The Centre and a number of state governments have announced a number of incentives for soldiers recruited under the Agnipath scheme, dubbed Agniveers, and released after four years of service amid nationwide protests against the scheme.
Protesters are saying that the scheme, under which soldiers would be recruited for four years and then only 25 per cent would be retained for permanent service and the rest would be let go, takes away job security and makes future uncertain after four years of service.
To address this, the Centre and some state governments have announced a number of measures, which have ranged from reservation in vacancies to assurance they would get preferred in state jobs.
Here we list the incentives by various Union ministries and state governments for Agniveers.
Reservation in Defence Ministry
At the time of announcement of the Agnipath scheme, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had said that several ministries, public sector undertakings (PSUs), and state governments had conveyed that they would take Agniveers after they are released from service.
Singh on Saturday said 10 per cent of vacancies in Defence Ministry would be reserved for Agniveers.
"The 10 per cent reservation will be implemented in the Indian Coast Guard and defence civilian posts, and all the 16 Defence Public Sector Undertakings. This reservation would be in addition to existing reservation for ex-servicemen," said Singh's office in a tweet.
Reservation in Union Home Ministry
The Union Home Ministry announced that 10 per cent jobs would be reserved for Agniveers in Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) and Assam Rifles. It also announced age-relaxations.
Union Home Minister's Office said, "The MHA [Ministry of Home Affairs] also decides to give three years age relaxation beyond the prescribed upper age limit to Agniveers for recruitment in CAPFs and Assam Rifles. Further, for the first batch of Agniveer, the age relaxation will be for five years beyond the prescribed upper age limit."
Union Sports & Youth Affairs Ministry
Union Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Anurag Thakur has said his ministry is "seriously" considering to come up with a short-term course for Agniveers to enable them get job of trainers in sports sector or physical teachers in schools and colleges.
He said, "When they are so fit that they can join the Army, many of them would be associated with sports as well. We can offer them some five-six month course that can make them eligible for physical training teachers or trainers in sports. We are thinking about it very seriously."
Union Civil Aviation Ministry
Listing the kind of jobs the Union Civil Aviation Ministry would offer to Agniveers, it said, "Civil Aviation is looking forward to inducting the highly skilled, disciplined and motivated Agniveers into its various services and give them wings to fly."
The jobs it listed for Agniveers are:
- Air traffic services
- Aircraft technicians
- Maintainance, repair, overhail of aircraft
- Meteorological, air accident investigator services
- Flight safety, administrative, IT, communications
- Logistics, supply chain management
Union Shipping Ministry's scheme for Agniveers
The Union Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways (MoPSW) on Saturday announced six service avenues would be opened for Agniveers.
It will enable Agniveers to acquire necessary training, with naval experience and professional certification to join the remunerative merchant navy across the world, according to the ministry.
The ministry said, "These schemes for Agniveers include transition from Ratings in Indian Navy to Certified Ratings in Merchant Navy, transition from Electrical Ratings in Indian Navy to Certified Electro Technical Ratings in Merchant Navy, transition from Ratings in Indian Navy to Certified Class IV-NCV CoC holder in Merchant Navy, transition from Electrical Ratings in Indian Navy to Certified Electro Technical Officers in Merchant Navy and transition from Cook in Indian Navy to Certified Cook Merchant Navy."
Union Finance Ministry exploring avenues for Agniveers
The Union Finance Ministry has held a meeting with heads of public sector banks and financial institutions to explore employment opportunities for 'Agniveers' in their respective organisations.
It was decided in the meeting that public sector banks, insurance companies, and financial institutions would explore employment opportunities for Agniveers in suitable capacities based on their educational qualifications and skills through suitable relaxations, according to The Tribune newspaper.
Educational, skill development incentives
The idea behind Agnipath is that the soldier would be skilled enough by the time they leave their service to be able to find employment in the civilian world. For this, a number of announcements have been made, ranging from in-service upskilling to distance learning courses.
India Today reported, "The Department of School Education and Literacy through its autonomous institution, the National Institute of Open Schooling, has announced that it will institute a special programme in consultation with the defence authorities to enable those Agniveers who are 10th pass, to further their education and obtain a 12th pass certificate by developing customised courses that are not only current but very relevant to their area of service."
Moreover, the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) will sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the armed forces to offer Agniveers a special three-year skill-based bachelor degree programme.
A senior Ministry of Education official said, "The degree programme will recognise in-service training received by Agniveeres as credits for graduation and will open up opportunities for them to pursue civilian careers of their choice. Under the programme, 50 per cent of the credits required for a graduate degree will come from skill training — both technical and non-technical, received by the Agnivirs [during their service]."
The Union Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) will also be involved with Agniveers, which will provide them with certification of skills they would learn during their service. The idea is that this certification would help Agniveers get a job in the civilian world.
It said, "All organisations of Skill India —Directorate General of Training (DGT), National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), various Sector Skill Councils, entrepreneurship institutes NIESBUD and IIE, as well as skills regulator NCVET— will be connected with this exercise to ensure that Agniveers get the required skill certifications related to their job roles while in service."
States have also announced incentives
Besides the Union ministries listed above, a number of state governments have also made announcements for Agniveers released after four years of military service.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has said the UP government will give priority to Agniveers in recruitment to police and related services in the state.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has said Madhya Pradesh government would prioritise Agniveers in state police recruitment.
ANI quoted Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami as saying that Agniveers released after four years would be inducted into Uttarakhand Police, Disaster management, and Char Dham management in the state.
Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has said every Agniveer who is permanent resident of the state would be absorbed into state police upon their release from the military.
The Times of India quoted him as saying, "We have decided that anyone who is a permanent resident of Assam and exits the Agnipath scheme at the end of his term will be recruited in Assam Police. He will be experienced with army training.
"At the end of four years, 25 per cent of them will be retained by Army and so there will be around 500 youths who would come out. Every year we recruit around 3,000 youths in the police and therefore we will happily accommodate all the people who come out as Agniveers in our state police."
While not giving specifics, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar assured Agniveers would be prioritised in state jobs.
ANI quoted him as saying, "On behalf of Haryana Government, I assure everyone that the 75 percent of agniveers [released after four years of service] will be given priority in government jobs, if they want one. Similar schemes of giving them priority will also be made in other jobs too."
State Home Minister Araga Jnanendra has said the state government will soon come up with a policy to reserve police posts for Agniveers.
The New Indian Express quoted him as saying, "Now we have reservation for ex-servicemen in the police and fire services departments. Apart from that, we will give more reservation as youngsters between 26 and 27 years will have got military training."
(With PTI inputs)