Focusing on gender-neutrality in all its branches, the Indian Navy will recruit women sailors through the newly-unveiled Agnipath recruitment scheme and these new recruits will be posted on board warships upon completion of training.
While all the three services - Army, Air Force and Navy - have had women officers, this will be the first time that positions of Personnel Below Officers' Rank (PBOR) will be open to women.
"We are still formulating the exact number of women sailors to be recruited through the Agnipath scheme," Vice Admiral Dinesh K Tripathi, Chief of Personnel said in a tri-service press conference at the Ministry of Defence here on Sunday, adding that the training of the first batch of Agniveers will begin in November this year.
"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 also," he added.
He further informed that the arrangements are being made at INS Chilka in Odisha - the basic training establishment for the Indian Navy, to accommodate the women sailors.
"From November 21 this year, the first naval 'Agniveers' will start reaching the training establishment INS Chilka, Odisha. Both female and male Agniveers are allowed for this," Tripathi said.
Registration process for Agniveers for IAF to begin on June 24
Meanwhile, Air Marshal SK Jha said the registration process for the first batch of Agniveers will begin on June 24 and the online examination would be held on July 24.
Additional Secretary Lt Gen Anil Puri, Department of Military Affairs (DMA) said that the recruitment of soldiers will increase to over one lakh in the future under the Agnipath scheme.
"In next 4-5 years, our intake (of soldiers) will be 50,000-60,000 & will increase to 90,000 - 1 lakh subsequently. We've started small at 46,000 to analyse the scheme...and to build up infra capacity," Lt Gen Anil Puri stated.
The top military officer also said the Agniveers will get compensation for Rs one crore if he sacrifices their life in service of the nation.
"We want a mix of josh and hosh and that is why we wanted to reduce the age profile. The average age is 32 years at present and we want to reduce it as per the recommendations of the Kargil review committee and Arun Singh committee report," Arun Puri said.
The Union Cabinet on June 14 approved a recruitment scheme for Indian youth to serve in the three services of the Armed Forces called Agnipath and the youth selected under this scheme will be known as Agniveers.
Under the scheme, people between the age of 17.5 years and 21 years will be inducted into the services for a four-year tenure. During this period, they will be paid a monthly salary between Rs 30,000-40,000 plus allowances, followed by compulsory retirement for most without gratuity and pension benefits.
However, the government later announced that it has decided to increase the upper age limit for the recruitment of Agniveers from 21 years to 23 years for the recruitment cycle of 2022.