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No Change in Training; 4 Agniveers Can Join Instead of 1: Navy Chief on Agnipath | Exclusive

By: Marya Shakil

CNN-News18

Last Updated: June 17, 2022, 20:37 IST

New Delhi

Kumar said the decision was not knee-jerk and the process started two years ago. (Twitter)

Kumar said the decision was not knee-jerk and the process started two years ago. (Twitter)

“An Agniveer will undergo basic training for 16 weeks, instead of 20. We have removed irrelevant, redundant parts. Thereafter, the recruit will do his basic functional training and work for 4 years,” Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar told CNN-News18

Amid the violence over the ‘Agnipath’ scheme, Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar told CNN-News18 in an exclusive interview that “the Central scheme will in no way affect the training or ability, allow four youths to join instead of one, and will expand the career opportunities if they opt out of it after four years”.

Under the scheme, youth between ages 17.5 and 21 will be recruited into the three services — Army, Navy and Indian Air Force (IAF). After exiting the services after four years, up to 25% of them can apply voluntarily to join the services on a regular basis, depending on merit and organisational requirements.

The age limit has been revised from 21 years to 23 years as a one-time waiver.

Elaborating on how the training is effectively the same, Kumar said, “Today, as per the old scheme, a recruit is trained for 20 weeks, and given two-four weeks of training on ship. He then undergoes four-five months of functional qualification course and is thereafter deployed on ships or submarine or operation unit. From there on, he learns on the job. His course for deeper knowledge of the field happens only after six years.”

What will change for Agniveers?

“An Agniveer will join and undergo basic training for 16 weeks, instead of 20. We have removed certain irrelevant and redundant parts for the same output. Thereafter, the recruit will do his basic functional training as an electrician or mechanic and will be deployed. He will then work for the next four years,” he said.

Clarifying all doubts over the quality of training, he said, “Currently, major training happens in the first year and then only after five-six years, same will have happen for retained Agniveer. He will then specialize in the job.”

ALSO READ | The Arithmetic of Agnipath: What Agniveers Stand to Gain After Four Years

According to Kumar, after four years, the spectrum for career opportunities will widen for Agniveers. “Not just NDRF or CRPF, all shipping and related industries will be open to them. Tech hands can work as radio operators, logisticians, aircraft handlers, mechanics, etc. There will be an entire ecosystem where they can plug in,” he said.

Kumar said the decision was not knee-jerk and the process start two years ago. “It was based on the Kargil action taken report, where reducing the age profile was a recommendation. We discussed with all stakeholders. It suggested the age profile should be reduced from 32 years. In 12 years, we will be able to bring down the age profile to 24 and 25. It will be a fitter, more agile, tech-savvy and modern force.”

Allaying fears over job security, Kumar said, “Unlike enrollment so far, people will join at 17.5 years and will leave at 22 years. They have the option to continue. Currently, enrolled sailors and soldiers don’t have the option, they have to be there for 15-20 years as promised. Usually, we recruit 5,000-6,000 youths in a year, with Agniveers, the number will be 18,000-20,000, four times the current figure. Instead of one, four people can join. The opportunities will be more.”

ALSO READ | ‘Agnipath’ Protests: Govt’s Firefighting by Swiftly Revising Age Limit of Agniveers Lesson from Farm Stir?

Kumar underscored the idea behind the scheme. “Eventually, every village should have one Agniveer. It will develop connect between the Armed Forces and aam nagrik.”

His advice to the youth was: “Remain peaceful, protest and violence not an option. Agnipath is one of the best schemes that can help you get skilled, participate in nation-building and develop personality. There is an option to continue or leave. Look at it in a mature manner. Look at the benefits. After four years, the training will put you head and shoulders above your peers from universities.”

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first published:June 17, 2022, 19:55 IST
last updated:June 17, 2022, 20:37 IST