Armed forces draw proposal to absorb 50 per cent more Agniveers

The solution for the shortage in manpower needs attention, as tension persists along the Line of Actual Control with heightened deployment along the region.
The first batch of Agniveer graduates perform the passing out parade at the 1 EME Centre in Secunderabad 
The first batch of Agniveer graduates perform the passing out parade at the 1 EME Centre in Secunderabad 

NEW DELHI: The ambitious Agnipath scheme might see some changes as the armed forces are mulling ways to obviate problems that may arise in the future. These problems, among many, include the decline in the numbers of personnel at the soldier's levels due to the restricted number of recruitments planned up till 2026.

The proposal being worked out, said the sources, including raising the percentage of Agniveers getting permanently absorbed to 50 per cent. Another issue that is being looked into is in inducting eligible candidates for technical streams such as aviation, engineering, electronics and similar trades.

“The cap in the maximum recruitment age to 21 years is leaving a smaller pool of eligible candidates. Thus, the proposal is to raise this to 23 years so that we can get the youth passing out of polytechnic institutions,” said sources.

The eligibility age is in the range of 17.5 to 21 years and the enrolment is done in various categories and trades, including the technical ones. Raising the recruitment numbers is also a figure in the proposal. Otherwise, it will lead to a dearth in numbers at the soldier level, which will take years to complete. Between 2022 and 2026, around 1.75 lakh Agniveers are expected to be recruited. The aim of the proposals is “to make up for the decline in a planned manner.  Otherwise, it might turn into bigger problems, functional and operational,” sources said.

As per Lieutenant General Anil Puri, the then additional secretary of the Department of Military Affairs (DMA) of the Ministry of Defence, the intake of Agniveers will go up to 1.25 lakh in the near future and will not remain at 46,000, which is the present figure. 

“In the next four to five years, our intake (of soldiers) will be 50,000-60,000 and will increase to 90,000-1 lakh subsequently. We’ve started small at 46,000 to analyse the scheme... and to build up infrastructure capacity,” Puri had said in June 2022. DMA looks after training and staffing.

The government had, in December 2021, informed the Parliament that the shortage in the Army stood at 1,04,053 personnel, 12,431 in the Navy and 5,471 in the Air Force. It takes around 1.5 years to select and train a candidate.

The solution for the shortage in manpower needs attention, as tension persists along the Line of Actual Control with heightened deployment along the region. The Ministry of Defence is empowered to make amendments or even change the provisions of the new recruiting scheme Agniveer, which with time will be found not suitable, the source explained. The MoD will not be required to wait for the Cabinet approval, which in most other cases is needed, the source added.

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