With many states in the grip of violence, following the announcement of the “Agnipath’’ scheme for recruiting youth in the Indian Armed Forces, late Thursday night the government decided to give a one time waiver in upper age relaxation.
Why the turmoil?
“The youth in India have Defense Services as their first career option. The pandemic and the revision of recruitment policy in the defense services had led to the freeze on recruitment over the last two years. While it can be understood that revising a policy document is not easy, as getting consensus remains a time-consuming process; it is not understood that those in the decision-making were ignorant of ground realities,” opines Lt Col Manoj Manoj K Channan, Indian Army Veteran.
Adding, “Many veterans who had their ears close to the grassroots level had been writing/ tweeting and speaking about this issue to be heard by the policymakers.”
What has the Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said?
Following the late night announcement Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday afternoon (June 17, 2022) inviting the youth to join the armed forces and serve the nation through Agnipath said: “The government has announced a one time upper age relaxation for the recruitment process for 2022. It is now 23 years.”
Adding, that the relaxation in age is an indication the government cares for the youth and the Department of Military Affairs (DMA), Services and Ministry of Defence are ready to start the process at the earliest.
Statement of the Indian Army Chief as shared by the MoD
The Indian Army Chief General Manoj Pande on Thursday afternoon announced that the government’s decision to give a one time waiver for increasing the age limit to 23 years has been received. This is for the recruitment cycle of 2022.
Welcoming the youth to join the Indian Army as “Agniveers, the Army Chief has said that the recruitment schedule is going to be announced shortly.
The upper age limit has been revised in an effort to give an opportunity to the youth who despite COVID pandemic had been preparing to join the recruitment rallies which could not be organized due to the global pandemic.
What led to the government’s decision to raise the age limit?
Widespread violence across the country in which trains were sent on fire, buses, police vehicles and personnel were attacked, leaving many injured.
Many electronic media channels too had called representatives of the Indian Armed Forces to their prime-time discussions in support of these aspirants.
Late night the Ministry of Defence issued a statement announcing that the age limit has been raised for the Agnipath recruitment.
The statement read: “Cognizant 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.”
View of an Indian Army Veteran
Sharing his views with Financial Express Online, Lt Col Manoj K Channan, Indian Army Veteran says “Consequent to the release of the Agniveer recruitment policy, it is evident that the larger viewpoint of the aspirants was not taken into consideration thus allowing the various ex-servicemen forum to air their views opposing the scheme.
The fact that the decision-makers are closely watching the situation and have been quick to make changes in the policy is to be appreciated. This perhaps is the first one, as the policy is implemented the teething problems will have to be addressed as quickly as this one.”
Why were the ground realities not taken into consideration?
Lt Col Channan quotes senior veteran Brig Rumel Dahiya, Deputy Director General at the Institute of Defence Studies & Analyses, and the Coordinator of the Military Affairs Centre “Could this social problem not have been foreseen? Were the decision makers blind to reality? Youth spend years preparing; regular running, consuming ghee and milk and practicing paper solving- to appear for recruitment tests. First keep them hanging for a year and half and then declare them overage? For many families it is loss of hope, denial of a decent life. The bigger social problem that we refuse to anticipate now is the gang wars involving Agni Veers after 5-6 years. Let us get real. It’s not a trivial matter and answers will have to be found. Glib talk about rioters being unfit for Fauj is just that. Do we expect a killer machine out of dead souls with no aspirations? Violence is not acceptable but take measures well in time so that it does not erupt. Demographic dividend must not be permitted to become a curse. Why cannot these people be laterally inducted; except those with serious discipline cases or those displaying cowardice? There is logic behind militaries preparing for the worst. There is no consolation prize for the loser”.
“The Military advice to the political leadership, on implementation challenges and issues of government orders by the bureaucracy, would ensure that the Commanding Officers are not stressed out in tackling these issues in addition to their primary tasks at the IB/LoC/LAC or in peacetime tenures,” opines Lt Col Channan.
In his view, “Challenges in pure caste units/sub-units need to be anticipated and action is taken so that tradition and ethos which build up the “oomph in the serving” is not diminished at the altar of policy implementation.”