Amid protests, Union minister Anurag Thakur announced that Agniveers will be considered for appointment as physical education teachers. For this, special training would be provided to them.

Opportunities in other corporate houses

After Anand Mahindra, other corporate leaders such as RPG Group's Harsh Goenka and Biocon's Kiran Mazumdar Shaw also welcomed Agniveers. On social platform Twitter, Goenka wrote the RPG Group too welcomes the opportunity to employ the Agniveers.

Biocon's Shaw also welcomed Agniveers

Tata Sons chairman N. Chandrasekaran has also come out in support of the scheme. In a statement he said, "Agnipath is not just a great opportunity for the youth to serve the nation's defence forces but it will also make available a very disciplined and trained youth for the industry, including the Tata group. We at the Tata group recognize the potential of the Agniveers and welcome the opportunity this represents."

Model followed around the world

India isn't the only nation to follow the idea of recruiting soldiers in the armed forces for a shorter duration. In fact, a number of countries around the world have adopted this model.

The US

The US recruits soldiers for a period of four years, followed by another four-year reserve duty period where they can be recalled if the need arises. Soldiers are eligible for pensions after 20 years of service. Those opting out earlier are eligible for certain allowances and perks.

During wars like World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, the US, however, imposed conscription and made it mandatory for all men to join the military.

China

Conscription is followed for all males above the age of 18 in China. The duration of service for conscripts is three years in the army and four years in the navy and the air force. Volunteers can serve for eight years.

Russia

A hybrid model of conscription and contract is followed to recruit soldiers into the armed forces in Russia. Conscripts have a term of one year and are then put into reserve.

Israel

The country has a conscription model, even for women, which has been in force since 1948. While males have to serve for a duration of 30 months, the tenure is 24 months for women.