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Agnipath adds sops but ‘not under pressure’, authority insists

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Announcing a slew of incentives for candidates joining the armed forces via Agnipath, the government today also dealt a death blow to the job aspirations of rioters by saying that the background check of candidates during the recruitment process will disqualify anyone who would be found to have participated in acts of vandalism. The government said further that the Agnipath Recruitment Scheme will not be rolled back — at a press conference addressed by Lt Gen Anil Puri, an additional secretary in the Department of Military Affairs.

“The Indian Army’s foundation lay in discipline. There is no room for arson or vandalism. Every individual will give a certificate that they were not part of protest or vandalism. Police verification is 100%; no one can join without that,” Lt Gen Puri said.

“And if any FIR is lodged against them, they can’t join…They (aspirants) will be asked to write, as part of the enrolment form, they were not part of the arson, their police verification will be done,” the government said.

The government said it “had not anticipated the recent violence over this scheme. There is no place for indiscipline in the armed forces. All candidates will have to give a written pledge that they did not indulge in any arson or violence”, Lt Gen Puri stressed.

Among the new sops that the government insists are not being announced under the pressure of violent demonstrations against Agnipath, the intake of ‘Agniveers’ will go up to 1.25 lakh in the future, the Department of Military Affairs said. “Our intake of ‘Agniveers’ will go up to 1.25 lakhs in near future and will not remain at 46,000 which is the present figure,” he said.

“In the next 4 or 5 years, our intake (of soldiers) will be 50,000-60,000, which will increase to 90,000-1 lakh subsequently. We have started small at 46,000 to analyse the scheme… and to build up infra capacity,” Lt Gen Puri said on behalf of the government.

Including the concessions or compromises announced in the last two days, the fresh sops are:

  1. a 10% reservation in CAPFs and Assam Rifles, with age relaxation of 3 and 5 years respectively for the first batch, as announced yesterday by the Ministry of Home Affairs
  2. a 10% reservation in Coast Guard, civilian defence and 16 public sector units in the defence sector, as announced by the Ministry of Defence yesterday
  3. a recruit via Agnipath can diversify to merchant navy and on doing so, his or her ratings in the Indian Navy will change to certified ratings in the merchant navy, the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways has announced
  4. an Agniveer will get a 12 pass certificate from the National Institute of Open Schooling, the Ministry of Education announced
  5. The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship has announced that an Agniveer (an Agnipath recruit) will be helped with a bridge course that will enable him or her to diversify to a field of his or her choice as per the qualifications that apply
  6. The Ministry of Civil Aviation announced that Agniveers would be eligible to join air traffic control, safety, administration, information technology, communication, supply chain management or maintenance and repair works of the aviation industry

An Agniveer will get a compensation for Rs 1 crore if he sacrifices his life in service of the nation, it was announced.

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An Agniveer 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,” Lt Gen Puri emphasised.

Then followed the part where Lt Gen Puri insisted these announcements are not being made under the pressure of violent agitations. “The announcements regarding the reservations for Agniveers announced by the different ministries and departments was pre-planned and not in reaction to the arson that happened after Agnipath scheme announcement,” he said.

“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 than in the past,” Lt Gen Puri noted, adding, “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.”

“By December first week, we will get the first batch of 25,000 Agniveers and the second batch would be inducted around February 2023 making it 40,000,” Lt Gen Bansi Ponappa said at the press conference.

Joining the presser, Vice Admiral Dinesh Tripathi said that from 21 November, “the first naval ‘Agniveers’ will start reaching the training establishment INS Chilka, Odisha”. Both men and women Agniveers will be entitled for the programme, he said. “The Indian Navy has 30 women officers at present, sailing on different Indian Navy ships. We have decided that under the Agnipath scheme, we will recruit women also. They will be deployed on warships too,” he said.

The process of registration for recruiting Agniveers first batch will start on 24 June and the first phase of online examination process will start on 24 July, said Air Marshal SK Jha at the press conference, adding that the first batch will be enrolled by December and training would commence by 30 December.


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