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Business News/ News / India/  Agnipath scheme: Govt releases fact sheet as protests erupt across country

Agnipath scheme: Govt releases fact sheet as protests erupt across country

Several aspirants are unhappy with the changes introduced under the new recruitment scheme for the Indian Army, particularly the length of service, no pension provisions for those released early, and the 17.5 to 21-year age restriction

Army aspirants protest against the Agnipath recruitment scheme (ANI)Premium
Army aspirants protest against the Agnipath recruitment scheme (ANI)

As scores of defence job aspirants protest against the Centre's Agnipath scheme, the government has unofficially released a fact sheet on the programme to bust myths and placate the agitators. 

Several aspirants are unhappy with the changes introduced under the new recruitment scheme for the Indian Army, particularly the length of service, no pension provisions for those released early, and the 17.5 to 21-year age restriction. 

Addressing some of these concerns, the government has informed that Agniveers – recruits in the Agnipath scheme – will get a financial package and bank loan scheme if they wish to be entrepreneurs.

“For those wishing to study further, they will be given class 12 equivalent certificate and bridging course. For those wishing to obtain jobs, they will be given priority in CAPFs and state police," read the fact sheet. 

"Several avenues are also being opened up for them in other sectors," it added.

It also denied that the opportunities for the youth will reduce as a result of the scheme. "In the coming years, recruitment of Agniveers will be around triple of the current recruitment in armed forces," it said.

The document also refuted the claim that the new recruitment structure would affect regimental bonding. "No change is being done to the regimental system. In fact, it will be further accentuated because the best of Agniveers will be selected, further boosting the cohesiveness of the unit," it said. 

Responding to doubts on the effectiveness of the armed forces if the scheme is implemented, the government has clarified that the number of Agniveers to be recruited in the first year would only make up 3% of the armed forces.

"Additionally, the performance of the Agniveers will be tested before re-induction in the army after four years. Hence, Army will get tested and tried personnel for supervisory ranks," it said.

“Such short-term enlistment system exists in most countries and hence is already tested out and considered best practice for youthful and agile army," it added. 

The government also responded to the criticism that 21-year-olds are immature and unreliable for the army.

It said that most armies across the world depend upon their youths. “At no point of time will there be more youngsters than experienced people. 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," it said. 

The government also responded to the issue of unemployed 21-year-old youths with professional arms training being vulnerable to joining terrorist groups. 

It termed it "an insult to the ethos and values of the Indian armed forces". 

“Youngsters who have worn the uniform for four years will remain committed to the country for the rest of their lives. Even now thousands retire from armed forces with skills etc but there have not been any instances of them joining anti-national forces," it said. 

Many former officers of the Indian armed forces had raised concerns that they were not consulted before the scheme was announced. 

To this, the government said: “Extensive consultations with serving armed forces officer for last two years. The proposal has been framed by the Department of Military Officers staffed by Military officers."

“The department itself is a creation of this government. Many former officers have recognized the advantages of the scheme and welcomed it," it added. 

Protests in Bihar, Rajasthan 

This comes after three trains were set on fire in Bihar as protests against the Agnipath scheme turned violent in the Chhapra, Gopalganj and Kaimur districts on Thursday.

Agitations have spilled over to several districts as youths protested by lying down on the railway tracks, and blocking roads, demanding the scrapping of the scheme.

"They are protesting on the railway tracks. We are trying to pacify them. We are making an effort to clear the railway track. We are monitoring the situation," said Rakesh Kumar, the superintendent of police, Kaimur.

Huge crowds gathered in the Chhapra, Jehanabad, Munger and Nawada areas of Bihar, demanding the withdrawal of the Agnipath scheme.

A group of army aspirants protested at Bhabua Road Railway Station and blocked the tracks before setting a train on fire.

"We prepared for a long and now they have brought ToD (Tour of Duty) as a four-year job. We want the old recruitment process back," protesters said.

In Rajasthan, aspirants led by the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) staged protests. 

Job aspirants and RLP activists took out protest rallies in Jodhpur, Sikar, Jaipur, Nagaur, Ajmer and Jhunjhunu districts. Additional police forces were deployed at these protest centres

RLP convenor and Nagaur MP Hanuman Beniwal had announced on Wednesday to protest against the scheme at all district headquarters of the state and submit a memorandum seeking withdrawal of the scheme.

He also demanded the Centre to start Army recruitment rallies and give two-year age relaxation to the aspirants.






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Published: 16 Jun 2022, 04:32 PM IST
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