By Vikas Gupta
Defence News of India, 15 Jun 22
In what the government has called a “transformative reform”, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) on Tuesday announced a recruitment program – named “Agnipath Pravesh Yojana– which she says will lower the average age of the armed forces from four to five years.
This will be done by recruiting and inducting young men, referred to in filmi style as Mohawkfor four years of service in the army.
As much as 46,000 Mohawk are to be recruited this year, with a similar number likely each subsequent year. This represents a total of 1,84,000 recruits in four years before the first group of Agniveers entered the retirement zone.
From each batch of Mohawk, the government will retain the best. Up to 25% of the annual contribution, i.e. 11,500 people selected Mohawkwill be chosen to remain in service.
“The dividends of short military service to the nation, society and the youth of the nation are immense. This includes instilling patriotism, teamwork, improved physical fitness, rooted loyalty to the country and the availability of trained personnel to enhance national security in times of external threats, internal threats and natural disasters,” the Department of Defense said.
The opposition, however, slammed Agnipath as a device to kick unemployment can down the road.
Congress Party Chief Spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala said: “What jobs will there be for the tens of thousands of young people who will be sacked every year? The government cannot provide jobs for millions of able-bodied young people today. Retired Mohawks, trained in the use of weapons and without a job in sight, there will be problems of public order, perhaps even contributing to armed private militias.
However, some retired senior officers say there is no choice but to switch to a short-term labor model, which will reduce personnel costs and leave more money for equipment.
The former army commander, Lieutenant General HS Panag, points out: “At the start of the Second World War, the Indian army had only 200,000 men. During the war it accumulated up to 2.5 million soldiers and in 1946 was demobilized to a strength of only 300,000 soldiers. This shows that it is possible to train soldiers for much shorter periods of time than we currently do and to expand and reduce the size of the army according to our needs and budgets.
In their first year, Mohawk will receive a personalized package of Rs 30,000 per month, gradually increasing each year to reach Rs 40,000 in the fourth year. In addition, they will receive risk and hardship allowances on an equal basis with the three services.
Personalized plan (monthly)
In hand (70%)
Contribution to Agnitate Corpus Fund (30%)
Contribution to corpus fund by GoI
All figures in Rs (Monthly contribution)
Total contribution in Agnitate Corpus Fund after four years
Rs 5.02 Lakh
Rs 5.02 Lakh
Exit (after 4 years)
Rs 11.71 Lakh as SevaNidhi package
(Including, accrued interest on the above amount according to applicable interest rates would also be paid)
Throughout their service, 30% of their salary – a sum of 9,000 rupees per month in the first year, gradually increasing to 12,000 rupees per month in the fourth year – will be paid into a so-called “Agnitate corpus fund”.
At the end of the fourth year, each Agnitate allegedly deposited Rs 5.02 lakhs in the corpus fund. The government will match this contribution. From this, the Mohawk would receive an approximate amount of Rs 11.71 lakhs as a “Seva Nidhi package”, supplemented by the interest that would have accrued on this saving.
“Seva Nidhi will be exempt from income tax. There is no right to retirement bonuses and benefits. Mohawk will receive non-contributory life insurance cover of Rs 48 lakh for the duration of their enlistment period in the Indian Armed Forces,” a statement from the Ministry of Defense said on Tuesday.
“The program will lead to a much younger and technically expert fighting force by ensuring a good balance between young and experienced personnel in the armed forces,” the Ministry of Defense said.