Agnipath scheme: Home, Def ministries announce 10% job quota for recruits
New Delhi: Taking yet another step to quell the growing anger among Armed Forces aspirants against the new Agnipath recruitment policy, Union Home minister Amit Shah on Saturday announced that there will be a 10 per cent quota in the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) and Assam Rifles across the country for the Agniveers.
As the protests continued for the fourth day, Defence minister Rajnath Singh held a meeting with the chiefs of the three services — Army Chief General Manoj Pande, Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar and Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhari. There was no official statement about the meeting.
Meanwhile, the Defence ministry also announced 10 per cent reservation in jobs in the ministry and in the Defence Public Sector Undertakings for Agniveers.
The Union Defence minister on Saturday strongly defended the new military recruitment model saying it was announced after wide-ranging consultations including with the ex-servicemen and suggested a misunderstanding is being spread for political reasons.
"It is bringing revolutionary changes in the recruitment process in the armed forces. Some people are spreading misunderstanding about it. Maybe, there could be some confusion among the people as it is a new scheme," Singh said speaking at a media conclave.
The Defence minister said the scheme was announced after around two years of deliberations, including with the ex-servicemen community and a decision was taken based on a consensus.
"We wanted that there is a sense of discipline and pride for the country among the people," he said.
Shah announced on Twitter that the Home ministry "decides to reserve 10% vacancies for recruitment in CAPFs and Assam Rifles for Agniveers." He also added that the ministry has decided to "give 3 years age relaxation beyond the prescribed upper age limit to Agniveers for recruitment in CAPFs & Assam Rifles."
In line with the one-time age relaxation of two years announced by the Defence ministry for this year, allowing people up to the age of 23 years to be eligible under the Agnipath scheme, Shah also maintained that "for the first batch of Agniveer, the age relaxation will be for 5 years beyond the prescribed upper age limit."
At present, jawans between the age of 18 and 23 years are recruited into the paramilitary forces.
The Home ministry's announcement is seen as a part of a slew of measures taken by the government to allay the concerns raised by youths protesting across the country against the scheme. They have also torched public and private property and attacked BJP offices in some places.
The Finance ministry held a meeting with the heads of public sector banks and financial institutions to explore employment opportunities for 'Agniveers' in their respective organisations.
It was also decided that banks would explore possibilities of supporting 'Agniveers' through suitable credit facilities for skill up-gradation, education for setting up businesses and taking up self-employment.
The Skill Development ministry had said the 'Agnipath' scheme will create a large pool of skilled youths who can contribute to India's overall defence preparedness as well as the growth of the economy.
"Skill India and Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship will work collaboratively with various wings of the Armed Forces to train the students in additional skills to make them better suited to these job roles," an official statement had said. Besides, all 'Agniveers' will get Skill India certification while in service which will enable them to pursue many diverse opportunities in entrepreneurship and job roles that are being created in the economy after completion of their tenure, it added.
Several BJP-ruled states like Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Assam have also announced various measures to encourage the youth to apply under the Agnipath scheme and assured them reservation in their states.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said the 'Agniveers' will be given priority in police and related services.
Similar announcements were made by Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar who said his government will give preference to the 75 per cent of soldiers who come back after four years as soldiers and seek government jobs.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced the state will give such retired soldiers priority in the state police jobs. Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma also said the retired soldiers will be given preference in the state police job.
The monthly salary of an 'Agniveer' in the first year of employment would be Rs 30,000 and the in-hand amount would be Rs 21,000 as Rs 9,000 would go to a corpus with an equal contribution from the government.
Subsequently, the monthly salary in the second, third and fourth year will be Rs 33,000, Rs 36,500 and Rs 40,000.
Each 'Agniveer' will get an amount of Rs 11.71 lakh as 'Seva Nidhi Package' and it will be exempted from income tax. The four-year tenure under the new scheme will include around two-and-half months to six months of training periods.
Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Saturday said the PSUs under his Housing and Petroleum ministries are working on hiring 'Agniveers' after their four-year service in the armed forces. Puri defended the Agnipath scheme and said: "This is a great scheme. I can say this on record that many PSUs under my ministries are already working on (hiring) trained manpower (Agniveers)... their skills can be utilised in PSUs."
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.