Making changes in Agnipath scheme a welcome step

The imminent review of the controversial Agnipath scheme, a short-term contractual employment in the armed forces, is probably the first instance of the NDA 3.0 shedding its recalcitrant past and becoming more accommodative and sensitive to public criticism. Chastised by the poll mandate and forced to depend on the support of allies to run the coalition government, the BJP leadership appears to have made a climbdown on the issue and initiated a process to make big changes in the scheme that had triggered widespread protests in the country two years ago. This is a good move and hopefully the government will do the much-needed course correction.

It is important to note that the Janata Dal (United), a crucial ally of the NDA, is opposed to the Agnipath scheme and has been rooting for its review, citing concerns about its impact on the youths and the recruitment processes. The Army has suggested major changes to the scheme, based on feedback from an internal survey. These changes include extending the service tenure from four to eight years, increasing the retention rate of agniveers to 60-70 per cent, and raising the induction age for technical services to 23 years. The modifications aim to address concerns over inadequate expertise and improve the scheme’s effectiveness. This is a welcome development, given the widespread apprehensions over the scheme in its present form.