Future of Agniveers not insecure, senior military officials consulted: Government
Defence Ministry on Thursday defended the recently announced recruiting policy, Agnipath 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. Before launching the project, ministry officials indicated that significant discussions were held with military officers.
- Although the new scheme has not entered the implementation phase, officials claimed it will pave the way for massive recruitment in the defense forces.
- Recruitment in the Indian Army and other defense forces has been blocked for nearly two years, putting aspirants into a distressing situation.
- However, the new scheme is facing sharp criticism from certain quarters following some apprehensions over job security.
According to defense officials, Agniveers who want to be entrepreneurs will get financial assistance, those interested in higher studies will be awarded a degree comparable to 10+2, and those who want to work would be priorities in Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs). "It is just a myth that opportunities for youth will decrease as a result of the Agnipath scheme," an official told HT.
The Ministry anticipates that in the next years, recruitment of Agniveers will be almost triple that of the armed services. It further said that the concept will not alter the current regimental system. "In fact it will be further accentuated because the best of Agniveers will be selected, further boosting cohesiveness of the unit," an official said.
Defense authorities stressed that such a short-term recruiting system exists in many countries and is a tried-and-tested method for a youthful and nimble force. They stated that thinking 21-year-olds are immature is incorrect. "The present scheme will only bring about a right mix of 50%-50%, slowly in a very long run, of youngsters and experienced supervisory ranks," officials said.
Protests over the Agnipath scheme became violent on Thursday. For the second day in a row, protesting applicants interrupted rail and road traffic in different areas of Bihar. Protesters using batons smashed the glass windows of the Intercity Express train at Bhabhua Road Railway Station and set fire to a coach. Protests were also held in Jaipur, Rajasthan, where the highway was closed.
Aspirants criticized the scheme saying that it will leave them in the lurch after four years with no pension benefit. According to them, recruiting into the Army began after a gap of two years, and even then, their future remains uncertain. They questioned the administration and asked what would happen to their future if they were not kept after four years.
Meanwhile, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs announced that the personnel recruited under the new scheme will be given precedence in recruitment to the CAPFs and Assam Rifles. Similarly, chief ministers of various Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled states said that these soldiers will be given preference in police recruitment while the Haryana government announced a preference for them in jobs and other works.