Ever since the Government of India introduced the Agneepath Scheme on 14 May 2022, there has been a furore in the country. It has taken the form of widespread protests. Especially the states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh saw roadblocks, street protests, Rail-roko agitations, and whatnot. West Bengal also witnessed its share of disturbances.
The frustrated jobless Young generation spends their valuable time on social media. Some of them are interested in this Scheme, and others oppose it. Why did a strategy promising employment in the Armed Forces of India face such a backlash? Was it the factor of job certainty after the cooling period of 4 years, or did it hurt the sentiments of the country’s already unemployed and frustrated youth? Did the Agneepath Scheme affect mental health among youth? In the following section, we will find answers to these questions.
What is the Agneepath Scheme?
The Agneepath Scheme targets Indian youth between the age bracket is 17.5 years and 25 years. It allows them to become a part of the Armed Forces of India in either of the three units – Army, Navy, or Air Force. The tenure of the service will be four years. There is a plan to recruit approximately 50,000 soldiers through this Scheme each year. This Scheme is valid for residents of India and Nepal.
The candidates selected under the Agneepath Scheme will be called Agneeveers. The recruitment under the Agneepath Scheme will only be for cadres below officer ranks and not for the position of commissioned officers.
The Agneeveers will start with a monthly salary of INR 30,000, and at the end of the 4th year, it will rise to INR 40,000. Over and above, the Scheme comes with a life cover of INR 48 lakh. If an Agniveer dies, their family will get compensation of INR 1 crore along with the salary for their unserved period. When the 4-year term ends, there will be a package for a golden handshake. The retired Agniveer will be paid a sum of INR 11.7 lakh as a one-time compensation under the ‘Seva Nidhi Package’, which will be tax-free.
The objective of the Agneepath Scheme
The Government of India introduced the Agneepath Scheme to motivate its youth to serve the nation by joining its armed forces. The Scheme provides an opportunity for incumbent candidates who desire to serve the country but cannot do it because of the existing recruitment system.
Agneepath Scheme – Backlash
The Agneepath Scheme saw an unexpected backlash after its launch. Thousands of youth in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan hit the roads. There were widespread violent protests against the Scheme. The protests manifested through roadblocks and rail-roko incidents, inconveniencing crores of other people who had nothing to do with the Scheme.
The opposition parties jumped at this and started raising their concerns. Some addressed this Scheme as a short-term and informal measure for a matter as serious as national security. Some opposition leaders felt that by introducing this Scheme, our armed forces’ “operational effectiveness” would decrease.
The Job Certainty Factor in Agneepath Scheme
The ordinary people who opposed the Scheme had an issue with the lack of job certainty, and they felt it was a temporary measure lasting for four years. “Where shall I go after four years when I am still a young man?” was the question on the minds of several candidates.
The Agneepath Scheme clearly states the following:
- The period of the contract is four years.
- At the end of the contract period, the armed forces will retain 25% of the Agniveers and lay off the remaining 75% with a golden handshake.
The points listed here became the root cause of concern for the protestors. The Scheme offers no long-term benefits to 75% of retired Agniveers.
The traditional method for recruitment in the armed forces entitles the employees to compensation as per the Government scale, pension, and other retirement benefits. Even if a soldier seeks voluntary retirement after 15 years of service, he gets assistance. These benefits lend stability to many families compared to the Agneepath Scheme, where the road ends after four years. While serving, the magnifiers can take up higher education from IGNOU if willing. In this way, they will get a degree while helping.
Post their tenure of 4 years, if they do not make it in the 25 % retained, the magnifiers will get reservations in PSU’s and paramilitary forces like CISF, SSB, BSF, CRPF, ITBP etc., post their tenure in the troops. Nonetheless, the experience certificate will be beneficial to secure a job elsewhere. They will still be in the prime of their youth and able to pick up jobs and utilise the lump sum amounts paid to them at the end of their tenure.
Mental Health Among Youth – Its Importance With Relation to the Agneepath Scheme
It is no secret that India is a young country, with the average age of the population at 35 years. The scope of meaningful livelihood is very limited in our country, and even if available, it mainly centres around the big cities. The future seems uncertain to the majority, and they aspire to stand independently and contribute to their family income.
The pandemic in 2020 only worsened matters. Loss of jobs and income became a household issue, and many others lost their earning sources and became jobless.
This period took a heavy toll on the mental health of the youth of our country. Mental frustration grew among people as they could see the future became bleak. Shortly after the pandemic subsided, the government announced the Agneepath Scheme. The segment of people preparing for the armed forces entrance examination found themselves in the lurch. If recruitment is going to happen through the Agneepath Scheme, there is no future for them.
The already jeopardised mental health of the youth could not take it any longer and hit the roads, knowing fully well that damaging government property will not go unpunished. But then, their anguished hearts ruled over their heads.
The Agneepath Scheme has been an eye-opener for all of us. On the one hand, there is no doubt that the government’s intentions were benign, and the Scheme has advantages. With some prominent industry leaders already announcing placements in their companies, there are definite hopes for the Agneeveers after their contract ends.
The frustrated young generation needs to take care of bruised morale. Consider United We Care to always be at your service. The people in power need to hear their grievances patiently. Otherwise, the government may find itself caught in a fix and trim some proposed benefits of the Scheme.
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