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Agnipath row: Army assures utility of the scheme for jobs

Incidents of arson and protests against the scheme are occurring in Bihar and UP, which see a large share of recruitment for the Indian armed forces.

SNS | Kolkata |

With incidents of arson and protest surrounding the Agnipath scheme of the Indian armed forces, the chief of staff (CoS), Eastern Command of the Indian Army has assured that the four-year scheme will help and prepare the youth with all the necessary skills to secure employment in both government and private sectors.

Addressing a press conference, the CoS, Eastern Command Lt General KK Repswal said that the Agnipath scheme was not devised on an impulse but through long-term deliberations to ensure it is an “informative, modern and a future ready scheme”. The age bar has also been adjusted to help the youth join the forces and serve the country. In the scheme, the increase in technical threshold and wider recruitment base will provide for equal opportunities.

Amid queries about whether such a short-term scheme can compromise the training quality that is maintained by the Indian armed forces, he assured that there has been no dilution of standards in the scheme. “We don’t compromise with professional training.”

Incidents of arson and protests against the scheme are occurring in states such as Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, which see a large share of recruitment for the Indian armed forces. A chunk of recruits in the defence forces hails from these two states. Criticisms are being raised that the scheme is more a bane than a boon since the four-year recruits don’t get the benefits allotted to permanent personnel.

Lt Gen Repswal, however, clearing the air, said, “The skills that will be imparted are not just that they will only be able to utilise during their four-year service. This skill set will help them in seeking employment once they complete their service. We will recruit about 25 per cent of them based on merit through a scientific method of screening. They may also find jobs in government, and in private sectors in entrepreneurial positions.” This scheme also helps create a talent pool for the Indian Army from which it can directly recruit, even in case of war, instead of having to waste any resources, he said. “Soon there will also be opportunities for women in the scheme.”

His statement gets corroborated by the recent remarks of Union home minister Amit Shah, who had announced that the home ministry will look towards developing a model where Agnipath scheme servicemen can be recruited into central forces, including in Assam Rifles.