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Agnipath: IGNOU To Start Bachelor Degree For Agnipath Soldiers With 50% Credits For In-Service Training

Soldiers will be recruited for four years under Agnipath policy, out of whom only 25% would be retained for full service and the rest would be let go.

Indian Army personnel on Rajpath on 26 January 2022
Indian Army personnel on Rajpath on 26 January 2022 PIB

The Indian armed forces will sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Indira Gandhi National Open Unviersity (IGNOU) under which it would launch a special three-year skill-based bachelor degree programme for soldiers leaving the military under the Agnipath scheme. 

The degree will recognise the skill training received by them during their military tenure for 50 per cent of the course's credits. The degree will be recognised both in India and abroad for employment and education. 

The Centre on Tuesday unveiled the Agnipath policy for the recruitment of soldiers in the armed forces, under which soldiers would be recruited for a four-year period, after which only 25 per cent would be retained for full service and the rest would be let go. The soldiers let go will not have any pension or other lifelong benefits. 

A senior Ministry of Education official said, "The degree programme will recognise in-service training received by Agnivirs [soldiers under Agnipath policy] 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."

"The remaining 50 per cent credits will come from a basket of courses that cover a wide variety of subjects like languages, Economics, History, Political Science, Public Administration, Sociology, Mathematics, Education, Commerce, Tourism, Vocational Studies, Agriculture, Jyotish, and ability enhancement courses on Environmental Studies and English Communication Skills."

The programme is aligned with the norms of University Grants Commission (UGC), the National Credit Framework and National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF) as mandated under the new National Education Policy (NEP). The framework of the programme has been duly recognised by concerned regulatory bodies — All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), National Council for Vocational Education and Training (NCVET), and UGC.

The official added, "It also has provisions for multiple exit points — undergraduate certificate on successful completion of first year courses, undergraduate diploma on successful completion of first and second year courses and degree on completion of all the courses in three-year timeframe.

"The degree will be awarded by IGNOU as per UGC nomenclature —BA, BCom, BA (Vocational), BA (Tourism Management)— and will be recognised both in India and abroad for employment and education."

While the government and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have hailed hte policy, military veterans, independent experts, and defence aspirants have criticised the policy for a range of reasons. 

Aspirants have said Agnipath takes away job security as it's a contractual four-year job with no pension or lifelong benefits. Veterans have said the idea that soldiers leaving the forces after four years would find jobs in the private sector is unrealistic. It has also been said that the release of combat-trained unemployed people into the society would militarise it. 

Violence erupted in Bihar over the Agnipath scheme on Wednesday. Protesters in Muzaffarpur took to streets and vandalised public property amid report of arson, whereas they blocked railway tracks and pelted stones at a train in Buxar district, according to an ABP News report. 

(With PTI inputs)

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