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No change in Agnipath recruitment process, regimental process to be unchanged: Department of Military Affairs

The training of first Agniveers will begin this December (in 2022) at the centres. The active service will commence in the middle of 2023

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New Delhi: As protests against the Agnipath scheme continued, the Department of Military Affairs on Tuesday clarified that there is no change in the recruitment process and the regimental process will be unchanged.

This comes amidst protests that erupted in several states after the centre unveiled the Agnipath scheme last Tuesday. Under the scheme, people between 17.5 and 21 years will be recruited in the armed forces for a four-year period, followed by compulsory retirement for most without gratuity and pension benefits. Later, the government extended the upper age limit to 23 years for recruitment in 2022. On Sunday, the Indian Armed Forces– Army, Navy and the Air Force– announced a broad schedule for recruitment of soldiers under the Agnipath scheme.

Addressing a presser, Additional Secretary of the Department of Military Affairs, Lieutenant General Anil Puri said, “There is no change in the recruitment process. The regimental process will be unchanged. We will take an undertaking and aspirants have to submit a pledge that they were not involved in any arson/vandalism.”

Highlighting that the Agnipath scheme balances three core elements, the DMA official said, “Agnipath scheme balances three things. Firstly, it will ensure youthful profile of the armed forces. Secondly, it will ensure technical savvy and adaptable people joining the Army. Thirdly, it will make the individuals future-ready.”

National Security Advisor Ajit Doval on Tuesday said to ANI that “It is a paradox that India’s youngest population has the oldest army. A nation with a huge population around the age of 25 years has the oldest army.”

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Reacting to this, the DMA official said, “No other country in the world has the demographic dividend as that of India. 50 per cent of our youth is under the age group of 25 years. The Army should make the most of it. We have to be reflective of this demographic dividend.”

Department of Military Affairs also sharply reacted to protests raging in parts of the country over the scheme. Lt General Anil Puri said, “This is a matter of the security of our nation. Someone spread the rumour that old-timers of the Army will be sent to the Agniveer scheme. This is proven to be a piece of fake information.”

On June 17, the three chiefs of Indian Defence services hailed the decision of the Central government to approve the Agnipath Scheme, a recruitment process for Indian youth to serve in the Armed Forces.

“The Government has announced Agnipath scheme under which youth will be able to join armed forces. The age criteria will be 17.5 to 21 years.

Happy to announce that for the first recruitment, the upper age limit has been revised to 23 years. It will benefit the youth. Air Force recruitment will begin on June 24,” the Indian Air Force chief, Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari said in a virtual address on Friday.

The Indian Army chief General Manoj Pande, in an exclusive interaction with ANI, informed that the training of first Agniveers will begin this December.

“As far as the question of Agniveers going to recruitment training centres is concerned, the training of first Agniveers will begin this December (in 2022) at the centres. The active service will commence in the middle of 2023,” said General Pande.

Lt Gen Manoj Pande

Agnipath Scheme, which was approved by the cabinet on June 14, was launched in an effort to bring a change in the recruitment process of the Armed Forces. With the new military recruitment scheme facing criticism, the Centre has decided to bring a change in the upper age limit for recruiting Agniveers.

Chief of Naval Staff Admiral R Hari Kumar termed the Agnipath scheme as “one of the most transformational schemes for the armed forces.”
Granting a one-time waiver, the Centre on June 16, 2022, announced that the Agniveer upper age limit for recruitments via Agnipath Scheme has been extended to 23 years from 21 years.

Indian Air Force also appreciated the government for increasing the upper age limit to 23 from 21 for recruitment under the Agnipath scheme for the year 2022.

COVID-19 halted the Army’s recruitment for over two years. In 2019-2020, the Army recruited jawans and there has been no entry since then. On the other hand, the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force had both recruited in the last two years respectively.

 

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