Agnipath scheme protests enter day 4: A rough turn; Govt announces job reservations for Agniveers

A senior veteran stated that “the culture of units in the Indian Army will be undermined by cutthroat competition and opportunism.

agnipath protest
The government has been in discussion with all the ministries to ensure those eligible get a job after being relieved from the services. (PTI)

Amidst the growing protests across the country related to the recently announced “Agnipath” recruitment scheme, on Saturday afternoon the government approved 10 percent jobs in Indian Coast Guard, 16 DPSUs and Defence and Civilian Posts. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) issued an official statement dated June 18, 2022, stating these 10 percent jobs will be in addition to the existing reservations for ex-servicemen and necessary age relaxation provision will also be made for the Agniveers to avail these job openings.

Defence Minister Approves

The approval for 10 per cent reservation in job vacancies for the Agniveers who meet the eligibility criteria in various departments/branches in the Ministry of Defence was approved by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday. Besides the defence secretary and top brass of the Ministry of Defence, the three service chiefs were all present in the meeting with the Defence Minister.

As reported in Financial Express Online earlier, the government has been in discussion with all the ministries to ensure those eligible for various posts with different skills get a job after being relieved from the services.

It is day four and the protests continue across the country related to the scheme announced that only 25 percent will get retained in the regular service and the balance 75 percent will be relieved.

According to reports, the government is also talking with various state governments to ensure that the new recruitment scheme – Agnipath which is replacing the legacy model for the Indian Armed Forces is not only attractive but also viable.

After fulfilling the medical and physical criteria for the recruitment in the Indian Army and Navy and Air Force respectively, these young men and women will join the three services as Agniveers for four years.

At the end of four years around 25 per cent are expected to be retained in the regular services and the rest will be out and to ensure jobs for the balance 75 percent the government today has asked the Indian Coast Guard, DPSUs, Civilian and Defence jobs.

Which are the 16 DPSUs?

According to the MoD statement they will get a chance to work in:  Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers (GRSE) Limited, Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL), Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL), Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders (MDL), Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML), Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL), India Optel Limited (IOL) and Troop Comforts Limited (TCL), Mishra Dhatu Nigam (MIDHANI) Limited, Armoured Vehicles Nigam Limited  (AVNL), Yantra India Limited (YIL), Gliders India Limited (GIL),  Advanced Weapons & Equipment India Ltd. (AW&EIL),  and Munitions India Limited (MIL).

To implement these new amendments related to recruitment will be undertaken soon and all the 16 DPSUs will be asked to make changes in the rules related to recruitment.

What could have been done?

A senior veteran who wished to remain anonymous while sharing his views stated that “the culture of units in the Indian Army will be undermined by cutthroat competition and opportunism, which will emerge as a result of the need to survive. Therefore, the government should create a standardized admission exam. At the very least, ensure a lasting career for the promising; otherwise, we will just get chaff.”

Change is good…

“The most important factor to consider is to make their move to other employment or occupational paths more formalized,” the Indian Army veteran said.

Adding, “Most concerns can be alleviated by making information available to the public.”

“Do we want to see hordes of young “ex-Agniveers” pulling rickshaws, automobiles, and standing as private ill-paid/treated security guards, in terms of the services’ prestige? As his former company/battalion commander, I feel heartbroken at this state of affairs for a soldier who, even if for just four years, stood shoulder to shoulder with me in the operating field,” he opined.

Ministry of Home Affairs announces relaxation

On early Saturday morning, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) announced a three years age relaxation which is above the prescribed upper age limit for the Agniveers to be recruited in CAPF and Assam Rifles. And also for the first batch of Agniveers who join the paramilitary forces and Assam Rifles, the age relation will be for five years which is more than that prescribed upper age limit.

Private Sector

Besides various ministries and DPSUs, the government has been in talks with various public sector banks, financial institutions, as well as insurance companies exploring suitable opportunities for the Agniveers at the end of four years.  Of course the recruitments will be based on their qualifications and skills and relaxations.

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