A defence tri-service briefing today looked to clear doubts about the new military recruitment scheme 'Agnipath' and explained why the country needs this policy for mass entry to the armed forces.
A large number of soldiers were in their 30s and this age factor had become worrisome, Lieutenant General Anil Puri told reporters today, citing a report by a committee on the 1999 Kargil War.
Lt. General Puri also said the centre did not give concessions in the 'Agnipath' scheme because of protests and arson, but that those were already in the works. He said the 'Agnipath' planners did not anticipate the protests because the armed forces stand for discipline and only disciplined applicants join the former.
The top military officer said the COVID-19 pandemic and the long lockdown allowed the planners to finally make the move to the 'Agnipath' scheme. "There could have been no better time to implement the Agnipath scheme. This was the least painful time (for the switch)," he said.
"We had lengthy discussions on how to make our forces young. We studied foreign forces too. We want young people. Youth are risk takers, they have passion, josh aur hosh in equal proportions," said Lt. General Puri, who is the Additional Secretary in the Department of Military Affairs.
Lieutenant General C Bansi Ponnappa said the rallies for army recruitment will start in the first half of August and the first lot of 'Agniveers' will come in by December first week. The second lot will come by February. The officer said the army will hold 83 recruitment rallies and touch "every village" in the country.
For the navy, the first lot of 'Agniveers' will reach INS Chilka in Odisha for training by November 21.
The air force will enrol the first batch of 'Agniveers' by December this year and training will begin the same month.
Lieutenant General Puri said any candidate who faces a police case cannot apply for 'Agnipath'. "The Agnipath scheme will not be rolled back. Why should it be rolled back?" he said.
The protests, meanwhile, continues in some states, the most intense being in Uttar Pradesh, Telangana and Bihar. The centre has announced several concessions amid the protests. There will be a 10 per cent quota in Defence Ministry jobs, spread across the Coast Guard and defence civilian posts, and all the 16 defence public sector undertakings. This reservation would be in addition to existing reservation for ex-servicemen.
On top of all this, the government announced 10 per cent reservation for 'Agniveers' in the Central Armed Police Forces, or CAPFs, and the Assam Rifles, which comes under the Defence Ministry.