New MoD short-service model recruits ‘Agniveers’ for four-year tenures


In what the government has billed as ‘transformative reform’, the (MoD) announced on Tuesday a recruitment scheme – named Agnipath Pravesh Yojana – which it expects will lower the average age of the Armed Forces by four/five years.

This will be done by recruiting and inducting young men, referred to in filmi-style as Agniveers, for four-year tenures of service in the .

As many as 46,000 Agniveers are to be recruited this year, with presumably a similar number in each following year. That adds up to a total of 184,000 recruits in four years before the first batch of Agniveers enters the retirement zone.

From each batch of Agniveers, the government will retain the best. Up to 25 per cent of each year’s intake, or 11,500 selected Agniveers, will be chosen to remain in service.

“The dividends of a short service to the nation, society and the youth of the nation are immense. This includes inculcation of patriotism, teamwork, enhancement of physical fitness, ingrained loyalty for the country, and availability of trained personnel to boost national security in times of external/internal threats and natural disasters,” said the MoD.

The Opposition, however, has slammed Agnipath as a device to kick the unemployment can down the road.

Party’s Chief Spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said: “What employment will there be for the tens of thousands of youths who will be discharged from service each year? The government cannot provide jobs to millions of able-bodied youths today. Retired Agniveers, trained in using weapons and with no employment in sight, will be a law and order problem, perhaps even contributing to armed private militia.”

However, some senior retired officers say there is no choice but to switch to a short-service manpower model, which will lower personnel costs and leave more money for equipment.


Former Army commander Lieutenant General H S Panag points out: “At the start of World War 2, the Indian Army was just 200,000-strong. During the war, it built up to 2.5 million soldiers, and by 1946 was demobilised to a strength of just 300,000 soldiers. This shows it is possible to train soldiers for much shorter periods than we currently do and to expand and contract the size of the Army according to our requirements and budgets.”

Financing Agnipath

In their first year, Agniveers will be paid a customised package of Rs 30,000 per month, rising incrementally each year to Rs 40,000 in the fourth year. In addition, they will be paid risk and hardship allowances on a par with the three services.

Throughout their service, 30 per cent of their salary – a sum of Rs 9,000 per month in the first year, rising incrementally to Rs 12,000 per month in the fourth year – will be paid into a so-called Agniveer corpus fund.

By the end of the fourth year, each Agniveer would have deposited Rs 5.02 lakh into the corpus fund. The government will match that contribution. From this, the Agniveers would be paid an approximate amount of Rs 11.71 lakh as Seva Nidhi package, supplemented by the interest that would have accrued on this saving.

“The Seva Nidhi will be exempt from income tax. There shall be no entitlement to gratuity and pensionary benefits. Agniveers will be provided non-contributory life insurance cover of Rs 48 lakh for the duration of their engagement period in the Indian Armed Forces,” stated a MoD release on Tuesday.

“The scheme will lead to a much more youthful and technically adept war-fighting force by ensuring a fine balance between youthful and experienced personnel in the Armed Forces,” stated the MoD.


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