NEW DELHI: The radical Agnipath recruitment scheme for the armed forces, which was unveiled by the Centre on Tuesday, has sparked a series of protests in several parts of the country.
The scheme aims to enroll youths, who will be called ‘Agniveers‘, for a service duration of four years. After the completion of their tenure, 25% of Agniveeers will be retained or re-enlisted in the regular cadre while the remaining 75% will be demobilised with an exit package.
The protesters say the plan will limit opportunities for permanent jobs with the defence forces, which guarantee fixed salaries, pensions and other benefits.
While the Centre has explained that the youths will get a generous exit package (Rs 11.71 lakh) after four years and priority in government services (read CAPFs, state police forces), the anti-Agnipath protesters remain unconvinced.
In an effort to quell the unrest, the Centre has introduced several changes to the new model since the initial announcement. Here’s a look at them …
Rajnath Singh approves reservation for Agniveers
Union defence minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday approved a proposal to reserve 10% of the job vacancies in ministry of defence for ‘Agniveers’ meeting requisite eligibility criteria.
“The 10% reservation will be implemented in the Indian Coast Guard and defence civilian posts, and all the 16 Defence Public Sector Undertakings. This reservation would be in addition to existing reservation for ex-servicemen,” the ministry said on Twitter.
Raksha Mantri Shri @rajnathsingh has approved a proposal to reserve 10% of the job vacancies in Ministry of Defence… https://t.co/dYjN2SLgv8
— रक्षा मंत्री कार्यालय/ RMO India (@DefenceMinIndia) 1655543269000
“Necessary amendments to relevant recruitment rules will be undertaken to implement these provisions. Defence Public Sector Undertakings will be advised to make similar amendments to their respective recruitment rules. Necessary age relaxation provision will also be made,” another tweet posted on Saturday read.
10% reservation for Agniveers in CAPF, Assam Rifles
The Union ministry of home affairs (MHA) earlier on Saturday announced a 10% quota as well as upper age limit relaxation for Agniveers for recruitment in the Central Armed Paramilitary Forces (CAPFs) and Assam Rifles, after they complete their four-year stint.
Relaxation of upper age limit for Agniveers
On Saturday, the MHA had also announced a three-year age relaxation beyond the prescribed upper age limit for Agniveers for recruitment in CAPF and Assam Rifles.
According to the announcement, the upper age limit for the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) – inclusive of Border Security Force (BSF), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), National Security Guard (NSG) and Special Protection Group (SPG) – will now stand at 26 years.
Age relaxation for first Agniveer batch
Further, the first batch of Agniveers will avail a relaxation of five years beyond the upper age limit of 23, taking it to 28 years.
The latest set of announcements by the MHA are aimed at 75% of the Agniveers who will be demobilised after serving in the armed forces for four years.
Upper age limit relaxed to 23
Earlier on Thursday, the government had increased the upper-age limit for recruitment under the Agnipath scheme to 23 years from 21 years for the year 2022.
“Cognisant of the fact that it has not been possible to undertake the recruitment during the last two years, the government has decided that a one-time waiver shall be granted for the proposed recruitment cycle for 2022,” according to a statement issued by the defence ministry.
“Accordingly, the upper age limit for the recruitment process for Agnipath scheme for 2022 is increased to 23 years,” the statement said.
Amit Shah announced priority for Agniveers
A day after the scheme was announced, Union home minister Amit Shah had on Wednesday announced that his ministry has decided to give priority to ‘Agniveers’ who have completed four years under the ‘Agnipath’ scheme in the recruitment of the CAPFs and Assam Rifles.
Shah said a “detailed planning” work has been started in MHA following the decision.
Shah took Twitter to make the announcement while welcoming the said scheme.
Recruitment in Merchant Navy
The Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways (MoPSW) on Saturday announced six service avenues for smooth transition of Agniveers in various roles of the Merchant navy, post their stint with the Indian Navy.
According to an official statement, the scheme will enable Agniveers to acquire necessary training, with naval experience and professional certification to join the remunerative merchant navy across the world.
According to the statement, these schemes for Agniveers include transition from ratings in Indian Navy to certified ratings in Merchant Navy, transition from electrical ratings in Indian Navy to certified electro-technical ratings in Merchant Navy, transition from ratings in Indian Navy to certified class IV-NCV CoC holder in Merchant Navy. Besides, transition from electrical ratings in Indian Navy to certified electro technical officers in Merchant Navy and transition from cook in Indian Navy to certified cook in Merchant Navy. The statement said some of the schemes are devised for Agniveers with a diploma in mechanical or electrical engineering or ITI trade certificate in electronic or Electrical stream – either joining with these qualifications or acquiring these during their tenure with the Indian Navy.
It said the MoPSW will issue Indian National Database of Seafarers’ (INDOS) and Continuous Discharge Certificate (CDC) for those Agniveers who intend to explore in any of the said schemes through Indian Navy.
NIOS to facilitate 12th pass certificate
The department of school education, through its autonomous institution — the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) — announced that it will institute a special programme in consultation with defence authorities to enable Agniveers who are 10th pass to further their education and obtain a 12th class pass certificate by developing customised courses.
Degree programme for Agniveers
The ministry of education has decided to launch a special three-year skill based bachelor’s degree programme for serving defence personnel that will recognise the skill training received by them during their tenure in the defence establishments to enhanced the future career prospects of Agniveers and to equip them for various job roles in the civilian sector.
Sources said the programme has been designed by IGNOU and will also be executed by them. “50% of the credits required for a graduate degree will come from skill training received by the Agniveer. The remaining 50% will come from a basket of courses,” the sources said.
Skill development for jobs
Skill India and the ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship will work collaboratively with the Armed Forces to train students in additional skills to make them better suited for civilian jobs.
In order to identify ways in which the banks and financial institutions can support Agniveers on completion of their tenure, the department of financial services held a meeting with chief executives of public sector banks, public sector insurance firms and financial institutions.
“In the meeting, it was decided that the firms would explore employment opportunities for Agniveers in suitable capacities based on their educational qualifications and skills,” said sources.
It was also decided that banks would explore possibilities of supporting Agniveers through suitable credit facilities for skill upgradation and education.
Preferential recruitment in state police forces
Several state governments have announced that Agniveers, after serving the Armed Forces for four years, will be given preference in filling of vacancies in state police forces.
The state police forces will greatly benefit from the training and discipline inculcated to Agniveers by the armed forces and their capabilities in tackling insurgency, naxalism and natural disasters will be hugely augmented, the BJP-led state governments said.
(With inputs from agencies)