Agneepath is a pilot, makes changes when needed after 4-5 years: Army Chief

Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen BS Raju said on Monday that Agnipath The recruitment plan has been “thought-out”, and if any changes are needed, they will be done at the end of four or five years.

in an interview to Indian Express which day Army releases notification for mandatory online registration All Agneepath job aspirants, Lt Gen Raju, said the scheme, as it is being rolled out now, is a “pilot project”. He said Agneepath marks a “fundamental change” in recruitment in the armed forces and there is a “need” for all to “absorb the change”.

VCOAS’s remarks come in the wake of violent protests against the Agneepath scheme in different parts of the country. Youth who have been waiting to join the military since 2020 – the year recruitment was put on hold – have turned furious against the new scheme, which would only be in limited numbers, and assured permanent jobs, or pensions and health. does not give Benefits for those exiting three services after four years.

VCOAS’s remarks come in the wake of violent protests against the Agneepath scheme in different parts of the country. (File/ANI)

“The method of recruitment, percentage of retention-extension, anything of that nature, if any changes need to be made, it will be done at the end of four to five years, once we have some proper data. Right now, we have a policy which has been well considered, and which we are implementing,” Raju said.

Asked why the armed forces didn’t do a pilot project that would have previously provided this data, he said: “What we are doing is actually a pilot project … the rate at which it is happening, yes , it’s supposed to be a pilot project. We wouldn’t have called it a pilot project. But this, it’s a work-in-progress. So what we’re doing is really a pilot project of some sort, but with very clear timelines Simultaneously, the Government has repeatedly stated that they are liable for amendments based on our experience.

He said he would not be able to predict what could actually be done. “Based on our experience of this, in four to five years, necessary changes will be brought in. (tweaks) can be on any front. ,

Raju said that the regiment change would be very slow and there were no plans to eliminate the homogeneous units immediately. “We are in no hurry to change anything along these lines,” he said, responding to criticism that the fight so far built on the uniformity of the ‘all India, all sections’ recruited personnel would undermine the unity of the units.

He rejected the suggestion that the announcement of a policy for re-employment of former firefighters was followed by a series of announcements – 10 per cent reservation in the Central Armed Police Forces; 10 per cent in Coast Guard and Defense PSUs; Two years relaxation in upper age limit; The preference for firefighters in the state police services—indicating that the policy was not well-considered.

“I do not agree with your argument that this (policy-making) is happening. Because the change and announcement that has happened is from 21 to 23 years, the rest are some proposals coming from different establishments to give more strength to the program which was announced by the government to take care of 75 percent Is. people who are leaving. So this is an add-on which the government had already thought of (providing),” he said.

This includes a service fund tax-free financial package of Rs 11.71 lakh, in addition to Rs 11.72 lakh as their salary for four years. Raju said, “So, a young boy who comes to the age of 18, goes back after four years with around Rs 24 lakh.” The government has also said that a former Agniveer can take a loan of Rs 18 lakh over a period of three years, using the service fund package as collateral.

“So after that, we thought – and we still believe – that he got many opportunities outside. It’s not designed to give him a pension at the end of four years, it’s made to make him a more capable boy. The more capable people that are placed within the system, the balance of people with a ton of different skills, whether it comes in infantry, EME, signals, engineers, each one has got into the system, giving it a unique set of skills. So for these people, we said that this kind of money would give them another option, either a secondary option for studies – he goes from class 10 to class 12 (at the end of four years) They also give him several skill certificates as per the NSQ (National Skill Qualification) format. Hence, that prepares him to move on to the next stage of life. And earlier, (we thought) that was enough. Now new to the environment Feedback has come that they need a government job.But this was not the objective, the aim was to provide them with skills and bring them in an environment where they get many opportunities in front of them, to become an entrepreneur themselves. For this,” Raju said in defense of the plan.

Implementation was going to be slow, he pointed out, with 40,000 this year, the same number in 2023, rising to 45,000 in 2024 and 50,000 in 2025.

“So the number of Agniveers coming into the system is going to be very less. Also, if any changes need to be made, we will do that. So in an infantry battalion of 880 men, at the end of four years we would have 120 (agnivars). So in a segment, we can have only one to two persons. This is the rate of change. Four years from now, for the first time, 75 percent of Agniveers will step out. So we have time to learn along the way, and we will make necessary changes,” he said.

Raju said the scheme was a “fundamental change” in recruitment. “Therefore, we all need to embrace the change. It is to give (a young person) an opportunity to serve the country for four years and get out and do something else. This is not an end in itself,” he said.

Rejecting the allegation of converting the army into a finishing school to impart skills to class 10 graduates, Raju said it was a “wrong” interpretation.

“It’s not like we’re going to give him some extra training or extra skills that’s outside of his job. So if we have one (Agniveer) in the form of an EME guy who is expected to maintain vehicles. It caught on as a skill, so at the end of it he might want to start a workshop of his own, or he might be employed as a supervisor in a workshop, those opportunities open up,” he said.

Raju said the 50 per cent firefighters limit in the army’s composition would ensure balance. The remaining 50 per cent will be the “permanent force”, which will come from 25 per cent deputed from every four-year batch of Agniveers.

The VCOAS said that the number of Agniveers recruited could go up to 1.30 lakh per batch, which means that the number of 25 per cent re-hiring will also increase in the same proportion.

He added that even though the regiments have become more diversified in 10 years, “any form it takes, we are confident that there will still be a very effective fighting force”. He cited the example of “mixed-class” combat weapons that the military now has.

“Even within the Infantry, we have very good examples, be it the Brigade of Guards, the Mahar Regiment or the Parachute Battalion, the Special Forces Battalion. They all blended perfectly and they did a great job. Today we have come to an era where we can go through with full confidence that different types of people can come together and bond and be perfectly good soldiers. ,

“Another example is the Rashtriya Rifles (Anti-Terrorist Force deployed in J&K). When RR came about 30 years ago, there were a lot of apprehensions – how this inspiring group of people from Infantry, ASC, EME, Signals would work together. Today, RR is one of the finest forces, they are reaching insurgency and Line of Control, and line of actual control, So, we have great examples of people like this coming together.”

Raju said that contrary to fears that ‘all-India, all-class’ recruitment would skew the number of recruits in favor of some states, “the mandate of change is that (recruitment) should spread across the country” and gradually Slowly changing from present rapid density in particular areas to all parts of India.

“From high-density recruitment areas, gradually, it will decrease, so that people from under-represented states (can also enter). But this is also subject to the states being able to contribute. There is a possibility that we may move to a particular area where we do not have adequate representation, but we may not get a response from there. So we will continue to take from places where there is already enough availability. So that a little management of the environment can be done.”

He also said that there are concerns about the rivalry between the Agniveers about who to stay and who to leave at the end of four years. “Competition is not new to the system. Having said this, we are also saying that the man who is going out is being given proper grounds to start his second innings.

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