Hours after protests erupted in several parts of the country against the short-term Agnipath scheme for the armed forces, officials sought to allay concerns and circulated a Myth vs Fact document to underline that the new scheme will not only bring in new capabilities but will also open up avenues in the private sector, and help the young men become entrepreneurs with the aid of a financial package.
For those protesting on the streets or watching from the sidelines, the primary concerns and insecurity have to do with the temporary nature of the new scheme — service is only for four years; pension has been removed; and there is no lifelong healthcare benefit for the soldier and his family.
Under the new scheme, around 45,000 to 50,000 soldiers will be recruited annually, and most will leave the service in just four years. Of the total annual recruits, only 25 per cent will be allowed to continue for another 15 years under permanent commission. The move will make the permanent force levels much leaner for the over 13-lakh strong armed forces in the country.
This will, in turn, considerably reduce the defence pension bill, which has been a major concern for governments for many years.