Saddened by the violence around the Agnipath scheme, Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra on Monday announced to recruit “trained and capable” Agniveers.
Taking to Twitter, Anand said he is saddened by the violence around the Agnipath program. “Saddened by the violence around the Agneepath program. When the scheme was mooted last year I stated and I repeat-the discipline and skills Agniveers gain will make them eminently employable. The Mahindra Group welcomes the opportunity to recruit such trained, capable young people,” he said in a tweet.
After the Agnipath scheme, which allows Indian youths to serve in the regular cadre of the Armed Forces for a period of four years, was announced on June 14, protests erupted in various states including Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, Telangana, Odisha, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Jharkhand and Assam. As the agitation intensified in some places, protestors went on the rampage setting trains on fire, torching vehicles and damaging both private and public properties.
A total of 46,000 Agniveers will be recruited this year but a top military officer said it will go up to 1.25 lakhs in near future. The entry age for all new recruits in the Armed Forces has been fixed as 17.5 to 21 years of age.
However, following protests, the Central government announced an increase in the upper age limit for the recruitment of Agniveers from 21 years to 23 years for the recruitment cycle of 2022 as it has not been possible to undertake the recruitment during the last two years.
While the government points out that the ‘Agnipath’ scheme gives a golden opportunity to the youth to join the defence system and serve the country, Congress had said the recruitment policy is controversial, carries multiple risks, subverts the long-standing traditions and ethos of the armed forces and there is no guarantee that the soldiers recruited under the scheme will be better trained and motivated to defend the country.
Agniveers will be enrolled for a service duration of 4 years including the training period. After four years, only 25 per cent of the Agniveers will be retained or re-enlisted in the regular cadre based on merit, willingness and medical fitness. These 25 per cent Agniveers will then serve for a full term of another 15 years.
As the protests continue, a senior Army officer on Sunday clarified that the scheme will not be rolled back and said that it is the “only progressive step to make the country young”.
Meanwhile, the registration process for the first batch of Agniveers under the Centre’s new Agnipath recruitment scheme will begin on June 24 and the online examination would be held on July 24.
Congress has urged the government to keep the Agnipath scheme in abeyance, hold wide consultations with serving and retired officers, and address the issues of quality, efficiency and economy without compromising on any of the three considerations.
Addressing the concerns over the future of Agniveers and their job security, the Centre approved a proposal to reserve 10 per cent of the job vacancies in the Ministry of Defence for Agniveers meeting requisite eligibility criteria and also decided to give priority to them in the recruitment of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) and Assam Rifles.
Several state governments like Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Karnataka have announced to give Agniveers priority in state government jobs.
Protests have disrupted rail services in several parts of the country. A total of 491 train services have been affected throughout the country due to the ongoing agitation, informed railway officials on Sunday.