Military says Agnipath recruitment scheme is here to stay; recruitment begins in August - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Sunday 19 June 2022

Military says Agnipath recruitment scheme is here to stay; recruitment begins in August

Lt Gen Anil Puri, the military’s frontman in defending the scheme, said: 'Agnipath will not be rolled back. Why should it be rolled back?"


By Ajai Shukla

Business Standard, 19th Jun 22


Downplaying the violent protests against the Agnipath recruitment scheme that continue to rock Uttar Pradesh, Telangana and Bihar, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) on Sunday fielded the military’s top manpower planners in a press conference to send out the message: “Agnipath is here to stay.”


Lieutenant General Anil Puri, additional secretary in the Department of Military Affairs (DMA), who was at the forefront of conceiving and structuring the Agnipath Yojana and is now the military’s frontman in defending the scheme, told the press conference in Delhi: “"The Agnipath scheme will not be rolled back. Why should it be rolled back?"


Conveying the impression of a strong government, Puri said the concessions that the MoD had made in the Agnipath scheme were not forced by protests and arson, but because they were already in the works.


The generals spelt out a recruitment schedule that made it clear it was too late to backtrack on this pathbreaking scheme.


Lieutenant General C Bansi Ponnappa, the army’s Adjutant General and top manpower planner, said army recruitment would start in the first half of August and the first Agniveers will come in by the first week of December, followed by a second lot in February. 


Ponappa said the army would hold 83 recruitment rallies and touch "every village" in the country. With the 2011 census placing the country’s village count at 6,40,930, this requires each rally to carry out recruitment from an average of 7,722 villages. This is clearly an exaggeration.


The air force too said it would enrol the first batch of Agniveers by December and training would begin before the New Year.


The navy, however, will be the first service to get off the blocks. The first batch of Agniveers would reach the Chilka Lake in Odisha for training by November 21.


The unanticipated protests have forced the government to announce several ad hoc concessions. These include a 10 per cent quota in MoD jobs, which include the Coast Guard, defence civilian posts, and all 16 defence public sector undertakings. This reservation would be over and  above the existing job reservations for ex-servicemen.


In addition, the government hastily announced a 10 per cent quota for retired Agniveers in the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs), which include the Central Reserve Police Force, the Border Security Force, the Central Industrial Security Force, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, the Seema Suraksha Bal and the Assam Rifles, the last of which comes under the MoD.


From the outset, Puri has been instructed to convey the message that saving money, by reducing the number of pensioners, or by lowering the salary payroll of serving soldiers, was not a key objective of Agnipath. Instead, the main aim was to lower the age profile of the military from the current average of 32 years to a more sustainable average of 27 years.


Puri also used the lure of Agniveer jobs to quell public unrest and stop arson on the streets. He said any candidate who faces a police case cannot apply for Agnipath.

1 comment:

  1. # GoI earmark, set aside positions in the union's armed police forces which function almost always as paramilitary, border protection forces [land -BSF and sea - cost guard] and are organized no different than the regular military into rifle sections, platoons, rifle companies, support weapons companies, battalions and equipped with the same weaponry. 81 mm mortars, medium machine guns, light machine guns, infantry rapid fire rifles [certainly not crowd control weapons] in addition to the token lathi and tear gas, even have commando sections, entire commando companies, battalions, parachutist training, wear parachutist insignia just as military airborne forces do. confirming that the BSF for instance are certainly not carabinieri, gendarmerie supporting the constabulary, or even federal police but paramilitary.
    all this confirms that not even raisina hill, or sena bhavan believe that 'agniveers' at the conclusion of four years tour of duty will stand head and shoulders over general, off the street, raw applicants to the paramilitary forces but will require to have protection from competition, the advantage, privilege of reservation. begging the question that if places have to be earmarked, set aside, reserved for agniveers to shield them from the disappointment that they could face in open competition with the average youth then will they have half a chance of being distinguished for their four year tour of duty experience as preferred applicants to positions that will lead to anything other than dead end jobs. such as sitting in fake uniforms, peaked cap, silver stars on epaulette, cross belt, chappals at an ATM kiosk, or monitor the operation of technology of the metal detector, bag x-ray at shopping mall foyers, checking for IED in entering vehicles proceeding to under the building parking, or manning the gates at JNU and other crucibles of aunty nationals.
    that BSF, CRPF, even RPF with their free railway passes, and other railwaymen's perquisites, retirement at 60, attract a far superior quality of recruit than the army, navy, air force can even hope to attract is one of the embarrassment all military officers cannot be unaware of. for that matter young men, women prefer direct recruitment as sub-inspectors in delhi police, other state police, both for being lucrative and much more prestigious even in the marriage and dowry bazaar than as commissioned officers out of OTA, even IMA. senior military officers in the sixties, seventies, eighties, even nineties had sons joining the merchant marine TS rajendra to work on a rust bucket container ship rather than the prestige of our indian navy via NDA. a similar travesty is unimaginable in USA, britain, france, china, singapore.
    most of the lofty character building aims of 'agniveers' are already being targeted through the NCC, and this corps can be expanded, strengthened. then there are the territorial army battalions - these are already our agniveers, and much more glamorous than any commission into the armoured corps, special forces commandos where 44 months of NDA, IMA will only lead to being a lowly lieutenant with pay, allowances including military service pay on par with a nurse from the MNS. the TA grant commissions directly as colonel, wing commander and all the fawning of generals, air marshals, admirals vying for the selfie.

    in policy analysis it is useful to be able to hear what is not being said, rather than be distracted by static. the shrewd invariably use speech to conceal their thoughts.


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