Recruitment model for soldiers to create an ‘Agniveer’ rank

Updated on Jun 14, 2022 09:48 AM IST

The government is likely to announce the new recruitment policy on Tuesday, the officials said, setting the stage for the army to restart its recruitment process after a two-year freeze triggered by Covid-19 restrictions. The three service chiefs are expected to share details of the new policy with the media.

The soldiers recruited under Agnipath will be released from service after four years, though the new system will have a provision for retaining around 25% of them after another round of screening.(AP Photo) PREMIUM
The soldiers recruited under Agnipath will be released from service after four years, though the new system will have a provision for retaining around 25% of them after another round of screening.(AP Photo)
By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Soldiers recruited in the defence services under a new short-term recruitment policy called Agnipath (also referred to as tour of duty in the past) will be inducted in the Indian armed forces as Agniveers, a new distinct rank, as opposed to sepoys who joined the army under the legacy recruitment model, officials familiar with the matter said on Monday.

“The Agniveers will form a distinct rank in the three services, and will also wear distinctive insignia as part of their uniform,” said one of the officials cited above.

The government is likely to announce the new recruitment policy on Tuesday, the officials said, setting the stage for the army to restart its recruitment process after a two-year freeze triggered by Covid-19 restrictions. The three service chiefs are expected to share details of the new policy with the media.

The Agnipath model envisages the recruitment of personnel below officer (PBOR) rank in the army, air force and navy for four years, including six months of training, the officials said. The proposed model has been at the centre of an intense debate in military circles, with several veterans questioning the concept and arguing that disadvantages may outweigh the advantages.

The soldiers recruited under Agnipath will be released from service after four years, though the new system will have a provision for retaining around 25% of them after another round of screening. They are likely to be given a severance package of over 11 lakh, though they will not be entitled to pension. However, the ones retained will serve the defence services for another 15 years, and will be entitled to pension.

The recruits under Agnipath will draw a salary of 30,000- 40,000 per month, the officials said, adding that they will also get a non-contributory insurance cover of 48 lakh. They will also get an ‘Agniveer skill certificate’ that will help them find jobs after release from service, the officials said.

The new model will result not only in bringing down the pension bill but will also lead to lowering the age profile of soldiers in units, the officials said. Soldiers recruited through the normal process serve for about 20 years before they retire in their late 30s with a pension.

Recruitment rallies under the new model are expected to be conducted across the country from August to December, as reported by Hindustan Times on May 28. Around 45,000 young men, in the age group of 17-and-a-half and 21 years, are likely to be recruited under the first phase of recruitment under Agnipath.

While the exact details of the new recruitment model are not known, the officials said it is likely to do away with specific class composition in certain regiments and create an All-India All-Class (AIAC) system.

The army was beginning to feel the strain of a manpower crunch stemming from the Covid-induced freeze on recruitment. It is currently short of around 125,000 soldiers in the PBOR cadre, with the deficiency growing at the rate of more than 5,000 men every month. It has an authorised strength of 1.2 million soldiers.

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