Considered a “major defence policy reform”, the Agnipath scheme announced by the Union Government on June 14 would have equal opportunity for women to join the armed forces and the recruitment would be on an “All India All Class” basis.
Speaking to the media in Gandhinagar on Wednesday, Air Marshal Vikram Singh, AVSM, VSM and AOC-in-C South Western Air Command stated, “The entry condition is the same for all, irrespective of gender, caste, class or region, there is no reservation.”
He said, “As for women, the Air Chief has given in-principle approval to enrol women also, but it is a work in progress. It’ll happen in time, we are working out the modalities on how to do it.”
Agnipath is a short service recruitment scheme in the armed forces for youth in the age group of 17 years and 21 years and those who are selected will be called Agniveers.
Air Marshal Vikram Singh said, “The Agniveer will exit after four years and go out with much greater skills than they would’ve gotten anywhere else. They are different human beings after four years. We will issue them the certificates for it.”
He informed that once selected, the aspirants will undergo training for six months and will then be deployed for three-and-a-half years. During this period, they will get a starting salary of Rs 30,000, along with additional benefits which will go up to Rs 40,000 by the end of the four-year service.
During this period, 30 per cent of their salary will be set aside under a Seva Nidhi programme, and the government will contribute an equal amount every month, and it will accrue interest.
At the end of the four years, each soldier will get Rs 11.71 lakh as a lump sum amount, which will be tax-free. They will also get a Rs 48-lakh life insurance cover for four years. In case of death, the payout will be over Rs 1 crore, including pay for the unserved tenure.
Air Marshal Vikram Singh said, “The boy who does not join might have a BSC degree with him but the boy who decides to come and become an Agniveer, will have a special certificate and a skillset which nobody can possess. Moreover, military training is valued everywhere.”
“There are also some inputs that the home ministry will also give some sort of preference to those passed out from this scheme in the recruitment of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF). So, the Agniveers will be at an advantage,” he added.
He also said the armed forces recruitment will happen through the Agnipath scheme only, there is no other form of recruitment.
“The current recruitment system has been going on for years and is almost as old as World War 2. The system has worked in the past, but the current young generation has much higher knowledge in the field of information technology and communications. It is also felt that by 2030 as much as 50 per cent of our population will be less than 25 years of age,” Air Marshal Vikram Singh said.
“Moreover, not everyone wants to dedicate their whole life to the service of the nation, and a few want to serve and garner that experience, this scheme is beneficial for those. People have been saying to us over the years that they will love to join the armed forces but I cannot give my full life to it. This short service will help here.”
Enrolment for the scheme will be undertaken through an online centralised system for all three services with specialised rallies and campus interviews from recognised technical institutes such as Industrial Training Institutes and National Skills Qualifications Framework, among others, he informed.
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