The heat of the Agniveer case will be seen in Parliament, the spark has been smoldering for two years regarding the army recruitment scheme

Ananya Shroff
7 Min Read
The heat of the Agniveer case will be seen in Parliament, the spark has been smoldering for two years regarding the army recruitment scheme


New Delhi: The first session of the 18th Lok Sabha is starting from June 24. It is different from the 17th Lok Sabha in the sense that this time the voice of the opposition will be heard more in the Parliament. Earlier the number of opposition MPs was very less, but now the opposition is strong in terms of numbers. Also, the government is also a coalition one. Even before the Parliament session begins, the opposition as well as BJP's ally JDU in the government have started a new discussion about the changes in Agneepath. The spark regarding the army recruitment scheme Agneepath has been smoldering for two years, but looking at the new equations, it seems that this time its heat will be more in the Parliament.

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It is not that questions started arising suddenly about the Agneepath scheme. Questions have been arising since the day when suddenly one day a press conference was held and it was announced that now all the recruitments in the army under Agneepath will be of Agniveers. This sudden decision was shocking for everyone, even for the army. Former Indian Army Chief General MM Naravane has written about Agneepath in his upcoming book 'Four Stars of Destiny' that this scheme was not only shocking for the army, it was also like a shock for the Air Force and the Navy. General Naravane has written that he had proposed the Tour of Duty Scheme to the Prime Minister in early 2020. It was about recruiting a limited number of soldiers for a short period of time. This proposal was like a short service commission for officers.

PMO brought new scheme
The Prime Minister's Office later came up with a different scheme – Agneepath, in which all recruitments are to be done for four years only. It is not yet clear when General Naravane's book will come out. His book has not yet received the approval of the Ministry of Defense. In the last session of the previous Lok Sabha, the Standing Committee on Defense Affairs of Parliament also made some important recommendations regarding Agniveer. It was recommended that if an Agniveer is martyred, then his family should be given the same help that is given to the family of a soldier when he is martyred. According to the service conditions of Agniveer in the Indian Army, the family gets assistance of about Rs 1 crore including insurance, ex-gratia amount in case of casualties in war. But if a regular soldier is martyred, then his family gets all this financial help as well as pension according to his last salary. Along with this, the facilities of Army canteen, military hospital available to the ex-soldier are also given to the martyr's family.

The heat of directly implementing the Agneepath scheme without a pilot project is also visible inside the army. While regular soldiers get 90 days of leave in a year, Agniveers get only 30 leaves. Along with family commitments, all other needs of Agniveers are the same as regular soldiers. In such a situation, their leaves are becoming a big issue. The service conditions of Agniveers are different from regular soldiers, due to which two categories are being seen inside the army. Its effect is also visible on the daily work. Agniveers are not being made to do night duty as sentry alone and there are many such sensitive duties in which Agniveers are not being deployed. This will create a feeling of separation between Agniveers and regular soldiers. Recruitment of officers in the army is also done in different ways, like regular entry, short service commission. But they are given the option of how they want to join the army. There is no option for Agniveers. All recruitments have to be done in this way.

The question of unilateral commitment
Agniveers are being recruited for four years and a maximum of 25% of them will be given the option of becoming permanent. This does not fit in with the pattern of sacrificing one's life for the name and reputation of the army. Those who understand psychology even a little can tell that when the youth feel that there is a high possibility of them going home after four years, they will not want to take this risk, that too when there is no pension arrangement for their families even after martyrdom. No one can deny that the army is not a normal job, but there is a commitment between the soldier and the country that the soldier will protect the country, even if he has to sacrifice his life and the country will take responsibility of the soldier's family. But the country is not making this commitment with the Agniveers. So will the commitment be fulfilled one-sidedly? There are many such questions which are constantly being raised. Agniveers were also a big issue during the Lok Sabha elections, especially in states like Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal, Uttarakhand from where a large number of youth join the army. Assembly elections are also to be held in Haryana this year. This issue is hot and its heat can be seen soon.

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