No roll-back of Agnipath scheme, all concessions pre-planned: Defence Ministry
The Ministry of Defence on Sunday stated that the Agnipath Scheme will not be rolled back, saying that such changes had been long overdue since the armed services sought to bring in more youth and experience. It also stated that the reservations for "Agniveers" announced by different ministries were pre-planned and not in response to the protests that occurred after the policy was launched.
Why does this story matter?
- Officials claimed that the Agnipath scheme will open the door for significant recruitment in the defense forces.
- Notably, the Indian Army and other defense forces' recruitment processes were suspended two years ago, leaving hopefuls in a difficult situation.
- However, despite the Centre's announcement of certain amendments, the new program is drawing severe criticism from some quarters leading to violent protests across many states.
What exactly did the ministry say?
"This reform was long pending. We want to bring youthfulness and experience with this reform. Today, a large number of jawans are in their 30s and officers are getting command much later," said Lieutenant General Anil Puri, Additional Secretary, Department of Military Affairs, at a press briefing. The statement comes at a time when country-wide protests are going on against the scheme.
No discrimination against Agniveers in service conditions: Puri
"Around 17,600 people are taking premature retirement from the three services every year. No one ever tried to ask them what they will do after retirement," Puri said. "The 'Agniveers' would get the same allowance in areas like Siachen and other areas which are applicable to the regular soldiers serving at present. No discrimination against them in service conditions," he added.
Registration for first batch of Agniveers beginning from June 24
Lieutenant General Puri stated the first intake of troops under the Agnipath plan will be 50,000-60,000, with a future rise to one lakh. "We've started small at 46,000 to analyze the scheme and to build up capacity," he said. Registration for the first batch of Agniveers will begin on Friday (June 24), and the phase one online test procedure will begin on July 24.
Violent protests across the country
Following the scheme's formal launch, there were violent protests around the country. One person was killed in Telangana, and trains and vehicles were set on fire, despite guarantees from the defense minister, home minister, and Army commander. Several student organizations in Bihar have called for a state-wide bandh. The agitation stretched to more states on Saturday, including BJP-ruled Haryana.
What amendments were made to scheme after launch?
Some crucial amendments and additions made to the Agnipath scheme since its inception include the extension of the upper age limit, skill recognition from UGC, priority in giving bank loans, 10% quota in CAPFs and Assam Rifles, and announcement of open schooling certificate.