No rollback of 'Agnipath' scheme; 3 services come out with broad schedule for recruitment : The Tribune India

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No rollback of 'Agnipath' scheme; 3 services come out with broad schedule for recruitment

Those applying under Agnipath scheme will have to give an undertaking that they have not participated in any violent protest or arson



PTI

New Delhi, June 19

Ruling out any rollback of the 'Agnipath' recruitment scheme in view of widespread protests, the Army, Navy and the Air Force on Sunday came out with a broad schedule of enrolment of soldiers under the new policy and asserted that it is the only way to bring down the age profile of the three services.

Lt Gen Anil Puri, the Additional Secretary in the Department of Military Affairs, said at a tri-services press conference that anyone involved in protests, arson and vandalism against the scheme would not qualify to join the three services under the new model.

He also said that supportive measures announced in the last few days for the recruits under the scheme were not initiated because of the protests and arson and the government was already working on them as part of overall measures to ensure employment for those who exit the services after the four-year stint.

"Why should it be rolled back? It is the only progressive step to making the armed forces young. It is a question of protecting the country," Lt Gen Puri said.

The announcement of the scheme on Tuesday triggered violent protests in several parts of the country, with agitating defence aspirants demanding its roll back citing only four-year tenure for 75 per cent of the recruits under it.

The additional secretary said the "major reform initiative" to bring down the age profile was introduced after years of deliberations and studying the recruitment process in several countries.

He said that even the high-level committee on the 1999 Kargil War had made suggestions on it.

"We had detailed deliberations on making forces young. We studied the recruitment process and tenures of soldiers in several countries. We want young people as they are risk-takers. They have passion, 'josh aur hosh' in equal proportions," Lt Gen Puri said.

He said the Army has been trying to bring down its age profile for over three decades.

Referring to the COVID-19 pandemic stalling the recruitment process in the last two years, Lt Gen Puri described the announcement of the Agnipath scheme as an opportunity given by the "God and the nature" to ensure a younger military.

The media briefing at the headquarters of the defence ministry took place hours after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held a meeting with the chiefs of the Army, Navy and the Air Force for the second straight day.

"There is no space for indiscipline in the armed forces. There is no space for arson and violence. All those who want to become part of the armed forces under the Agnipath scheme will have to give a certificate that they were not part of any arson," Lt Gen Puri said.

He said the age profile of the armed forces would come down to 26 from 32 with the implementation of the 'Agnipath' scheme.

Giving details of the Navy's plan to induct 'Agniveers' under the scheme, Vice Admiral (Personnel) Dinesh Tripathi said the naval headquarters will come out with a broad guideline for the recruitment by June 25.

The first batch of recruits will join the training programme at INS Chilka in Odisha by November 21, he said, adding the Navy is recruiting both men and women as 'Agniveers' under the scheme. INS Chilka is a training facility of the Indian Navy.

About the Indian Air Force's plan for induction under the Agnipath scheme, Air Marshall SK Jha said the registration process will start on June 24 and the process for online examination for phase one of the recruitment process will begin on July 24.

"We are planning to start the training for the first batch of recruits by December 30," Air Marshall Jha said.

Elaborating on the Army's recruitment plan, Lt Gen Bansi Ponappa said the Army will issue a draft notification on Monday and subsequent notifications will be issued by various recruitment units of the force from July 1 onwards.

Recruitment rallies under the Agnipath scheme will take place across India in August, September and October, he said.

Lt Gen Ponappa said the first batch of 25,000 personnel will join the training programme in the first and second week of December. The second lot of recruits will join their training around February 23.

He said a total of 83 recruitment rallies will be organised across the country to select around 40,000 personnel.

Referring to the provision of exit of 75 per cent of the 'Agniveers' after the four-year tenure, Lt Gen Puri said around 17,600 personnel take premature retirement annually from the three services.

"It is not that exit will take place only under Agnipath scheme is implemented," he said.

Unveiling the scheme on Tuesday, the government said youths between the ages of 17 and-a-half and 21 years would be inducted for a four-year tenure while 25 per cent of them will be subsequently inducted for regular service.

The youths to be recruited under the new scheme would be called 'Agniveer'.

In an attempt to pacify the protesters, the government on Thursday night increased the upper age limit for recruitment under the 'Agnipath' scheme to 23 years from 21 for the year 2022.

The announcement of the new scheme came against the backdrop of recruitments into the military remaining stalled for over two years.

The Army recruits 50,000 to 60,000 soldiers annually. However, the recruitment could not take place for the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  


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