The Agniveer’s journey

Source: This post is based on the article “The Agniveer’s journey” published in the Indian Express on 17th July 2022.

Syllabus: GS2 – Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Relevance: Agnipath Scheme.


Recently, the government of India introduced a new recruitment scheme for the armed forces, Agnipath.

Must read: Agnipath Scheme: Need, Benefits and Challenges – Explained, pointwise
What are the advantages of the Agnipath scheme?

1) Until now more than half of India’s defence budget is spent on pensions, while just around 5% is earmarked for research and development. This situation will change after the implementation of Agnipath. 2) A significant number of Agniveers will be employed in paramilitary forces, and their service and training will be recognised as a degree.

Must read: How can Agnipath be made more attractive? Recommendations from 2 former army leaders
What are the outcomes of the US’s Tour of Duty scheme?

a) According to the US National Institute for Drug Abuse, almost 20% of the veterans coming out of the US’s tour of duty scheme suffer from homelessness and mental health issues compared to the rest of the population, b) Veterans who are unable to readjust well with civilian life have been involved in violent, organised crime and even terrorist activities. For instance, World War II veterans formed the Hells Angels (an “outlaw” motorcycle club). Similarly, On his return, a decorated pilot in the Vietnam War, has joined the Ku Klux Klan(KKK) and is now one of the leading ideologues for racist organisations.

Read more: Arun Prakash writes: Agnipath, between the lines
What are the lessons India needs to learn from the Tour of Duty scheme?

1) The free market may pay lip service to patriotic sentiments, but it does not give salaries or jobs based on them, 2) As a large number of armed forces gig workers come out of their service, the agniveers will need assistance with their social and psychological readjustment, 3) The movie Rambo highlighted the “war vet” genre. I.e., the stories of soldiers who come back to a world that does not, cannot understand them. Hence, India must address such incidents.

Read more: Will Agnipath energise or demoralise the military?

Serious consideration and resources must be put in place to help agniveers to readjust. Further, India needs to provide assistance in mental health, community and vocational therapy.

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