Representational image | Recruits to the J&K Light Infantry celebrate the end of their training | Photo: ANI
Representational image | Recruits to the J&K Light Infantry celebrate the end of their training | Photo: ANI
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New Delhi: Months after it was first proposed by the Army, India’s defence establishment is actively considering expanding the scope of the ‘Tour of Duty’ model of recruitment to the Air Force and Navy as well, ThePrint has learnt.

“We are planning to expand the scheme to bring all three services under its fold. Bringing the Central Armed Police Forces under the same scheme or a similar one is also under consideration,” a defence official said, adding the finer details and calculations for the scheme are being worked out, so it can be implemented by the middle of next year.

Sources said India’s political leadership is keen on the scheme, given its future potential to generate large-scale employment, and is pushing to working out its modalities. They added that there are plans to expand the scheme over the next few years to ensure that close to 40 per cent of the strength of the Army is recruited through it.

Army sources, however, told ThePrint that no concrete decision has yet been taken on the implementation of the scheme, and the idea is currently at the discussion stage.

Earlier this year, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat had said the concept is at a nascent stage, and its viability needs to be studied.

Also read: Army caught in old hiring conflict — 3-yr Tour of Duty or 5-yr Short Service Commission?

What is the proposed model?

Currently, the only option apart from regular permanent commission into the armed forces is the Short Service Commission, in which officers are recruited for a period of 14 years. A large number of SSC officers eventually opt for permanent commission, subject to eligibility.

The Army had, in May, proposed the ‘Tour of Duty’ model of recruitment that would let young individuals voluntarily serve for a temporary period of three years. The idea is to attract more youth to join the Army, fill up officers’ vacancies, and later, reduce burgeoning defence pensions, which make up nearly 30 per cent of the defence budget after ballooning when the ‘One Rank One Pension’ (OROP) scheme was implemented.

Defence sources told ThePrint that one of the names being considered for the scheme is ‘Agnipath’ (literally, the path of fire), with the volunteers set to be called ‘Agniveers’ (fire-warriors).

As reported by ThePrint, an initial pilot project is set to be tried out, with the first batch of recruits likely to include up to 100 officers and 1,000 personnel at other ranks. The model will be evaluated and assessed on the results of the pilot project.

‘Close to 40 % of Army could be recruited through it’

To reduce the defence pension bill, the Department of Military Affairs (DMA) headed by CDS Rawat had proposed that those taking PMR (Pre-Mature Retirement) with 20-25 years of service will now be entitled to only 50 per cent of the current pension. As of now, rules state that officers will receive pension which is 50 per cent of their last drawn salary, for which they are eligible upon completing 20 years of service.

The original Tour of Duty proposal stated that the total amount spent on each officer recruited through the scheme would be Rs 80-85 lakh, including pre-commission training, pay, allowances, gratuity, proposed severance packages, leave encashment and other costs. Currently, an amount of Rs 5.12 crore is spent on an SSC officer who retires after 10 years, and Rs 6.83 crore on one who retires after 14 years. The savings on only 1,000 jawans could be Rs 11,000 crore, the proposal said, adding that this money could be put towards the modernisation of the Army.

A second defence official told ThePrint that to further reduce the pension bill, there are plans to expand the scheme over a few years to ensure that close to 40 per cent of Army personnel are recruited through it. The official used the Army as an example since it is the largest of the three services, with a strength of about 14 lakh.

“Around 65,000 personnel of the Army retire every year. The plan being considered is to recruit a certain number of personnel on this scheme, and keep increasing the number progressively every year, till they form a decided percentage of the armed forces,” the official said.

The official said that such large-scale recruitment can come into effect only in about 15 years.

Also read: Make short service lucrative, raise retirement age: CDS plan to reduce defence pensions

What the ‘tour’ will entail

While the final modalities of selection are yet to be worked out, sources said doing away with the written examination and fixing a cut-off percentage — in graduation for officers and class 12 for jawans — is being considered. But interviews will be part of the process.

Initial plans are to hold the training for the selected officers at the Officer Training Academy in Chennai, and for the jawans at the respective regimental centres. Selected regimental centres are to be nominated for the pilot project.

Once trained, these personnel would be sent to their respective units and field areas. The modalities for allotment of arms and services would be worked out separately, and would depend on the final figures or percentages approved.

“Eventually, it might be a move that will aim at generating large-scale employment in the country,” a source said.

However, with the enhanced number of people being trained, the overall expenditure on the training will go up.

“While the nation as a whole will have certain trained, disciplined and motivated youth available for jobs, there will be a certain lack of continuity and lack of regimentation in the forces. It has to be seen how this can be checked,” the second official quoted above said.

Another source said a similar scheme for CAPFs is also being considered. “We have sought comments from CAPFs on the move, which any further decision would be based on.”

Also read: Wide variation in disability pensions of jawans, officers creating ‘heartburn’: CDS Rawat


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  1. Reducing expenditures is most welcome. but where from it should come out. भारतीय नौसेना में सिविलियन कैटेगरी बजट कितना है ? कुल बजट का कितना है ? कोचीन, विशाखापट्टनम में सिविलियन ( total non-technical ) शाम को बड़ी फैक्ट्री की तरह से बाहर निकलते हैं l गए कब थे पता नहीं चलता l पूछो , क्या करके आए हैं, कहीं भी, किसी भी मायने में, जरूरत नहीं है , उनके नहीं आने से क्या प्रभावित हो जाएगाl ! पता तो चले l डिफेंस में, ये नहीं चाहिए, निश्चित समय सीमा में समाप्त करना चाहिए l सिक्योरिटी की क्वालिटी उत्तम होगी, जिसकी देश को आज बहुत ज्यादा आवश्यकता है l

  2. Our so called leadership should realize that to create a true soldier with multifaceted skill and impeccable integrity, disciplined and loyal towards our nation, it takes a lot of effort, training and grooming which these so called leaders often lacks. How can you think that within a short span of 3 years a person can be an expert in handling our sophisticated weapon systems and other complicated platforms like Aircrafts, Radars, submarines, Tanks, missiles etc. In my opinion we should make military training and field service compulsory for all politicians and beurocrats before they take-up their civil assignments so that they get a first hand experience about a soldiers life. They should be posted to places like Siachen glacier and remotest location of our North Eastern borders and stay away from their lived ones without any cost facilities and no helpers. Then only while making policies they will understand the extreme circumstances and conditions under which our armed forces are serving.

  3. This CDS has benefited all perks and privilege while being in service and never brought this stupid idea then. Presumably, Now to get Gov ship he is bringing all these ideas. He is an imaginary officer who has never worked on the ground or else he would know that it takes 3-4 yrs for an new entrants to get some expertise to work on complex system in the services.

  4. You have the Territorial Army (TA) where the entry and embodied service conditions could be reworked to fit the bill of this scheme. If required the training and experience imparted and imbibed could be drawn upon subsequently at short notice. Make and improve something existing better than experimenting and littering abandoned hairbrained schemes strewn All over.

  5. It should be introduced to men who surpass normal age of employment eligibility ie. from around 25 to 28 years for 10 years. They can choose from the many Pension (annuity) schemes and invest.

  6. Stupid idea,jawan in airforce takes 3years to train how, any one can train officer in limited time and his service is limited to 3years.CDS must know he is not running factory.from.everywhere they need to collect money.and everywhere they stating that defece pension restricting modernization of ARMED FORCES to much bullish

  7. Well opined. On completion of their draft period of Service, they should be suitably absorbed in civil services. This would not only compensate by providing the weightage to meet the eligibility criteria envisaged by the new employer but also enable the latter to utilize the expertize gained during such period in a particular field of placement.

  8. It is wiser to have a professional army, Navy or Airforce. The logic that we will have more money to buy arms is definitely attractive to the political parties, who rely on kickbacks and other devious tricks. Remember: In any airforce; The pilot who flies a fighter aircraft is more valuable than the aircraft he flies. The same is true in the other forces.

  9. This will work only if the volunteers are given reserved seats in IIMs and other premier management colleges as they will ask as to what will they gain by investing 3 years of their prime life, in the defence of the country. This 3 years must matter to their overall plan.

  10. One can make Tour of Duty a neccessary qualification for appearing in All India and central services. It can also be made compulsory qualification for political offices. This will have two benefits, first our politicians and beaurocrates will be more secular and disciplined. Besides armed forces will attract good stuff.

  11. A welcome move. This should be extended to all central services recruitment and not only for army. it will improve efficiency and ensure large scale employment. Give only fixed consolidated pay instead of salary. Govt service moto should be the self less service and not selfish service.

  12. Utter nonsense ,the way it’s being projected that the pensioon paid to the exservisemen is a burden on the country ,whereas much of the pension goes to the civ staff in MOD .
    It seems that the burden of the state lies with exservisemen only ,no politician is a burden ,no babus or other govt staff pension is a burden .God Save this country .

    • Crtly said bro here retired teacher getting pensions more than that of working personal who r all the real productive one.

  13. Most stupid idea. can you really make someone a capable officer in three years? It takes lots of training and experience followed by baptism by fire. The CDS has become too subservient to the establishment and accepting each and everything suggested without caring for the forces. These officers particularly the civilians will not be able to deliver and land up as cannon fodder in the battlefield. Are there any shortcuts to training and grooming? AND lose them after three years!

    • Sir,
      General Bipin Rawat First selected as COAS resulting extension in his service term then he got the opportunity to become first CDS of country resulting in more extension in his service term now he becomes more selfish and wish to obtain a Election seat from BJP after his retirement as CDS just like General VK Singh.

      “Rawat Saab Fauj me sudhar ke naam par, Sarkar ki har fijool / bakwas recommendation ko man kar apni swarth ki roti, army ki barbadi ki aag par sekna chah rahe h”

      Sad But True

    • True, considering that the last thing we want in the armed forces are men who haven’t even developed a spine yet for armed combat and who’ll end up leaving their posts when under enemy fire. We do not want our army-men to end up becoming like soldiers from the PLA or the Pakistan Army, whom we often despise for the same. Concerns regarding “continuity” are valid too. The move calls for scepticism.

  14. How about defence civilians be shifted to Contributory Pension scheme? This will save a lot of defence pension burden.

    • True:: Defence Civilians are true burden to armed forces and the country. They are treated like damad in fauj and yet they hot guts to go on strike at will. They dont want to work during working hours so that they can get overtime. If a civilian want to go home without completing a work you cant hold his hand. Despite all this they want argue with service personnel over senoirity. God save the Fauj.

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