MoD in consultations with all sectors on Agnipath Scheme


Kolkata, June 14: The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has already started discussions with the Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) and the private sector to grant preference during recruitment to the first lot of ‘Agniveers’ who would have completed their four-year-term in the Indian Armed Forces about five years from now. According to a highly placed source in the MoD, talks will also be held with state governments to recruit ‘Agniveers’ in appropriate positions.

“The Agnipath Scheme is a very bold concept that could benefit the nation if all sectors get involved. Of those recruited under this scheme, most would be disciplined, battle-hardened soldiers by the time they leave. Such people, who would be barely 22-26 years old then, could be easily recruited in the Central Armed Police Forces or by states as policemen. There would also be technicians — many of them ITI Diploma holders with hands on experience — who could be recruited by the private sector. Only then, will it be a win-win situation for all,” the MoD official said.

Under the Agnipath Scheme, the Indian Army, Indian Air Force and Indian Navy will recruit soldiers, airmen and sailors for a period of four years initially. These recruits, to be called ‘Agniveers’, will receive extensive training and serve under harsh conditions. At the end of four years, they would get an option to leave or continue in service. Their re-induction in the Armed Forces would depend on vacancies and their performance. In that way, many leaving after four years would be good performers who had to be released due to a lack of vacancies.

“That is where the PSUs, private sector organisations and state governments will have to pitch in. We will have a force of motivated, highly disciplined and trained workforce on our hands. These youths will seek re-employment fast or get frustrated. And the last thing one wants in any society is a group of frustrated youth, trained in combat, without jobs. Even now, we find that state governments aren’t fulfilling their commitments about filling up quotas for ex-servicemen. The private sector outsources jobs and ex-servicemen end up as security guards, earning barely Rs 10,000 a month. This will no longer work,” an official at the Kendriya Sainik Board said.

There are Rajya Sainik Boards under state governments that work towards providing suitable jobs to ex-servicemen, some of who retire when they are barely 40-years-old now. Many are medics and some are drivers with excellent skills.

“Many of them return to villages after retirement. Such people can be employed at rural health centres as paramedics and as ambulance drivers. They are highly skilled and motivated. They want to be recruited on a contractual basis. But, we find nepotism everywhere. If this continues, the Agnipath Scheme is bound to fail. Banks will also have to be more active to grant loans to those who wish to set up their own businesses. The ‘Agniveers’ will require special status,” a Rajya Sainik Board official said.