Tour of duty program provides contributory severance pay for soldiers called Seva Nidhi

The latest draft of a proposed scheme to recruit soldiers into the Indian Armed Forces on short-term contracts requires each soldier and the government to contribute an equal amount each month to their final severance pay of around Rs 10 lakh – which the soldiers would receive on retirement after four years of service, News18 has learned.

According to senior government sources, the program includes a “Seva Nidhi package”, which implies that each month a soldier will contribute 30% of his stipend and the government will also contribute an equal amount. Upon retirement after four years, the soldiers will receive around Rs 10 lakh with interest.

The Seva Nidhi package has similarities with the National Pension Scheme – a contributory pension scheme applicable to civil servants since 2004. It will help the government save on the defense budget by generating the severance pay from the pool created in through individual contributions, sources said. .

Options for Claiming Seva Nidhi

A government source said soldiers would have two options to claim the Seva Nidhi package.

“One option is to credit Rs 1 lakh to a soldier’s account when released after four years and convert the remaining amount into bank guarantees to raise loans. The second is to credit the entire amount to the soldier’s account all at once,” the source told News18.

Tentatively named Agnipath, the program could be announced within a week, reviving recruitment in the armed forces which has been suspended for more than two years now.

Top sources told News18 that more than 45,000 recruits would be integrated into the three services on the first try. Soldiers recruited under the program will receive a monthly salary of between Rs 30,000 and Rs 40,000.

“They will be granted risk and hardship allowance separately on the same basis as regular soldiers depending on where they are posted,” a second source said.

Recruits would also receive death and disability benefits under the scheme.

In the event of death and disability

“If a soldier dies in the line of duty, the options could be to provide non-contributory insurance cover of Rs 48 lakh with a single ex gratia amount of Rs 44 lakh and provide the salary for the number of years for which he could not serve, which would include the Seva Nidhi component,” the second source said.

“In case of disability, the percentage of disability will be assessed according to the existing medical criteria and a one-time ex gratia amount of Rs 44 lakh, Rs 25 lakh or Rs 15 lakh would be provided depending on the percentage of disability,” he said. said the source.

Soldiers between the ages of 17.5 and 21 would be recruited under this program. They will be released after four years of service, including six months of training. A diploma and license are also provided for recruits upon release.

After the soldiers are released, a certain percentage of them would be rehired to serve the full term in the military for another 15 years, based on certain parameters yet to be formulated. Their last four years of service would not be included in the calculation of their pensions upon retirement, sources said.

The draft scheme – first proposed in 2020 for officers and privates – had undergone several revisions over the past two years. Initially, the plan was to release a certain percentage of soldiers after three and five years each and retain the rest to serve for the full term.

However, the government and the services could not agree on the final percentages to be retained.

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