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Agnipath scheme: Why age relaxation can also become a problem

Recruitment data shows that the intake of 46,000 recruits this year — that's the number specified for recruitment in the first year of the Agnipath programme — will be the lowest since 2015 for the three services together.

Express Explained, Express exclusive, Agnipath, Agnipath scheme protests, , Agnipath protests, Agnipath scheme protests, Indian Army Agnipath scheme, Bihar Agnipath protests, Delhi Agnipath protests, Jharkhand Agnipath protests, agniveers, Agnipath Recruitment Scheme 2022 news, Agnipath Recruitment Scheme Indian Army, new Agnipath scheme, Congress, BJPData shows that between 2015 and 2020, the Army hired more than 50,000 soldiers every year.

Moving to allay concerns and dial down anger on the streets over the short-term Agnipath recruitment scheme for the armed forces, the government announced a one-time relaxation in the upper age limit for entrants this year, raising it from 21 to 23 years, saying there had been no recruitment in the last two years.

But this one-time waiver can also become a problem.

Recruitment data shows that the intake of 46,000 recruits this year — that’s the number specified for recruitment in the first year of the Agnipath programme — will be the lowest since 2015 for the three services together.

The age relaxation for the first year will see more candidates vie for the 46,000 positions being offered after two years of zero-recruitment — the government has not mentioned or shown any willingness yet to raise this number for 2022.

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According to recruitment data shared by the Ministry of Defence with Parliament in March this year, the recruitment of soldiers for the Army, below the rank of officers, through recruitment rallies in the last seven years, topped at 80,572 in 2019-2020. No recruitment has been done in the years since.

Data shows that between 2015 and 2020, the Army hired more than 50,000 soldiers every year.

Army recruitment in states hit by protests over Agnipath scheme

In 2015-2016, the Army recruited 71,804 people across the country, which came down to 52,447 in 2016-217. In 2017-2018, the Army recruited even fewer people — 50,026. This rose to 53,431 recruits in 2018-2019. The largest recruitment was in 2019-2020 when the Army took 80,572 recruits through its rallies.

These numbers are only for the Army, while the 46,000 Agniveers this year will be for all three services.

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Sources said the total induction in the three services over the first four years of the Agnipath scheme will be a little over 2 lakh — 202,900 Agniveers, of which around 175,000 will be for the Army. This works out to an average of around 50,000 Agniveers recruited every year for all three services over the next four years.

Agnipath protests continued for the second day Friday against the short-term scheme for the armed forces.

The data shared with Parliament also shows that just eight states account for more than 60 per cent of all recruitment in the Army since 2015.

Since 2015, according to the data, 186,795 people have been recruited in the Army from Punjab, Haryana, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Total recruitment in the Army for these years was 308,280. The share of these states in the total recruitment was a little over 60 per cent.

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The anger against the new policy is also likely to be more in the villages because recruitment data for the Army shows that more than three quarters of the recruits come from villages. In 2018-2019, recruits from villages accounted for 78.32 per cent of the total intake of the Army, and in 2019-2020, this share stood at 77.20 per cent.

The Ministry of Defence had informed Parliament that recruitment rallies had been suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic since July 2021. In 2020-2021, the Army had conducted 47 rallies across the country but again, because of the pandemic, the process was not completed and the rallies did not result in any recruitment that year either.

First published on: 18-06-2022 at 04:00:30 am
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