Agnipath scheme: Government increases age limit to 23 amid protests
The Centre on Thursday raised the age limit for the Agnipath military recruitment scheme to 23 years from 21 for the year 2022 amid nationwide protests against the new model of enrollment of soldiers. The one-time waiver in age limit was granted for the proposed recruitment cycle for 2022 as no recruitment has taken place in the last two years, the government said.
- The government announced the amendment in the scheme amid heavy protests against the Centre's move to bring down the average age of personnel and reduce pension expenditure.
- Notably, the protests also witnessed violence in various parts of the country on Tuesday.
- The protests have spread to 10 states, including Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, and Delhi.
The Agnipath scheme had assured to bring in men and women falling in the age bracket of 17-21 years, with only a quarter retained for longer periods. However, the government is facing flak over the shorter tenure and job security.
Meanwhile, the government has launched an outreach campaign to "dispel misconceptions" about the scheme. A detailed document titled "Myths vs Facts" was also reportedly released by the government sources. The government has also put out a 10-point defense of the scheme and assured recruits that they will not find themselves in the lurch after completing their four years in the military.
The Ministry of Defence on Thursday defended the scheme, despite objections, saying the future of soldiers would not be jeopardized. It said Agniveers will have various alternatives after serving four years in the forces, including becoming entrepreneurs, pursuing their education, and working. Agniveers will get financial assistance, be awarded a degree for education, and would get priority in Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs).