On June 14, the Union Cabinet introduced the Agnipath scheme for recruitment into the defence forces. Under the scheme, which is meant for hiring below the officer ranks, candidates will be enrolled for a duration of four years.
After the four years are over, the candidates can either apply for enrolment into the regular cadre or leave the scheme with a one-time exit corpus fund. No more than 25% of the candidates from a particular batch will be absorbed into the regular cadre for a further 15-year service.
This scheme has drawn ire from the youth and has even resulted in protests across the country appealing for a rollback. Resultantly several officials and ministers spoke in defence of the scheme. FactChecker verified two such claims made by Varanasi Commissioner of Police Satish Ganesh and Lok Sabha MP Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore with official records and found neither to be completely true.
“Only 3% of the total recruitment in the armed forces will be through the Agnipath scheme,” claimed Varanasi Commissioner Satish Ganesh.
Fact: This claim is false.
Varanasi Commissioner Satish Ganesh, in an interview to News 24 channel, said only 3% of the total recruitment into the armed forces will be through the Agnipath scheme. The rest 97% will be through traditional modes.
“It is being explained to the youngsters and is being made clear that under the government’s policy merely 3% recruitment is through the Agnipath scheme and the rest 97% is traditional, long-term recruitment,” said Ganesh.
In the past five years, the average recruitment in the Indian Army has been nearly 62,000 between the fiscal year 2015-’16 and fiscal year 2019-’20, before the process was halted for two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Indian Navy and Indian Air Force have, on average, recruited nearly 5,100 and 6,800 candidates respectively, in the four years between 2018-’19 and 2021-’22.
Overall, the three armed forces, before the pandemic, recruited 53,347 soldiers every year between 2018-’19 and 2019-’20. If 3% of these recruitments are to happen under the new scheme, the number of Agniveers to be hired each year should be 1,600.
But, the Union Ministry of Defence said, in a press release, that 46,000 Agniveers are planned to be recruited this year under the scheme.
Moreover, Lt Gen Anil Puri, additional secretary, Department of Military Affairs, recently said the number of recruits under Agnipath will go up to 1.25 lakh in the near future. “Our intake of Agniveers will go up to 1.25 lakh in the near future and will not remain at 46,000 which is the present figure,” said Lt Gen Puri during a press briefing. This means that a major share of defence recruits will be hired under the Agnipath scheme.
“The outgoing Agniveers will get a sum of Rs 20 lakh after four years,” claimed Retired Colonel and Lok Sabha MP Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore.
Fact: This claim is misleading.
While defending the centre’s “transformative” scheme, Rathore claimed that not many young people have a sum of Rs 20 lakh at such a young age. “Is there a 24-year-old youngster around you who has earned Rs 20 lakh,” he said.
A similar claim was made by BJP Mahila Morcha leader Priti Gandhi, who said Agniveers will have Rs 23.43 lakh at the end of the four years.
This is the pay structure for Agniveers for all four years:
According to this breakup given by the Centre, at the end of the four-year contract period, the candidate will receive Rs 11.71 lakh as the Seva Nidhi package or a one-time exit fund, which will include Rs 10.04 lakh corpus fund + interest. For an individual, the government will contribute a total amount of Rs 5.02 lakh to the fund across four years – 1.08 lakh in the first year, 1.19 lakh in the second, 1.31 lakh in the third year and 1.44 lakh in the fourth.
The other half of the money will be borne from the candidate’s gross salary. So, the in-hand salary will be 70% of the gross salary across all four years, with 30% being deducted for a contribution to the Seva Nidhi corpus.
But Gandhi and Rathore have also included the total in-hand salary the soldiers will receive across the four years, which will be Rs 11.72 lakh. But salary cannot be counted as savings or money the soldiers will have at the end of the four years.
The Centre has announced certain reservations for the approximate 35,000 Agniveers that would retire from service each year. After the Ministry of Home Affairs announced a 10% reservation for ex-Agniveers in Central Armed Paramilitary Forces and Assam Rifles, the Defence Ministry too approved a proposal to reserve 10% of job vacancies in the ministry for candidates after they complete their four-year stint.
“The 10% reservation will be implemented in the Indian Coast Guard and defence civilian posts, and all the 16 Defence Public Sector Undertakings. This reservation would be in addition to an existing reservation for ex-servicemen,” read the Ministry of Defence announcement.
Until now, 10% of the vacant positions in Group C for Central government jobs and Central Armed Paramilitary Forces and 20% in Group D, were to be reserved for veterans, according to the Department of Personnel & Training. In public sector banks and Public Sector Undertakings, the reservation is 14.5% and 24.5% for Group C and Group D, respectively.
The Defence Ministry Public Sector Undertakings, Central Armed Paramilitary Forces and other central departments that have promised a 10% reservation to the candidates exiting the Agnipath scheme have not been able to fill even the current ex-servicemen vacancies.
By June last year, the central departments and ministries had only filled around 1.29% of the total 10% reserved vacancies for ex-servicemen in Group C, and 2.66% of 20% reserved vacancies in Group D.
In all the various units of the paramilitary forces only 0.47% of the vacancies for ex-servicemen in Group C have been filled. In Group D, no vacancies for ex-servicemen have been filled as per the Directorate General of Resettlement’s Half-Yearly Report.
FactChecker tried contacting Rathore via email and call for clarification on his statement but did not receive a response. We also reached out to Varanasi Commissioner of Police Satish Ganesh via call, and spoke to his public relations officer Sunil Yadav, who said that the Commissioner of Police would revert later. We had not received a response from him either by the time of publishing this article. If and when we do, it shall be updated here.
This article first appeared on FactChecker.in, a publication of the data-driven and public-interest journalism non-profit IndiaSpend.