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Agnipath scheme: Service chiefs meet PM; IAF’s notification for recruitment out

All the three services are set to begin the recruitment process this week. While the Army issued a notification for compulsory online registration of all Agnipath job aspirants on Monday, the IAF did so today. The Navy is set to issue its notification in a day or two.

Officers from the tri-services at a press conference in New Delhi on Tuesday. (Express photo by Renuka Puri)

AMID THE ongoing protests over the Agnipath short-term recruitment scheme for the armed forces, the chiefs of the three services met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday.

All the three services are set to begin the recruitment process this week. While the Army issued a notification for compulsory online registration of all Agnipath job aspirants on Monday, the IAF did so today. The Navy is set to issue its notification in a day or two.

Seeking to address misgivings about the scheme, senior officers of the three services held a press conference for the second time in three days on Tuesday. “Agnipath balances three things: a youthful profile of the armed forces, technically savvy and adaptable people will join the forces, and it will make the individual future-ready,” said Lt Gen Anil Puri, Additional Secretary, Department of Military Affairs.

Puri said several deliberations were held before the scheme was announced. There were about 150 meetings, adding up to 500 hours of discussions, among the services, he said. Similarly, he said, there were 60 meetings within the Ministry of Defence, in which the policy was discussed for about 150 hours. And there were 44 meetings, adding up to about 100 hours, with other arms of the government, he said.

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“All stakeholders were involved” and the timing of the launch was chosen to ensure that it could be implemented without any “major upheaval”, he said. “If it was up to us, we would have done it in 1990,” he said. “The last two years, we got an opportunity, we stopped the recruitment process,” he added.

Since 1989, several committees have been set up for defence reforms, including the Arun Singh Committee-Task Force on Management of Defence (1989), Kargil Review Committee (2000), Group of Ministers-Reforming the National Security System (2001), Sixth Pay Commission (2006) and Shekatkar Committee of Experts (2016), he said. The new recruitment policy is part of a series of important reforms in the services, based on the reports of these committees, he said.

Puri said the intention was to create a more youthful military, and was not about “rightsizing” or “downscaling”. He said it should be seen as the latest step after higher defence reforms, including creation of the Integrated Defence Staff (IDS); integration among the services; creation of leaner and cohesive forces; lateral entry into other organisations; and creation of the post of the Chief of Defence Staff. Puri reiterated that all applicants for Agnipath would have to give an undertaking that they were not part of any violence. “There is no place for arson and violence in the armed forces,” he said.

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Lt Gen C Bansi Ponappa, Adjutant General, said the Army will try to make its recruitment broad-based and get more aspirants from places that were not catchment areas earlier.

Since the scheme was announced last week, Army Chief General Manoj Pande, Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar and Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhari have held two meetings with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.

Under the new policy, 46,000 Agniveers will be recruited for the three services this year, and between 50,000 to 60,000 annually thereafter. The Agniveers will leave their respective services after a four-year period. Of them, 25 per cent will be recruited again for a 15-year period, and they will get pension and lifelong healthcare benefits.

First published on: 21-06-2022 at 09:14:13 pm
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