“Agnipath” intake to grow from 46K annually in first 4 years, to 125K per year - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Saturday 18 June 2022

“Agnipath” intake to grow from 46K annually in first 4 years, to 125K per year

The Agnipath scheme hopes to transform India’s military in about 15 years into a volunteer force, with an average age of 27 years

By Ajai Shukla

Business Standard, 19th June 22


Doubling down on implementation of the “Agnipath Yojana” recruitment scheme, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) stated today that the number of volunteers being recruited under the scheme would rise from 46,000 volunteers in each of the first four years, to 90,000 volunteers in the fifth year, and to 125,000 in the sixth year.


The trajectory of those numbers will transform India’s military in about 15 years into a volunteer force, with an average age of 27 years.


"In the times to come, [the soldier’s average age] will come down to 26 years from 32 years. In six-seven years, we will be at 27 years of age at average," stated Lieutenant General Anil Puri, additional secretary in the Department of Military Affairs (DMA), who the MoD fielded on television on Saturday to defend the Agnipath Yojana.


Stressing that Agnipath was not about cutting personnel costs, Puri stated that the scheme’s primary objective was to make the military younger, dynamic and technology savvy.


“Don’t take this as a financial exercise. Instead, focus on the Agniveers [the volunteers recruited under 'Agnipath] and the youth," said Puri, adding, “There is no financial chapter in this project because [reducing manpower cost] is not the aim of the exercise.”


The induction of women under the Agnipath scheme would be progressive, said Puri, and women would not be allowed combat roles.


The general explained why the army believes that Agnipath will greatly improve the quality of personnel who join the three services: “There are 25 volunteers for each vacancy in the army, navy and air force. A second cut will be imposed at four years of service [when 75 per cent of a year’s intake is discharged from service]. This is the requirement of the times. The country deserved the best. Its soldiers must be adaptable to modern technology.”


Puri also elaborated upon the skilling of the volunteers who join under Agnipath. “We will give 10th class pass recruits a 12th class certificate. And recruits who have passed the 12th class will get a diploma,” he said.


Asked what subjects the volunteer recruits would be taught, Puri cited “physical education” as a skill for which credit would be given; and “supply chain management”, for learning how to deliver ammunition trucks to the forward line of troops. Credit would also be given for learning how to handle sophisticated equipment, such as specialist vehicles and weapons.


With street violence continuing over the perception that the Agnipath scheme would result in job opportunities lost, the government brought forward the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and industry to promise preferential employment for Agniveers who had completed their tenure of service.


The MHA tweeted on Saturday: “The MHA decides to reserve 10 per cent vacancies for recruitment in CAPFs (central armed police forces) and Assam Rifles for Agniveers, completing four years under the Agnipath scheme.”


The MHA also tweeted that it would “give three years age relaxation beyond the prescribed upper age limit, to Agniveers for recruitment in CAPFs and Assam Rifles. Further, for the first batch of Agniveers, the age relaxation will be for 5 years beyond the prescribed upper age limit.”


This constitutes a significant reversal by the MHA from several decades of resisting the allocation of job vacancies for retired MoD personnel in CAPF recruitment.


Puri said the Agniveers who joined paramilitary and police forces would be effective with very little training. The MHA would only need to put them through a finishing school, in which they would need only a two-to-three week orientation.


In the face of ongoing protests, the MoD also announced a 10 per cent quota in ministry jobs, spread across the Coast Guard and defence civilian posts and all 16 defence public sector undertakings. This would be in addition to existing reservations for ex-servicemen.


Reaching out to industry


The government has also canvassed private industry for job vacancies to be allocated to retired Agniveers. Anurag Jain, secretary of the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has spoken to 85 industries, including Bharat Forge, the Ambani Group and foreign companies such as Apple for job reservations to retired Agniveers.


"Industry leaders have told the government: ‘You give us discipline, we will do the finishing school', so hiring Agnipath graduates will not be a problem," said Puri.


Apple’s India chief, Virat Bhatia, told Jain: “We’ll assemble an Apple (computer) in two months with these guys,” according to Puri


The general sounded a stern warning against the street violence that has been led by youngsters worried by potential job losses.


“In the next 48 hours, recruitment will start. The youth need to [get off the streets] and get their certificates and get fit [since Covid-19 lockdowns have restricted their fitness levels],” said Puri. “We do not stand for arson under any circumstances.”

1 comment:

  1. What do you mean a "largely volunteer force"? Its already a completely volunteer force with no conscription.


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