Agnipath myth vs facts: Government reportedly explains scheme amidst uproar
- Violent protests in several states and harsh criticism from many veterans over the newly unveiled Agnipath scheme
- Government unofficially released a 'Myths vs Facts' document today, government sources said
- Most prevalent complaint is that the four-year term is too short, making their future appear uncertain
Amid violent protests in several states and harsh criticism from many veterans over the newly unveiled Agnipath scheme, the government unofficially released a "Myths vs Facts" document today, government sources said, addressing the most immediate concerns raised about the radical recruiting process for the armed forces.
Protesters' most prevalent complaint is that the four-year term is too short, making their future appear uncertain.
The government has stated that people who aspire to become entrepreneurs after serving as Agniveers will be provided with a financial package and a bank lending scheme. Those who want to continue their education will be awarded a 12th class equivalent certificate and a bridging course, while those who desire salaried positions will be given preference in Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) and state police. "Several avenues are also being opened up for them in other sectors," it added.
The document stated that possibilities for youth to serve in the armed forces will rise rather than decrease. "In the coming years, recruitment of Agniveers will be around triple of the current recruitment in armed forces," it stated.
Another fear expressed by veteran army officers is that Agnipath will have an impact on regimental camaraderie. The government has made a statement, saying, "No change is being done to the regimental system. In fact, it will be further accentuated because the best of Agniveers will be selected, further boosting the cohesiveness of the unit."
Concerning whether this strategy will undermine the efficacy of the armed forces, the administration has dismissed it as a myth and stressed that the number of Agniveers recruited in the first year would account for barely 3% of the armed forces.
"Additionally, the performance of the Agniveers will be tested before re-induction in the army after four years. Hence, Army will get tested and tried personnel for supervisory ranks," it read.
It noted that such a short-term enlisting system is common in most nations, "and hence is already tested out and considered best practice for a youthful and agile army."
In response to concerns that 21-year-olds are immature and untrustworthy for the army, it stated that most armies throughout the world rely on their youth.
It was stated that there will never be more young people than experienced individuals. "The present scheme will only bring about a right mix of 50%-50%, slowly in a very long run, of youngsters and experienced supervisory ranks," it stated.
Many have voiced the concern that 21-year-olds with professional guns training who do not have a job could be drawn into terrorist groups or "anti-national" forces; the government has called this "an insult to the ethos and values of the Indian armed forces."
Young people who have worn the uniform for four years will be dedicated to the country for the rest of their life, it added, noting that while thousands of people retire from the armed forces with talents, "there have been no instances" of their entering anti-national forces.
Many previous officers were outraged that they had not been contacted prior to the announcement of this major change. The administration did not explicitly respond to the claim, but did state that "extensive consultations" with serving armed services personnel had taken place over the last two years.
"The proposal has been framed by the Department of Military Officers staffed by Military officers. The department itself is a creation of this government. Many former officers have recognised the advantages of the scheme and welcomed it," the document read.