Agnipath scheme row: Chiefs of three Indian defence services arrive at PM Modi's residence for meeting

Announced by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in the presence of the three service chiefs on June 14, Agnipath scheme provides for recruitment of men and women in the age bracket of 17-and-a-half to 21

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Tuesday, June 21, 2022, 07:54 PM IST
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PM Narendra Modi | PTI

Amid an ongoing controversy over the Agnipath recruitment scheme for the armed forces, chiefs of the three Indian military services arrived at Prime Minister Narendra Modi's residence.

General Manoj Pande of the Indian Army, Admiral Hari Kumar of the Navy, and Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari have over the past week issued statements to allay anxieties of protesting aspirants.

PM Modi, too, without naming the scheme, has said, "Several decisions look unfair at present. In time, those decisions will help in nation-building." He has also said that it is India's "misfortune" that "many good things brought with good intentions get trapped in political colours".

Announced by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in the presence of the three service chiefs on June 14, it provides for recruitment of men and women in the age bracket of 17-and-a-half to 21. The Centre later extended the age limit to 23 years for recruitment this year as there has been no recruitment for the past two years due to the coronavirus pandemic. The plan is to hire around 45,000 soldiers this year across the three services. The Indian Army has already issued a notification saying registration will begin next month.

Meanwhile, National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval in an interview today ruled out any possibility of a rollback, in spite of protests. The scheme is for recruiting 'Agniveer' soldiers on four-year contracts without pension, of whom up to 25 per cent may be given regular commission of 15 years thereafter.

Doval then argued, "We are going toward contactless wars. Technology is taking over... If we have to prepare for tomorrow, then we cannot do things like we did in the past. India has among the youngest populations in the world, so our armed forces cannot continue to have an average age that is among the highest in the world."

On the other hand, a Directorate General of Shipping order issued by the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways will provide Agniveers with the opportunity to join the Merchant Navy directly after completing their four-year training, an Indian Navy official said on Tuesday.

Addressing a presser today, Chief of Personnel (COP) of the Indian Navy, Admiral Dinesh K Tripathi, said, "A DGS order issued by the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways will provide Agniveers with the opportunity to join the Merchant Navy directly after completing their four-year training. A Memorandum of Understanding was also signed between the Indian Navy and the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways to ensure the same." The Indian Navy official highlighted that recruitment under the scheme will start on June 22.

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