No change to Army's regimental system: Govt sources

Synopsis

The government on Tuesday unveiled ‘Agnipath’ scheme for the recruitment of soldiers in the Army, Navy and the Air Force largely on a four-year short-term contractual basis, in a major overhaul of the decades-old selection process. Under the scheme, youths between the ages of 17 and a half and 21 years will be inducted into the three services.

Agencies

No change is being done to the Army‘s regimental system under the ‘Agnipath‘ scheme and the numbers of personnel to be recruited in the first year of its roll out would only make up three per cent of the armed forces, government sources said on Thursday amid wide-spread protest against the new model in several parts of the country. The scheme is aimed at increasing opportunities for youths to serve in the armed forces and the recruitment of the personnel under it will be around triple of the current enrolment in the armed forces, they said without specifying the duration of comparison.

The government on Tuesday unveiled the scheme for the recruitment of soldiers in the Army, Navy and the Air Force largely on a four-year short-term contractual basis, in a major overhaul of the decades-old selection process.

Under the scheme, youths between the ages of 17 and a half and 21 years will be inducted into the three services. After completion of the four-year tenure, the scheme provides for retaining 25 per cent of the recruits for regular service.

The personnel to be inducted under the scheme will be called ‘Agniveers’. Several states have witnessed protests against the new scheme. A number of opposition political parties and military experts have also slammed the scheme saying it will adversely impact the functioning of the armed forces.

There were apprehensions that the ‘Agnipath’ scheme would change the composition of several regiments that recruit youths from specific regions as well as castes such as Rajputs, Jats and Sikhs.

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Agnipath scheme: All about Indian Army’s mega recruitment drive

Defence minister Rajnath Singh unveiled the Scheme called ‘Agnipath’ on Tuesday, June 14. Indian military is overhauling its recruitment process for personnel below officer rank. This is being done to deploy fitter, younger troops on its front lines on short contracts of at most four years. We try to explain what the Agnipath scheme for Agniveers is all about. Watch!

“No change is being done to the regimental system. Infact it will be further accentuated because the best of ‘Agniveers’ will be selected, further boosting cohesiveness of the units,” said a source.

On the criticism that the short-duration tenure of ‘Agniveers’ will harm the effectiveness of the armed forces, the sources said such a system exists in several countries, and hence, it is already “tested out and considered best practice for an agile army.

The numbers of ‘Agniveers’ to be recruited in the first year would only make up three per cent of the armed forces, they said, adding their performance will be tested before re-induction into the army after four years.

“Hence Army will get the tested and tried personnel for supervisory ranks,” said the source cited above.

The sources said most armies across the world depend upon their youths and the new scheme will only bring about a right mix of “50 per cent-50 per cent” slowly in a very long run of youngsters and experienced personnel in the supervisory ranks.

The sources said the scheme has been launched following extensive consultations with serving armed forces officers in the last two years.

The proposal has been framed by the Department of Military Officers staffed by military officers, they said.

The sources also rejected criticism that ‘Agniveers’ could be a danger to society after their exit from the armed forces.

“This is an insult to the ethos and values of the Indian armed forces. Youngsters who have worn the uniform for four years will remain committed to the country for the rest of their lives,” claimed the source.

“Even now thousands retire from armed forces with skills, but there have not been any instances of them joining anti-national forces,” it said.

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