The Kargil review committee had recommended measures implemented in the Agnipath program

Since the Department of Defense announced the Agnipath Armed Forces Recruitment Program, the program has met with resistance from a large number of so-called military aspirants and opposition political parties. As usual, Rahul Gandhi has critical the plan, sparking more protests against him.

Under this new recruitment regime in the armed forces, soldiers will be recruited for four years. After the end of the term, they will be able to apply for permanent jobs in the armed forces, and about 25% of them will be inducted. After the four-year service period, Agniveers who are not absorbed by the regular commission will receive a one-time “SevaNidhi” package amounting to ₹11.71 Lakh. They will also be given preference in UAPs, state government jobs, and state and central police forces.

This has been called a sea change in the recruiting process, and some young aspiring soldiers are burning trains against him, demanding that the existing recruiting process be continued. While opposition parties and even some military veterans have criticized the program, the fact is that such a short service for soldiers was suggested two decades ago, in the report of the Kargil.

The committee formed to study the sequence of events leading up to the Kargil War and make recommendations had made several suggestions to improve the defense of the country. Some of them have already been implemented.

One of the main recommendations of the committee was to reduce the average age of soldiers, as the report stated that the army should be young and fit all the time. The committee had also recommended an integrated manpower policy for the armed forces, paramilitary forces and central police forces.

The committee had stated, “In light of the new situation of proxy war and large-scale terrorism facing the country, the role and tasks of the paramilitary forces should be restructured, especially with regard to the functions command and control and leadership. They must be trained to much higher performance standards and better equipped to deal with terrorist threats. The possibility of adopting an integrated manpower policy for the armed forces , paramilitary forces and central police forces deserve consideration.

The report had further stated, “The army must be young and fit at all times. Therefore, instead of the current practice of having 17 years of color service (as has been the policy since 1976), it would be desirable to reduce color service to seven to ten years and, by to release these officers and men. for service in the country’s paramilitary formations.

The committee formed after the Kargil war had suggested that after the end of the period of service, they could be absorbed into the regular police force or into a “National Service Corps (or a National Conservation Corps), such as provided for in Article 5 lA(d) of the Constitution, to spearhead a series of measures for the conservation of land and water and the development of physical and social infrastructure.”

The committee had observed that this would reduce the age profile of the army and paramilitary forces, and would also reduce the costs of pensions and other entitlements such as married quarters and educational institutions.

The committee had noted that the army pension bill of ₹6,932 crore in 1999-2000 was almost two-thirds of the payroll and was rising sharply every year. In this year’s budget, ₹5.25 lakh has been allocated for defence, of which ₹1.19696 crore is allocated for pensions alone, meaning almost 25% of the defense budget is spent on the defense alone. payment of pensions. Military pensions rose sharply after the introduction of the One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme.

Such a sum spent on pensions means that there is not much left for the much-needed modernization of the armed forces, including the purchase of modern armaments and equipment. The defense sector already receives a large part of the budget allocation, and the possibility of increasing its share is very less. While some experts suggest increasing the budget allocation for defense, the Kargil Committee has opposed it.

While noting that budget constraints have affected the modernization process and created some operational vacuums, the committee said the share of the defense allocation should not be increased, but rather the government should find another way to to increase modernization expenditure. The report said, “The Committee would not want to advocate any percentage of GDP that should be allocated to defence. This should be left to the government to determine in consultation with relevant departments and defense services.

The Agnipath schema implements these recommendations.

Under this program, applicants between the ages of 17.5 and 21 will be recruited as Angiveers, and since they will only serve 4 years, the maximum age for an Angiveer will be 25. This will keep soldiers young and fit for their entire service life.

While 25% of Agniveers recruited through the Agnipath program will be absorbed into a regular commission, who will be promoted to higher ranks, the remaining 75% will be given preference in government and PSU jobs. This includes recruitment into state police forces and central armed police forces. Army-trained youths working in the police force will certainly improve the operational effectiveness of the police and paramilitary forces.

Besides national and central police forces, retired Agniveers will also be a valuable workforce in central and national disaster response forces, and similar jobs requiring physical fitness. Therefore, while 75% of young people will no longer be in the army after 4 years of service, they will certainly find gainful employment in the public and private sector.

The Agnipath scheme will help control the growing Army pension bill, as Agniveers will not receive a pension after their service ends. Around 45,000 to 50,000 Agniveers will be recruited each year, representing a substantial saving in pensions under the Agnipath scheme.

And all of this was recommended by the Kargil Review Committee over two decades ago, which has not been implemented by previous governments.

The army had proposed a three-year recruitment program

Not only the Kargil committee, the Indian Army had also come up with a recruitment program similar to the Agnipath program to save on labor costs. In 2020, the army had proposed a “tour of duty” scheme to recruit young people for 3 years. The current scheme has several similarities with this proposal, while the length of service has been set at 4 years instead of 3 years.

The army had calculated substantial monetary savings by employing soldiers for three years instead of the current 17 years, saying the money saved can be used for much-needed modernization of the armed forces.