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Congress wants rollback but Agnipath scheme is adding vigour to ‘Nari Shakti’ in Armed Forces

New Delhi, Feb 26, 2024
The Agnipath scheme launched by the Narendra Modi government on June 14, 2022, heralded a ‘refreshing’ change in the Armed Forces, aimed at cutting extra flab and making the 1.4-million-plus security forces leaner and fitter.

The move, hailed as gamechanger by many defence experts, is set to augment India’s defence capabilities and would also add more teeth to the country’s defence preparedness in times of a multi-front war.

The recruitment of soldiers for shorter tenure in the three services of Armed Forces came under fresh attack by Congress on Monday, as party President Mallikarjun Kharge wrote a letter to President Droupadi Murmu, stressing the ‘gross injustice’ meted out to about two lakh men and women, seeking appointment in the Armed Forces.

Kharge in the letter to President Murmu, wrote, “These young men and women had believed that their dreams were awaiting to be fulfilled but that got shattered after the government decided to end this recruitment process and replace it with the Agnipath Scheme.”

The Congress President claimed that Agnipath scheme was creating a ‘parallel and discriminatory’ cadre of soldiers in the Army and will prove ‘detrimental’ in the long run while party spokespersons Sachin Pilot and Deepender Hooda went a step ahead and demanded a rollback and also promised scrapping of policy, if the party is voted to power.

Contrary to Congress’ charges, the Agniveer scheme launched a year ago is only getting ready to reap benefits, as is evident from the numbers.

The Army’s ‘selection programs’ and ‘recruitment rallies’ for hiring Agniveers has turned out be a runaway success as it has seen wide participation of enthusiasts and aspirants. Army aspirants, including men and women have flocked the camps, organised all across the country.

Inducting ‘Nari Shakti’ in defence forces, a key objective of government has also received a boost under the Agnipath scheme. Lot of women Agniveers have been ‘shortlisted’ and are awaiting their first brush with the Armed Forces.

In December 2023, the Indian Air Force inducted its first batch of women Agniveers in non-officer roles, thus marking a new era in gender equality in the Defence forces.

Air Force spokesperson Wing Commander Ashish Moghe told the media how a batch of 153 ‘Agniveervayu’ (women), a part of larger group of 2,280 recruits graduated from the Airmen Training School in Karnataka.

A couple of women have also been inducted as Junior Commissioned Officers. In 2019, the government had set a target of inducting 1,700 women. As many as 100 vacancies of this scheme were covered by the Agniveer recruits.

Indian Navy is also not far in putting the women Agniveers on the forefront. According to reports, more than 1,000 women women Agniveer sailors have been inducted and many of them will be see deployment very soon, as early as next month.

According to top sources in Defence Ministry, some media outlets have reported that three batches of Agniveer have received the go-ahead and the first batch, comprising about 275 women Agniveers will soon head for their respective postings and assignments.

To bring gender parity in the Armed Forces, Modi government has also opened the doors of National Defence Academy for recruiting women. Also, ‘Nari Shakti’ in Armed Forces found a display during 74th Republic Day parade, as women officers led the marching contingents of the Armed Forces, CRPF, Akash missile system and Army’s Daredevil team.

For the unversed, the recruitment for Agniveers is for 4-year-period only, however, there exists probability of their extension for 4 years and also absorption of about 25 per cent of them as ‘permanent soldiers’, for which their skills will serve as the sole parameter.

Remaining 75 per cent of Agniveers will be handed over ‘retirement’ with a severance package that includes a good lump sum payment and monetary assistance for setting up a business or finding new employment.(Agency)

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