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Armed forces not about jobs, it’s about passion, says MoD on Agnipath protests

Lt Gen Anil Puri, addl secy, Dept of Military Affairs, says govts have wanted to reduce age profile of forces since 1990 & recruitment break caused by Covid gave opportunity for reform.

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New Delhi: Lt General Anil Puri, additional secretary, Department of Military Affairs, Tuesday said patriotism or working for the army is a passion and a commitment, not an everyday job (“Deshbhakti ya fauj mein kaam karna ek junoon hai, ek jazba hai, lekin naukri nahi“), while addressing a press conference on the Agnipath scheme.

Lt Gen Puri is the top military officer in charge of the Agnipath scheme.

Alluding to people’s concerns over the new military recruitment scheme and the ongoing protests against it, Lt General Puri said the media played a critical role in quashing any fake news and disinformation that was spread over the past week. When it comes to national security, he added, there was no space for fake news.

Lt Gen Puri also said that the Agnipath scheme prioritises boosting of India’s national security, harnessing the power of youth and being nation-centric.

Unpacking the lineages of the Agnipath scheme, Lt Gen Puri argued that it has not been a sudden development. For decades, the government and various committees have been ideating on a scheme like Agnipath, he said. Many committees like the Arun Singh Committee, Kargil Committee, and Shekatkar Committee 2016 have argued on lines similar to the current scheme, he added. The Agnipath scheme, he reiterated, only brings to fruit the process established by all these committees.

Puri further added that Covid-19 acted as a catalyst for the Agnipath scheme. While governments since 1990 have wanted to bring changes in the age profile for the tri-services, the suspension of recruitment over the past two years due to the pandemic gave an opportunity to bring forth this latest reform, he said.

Over the past two years, Lt Gen Puri added, the forces have been critically studying and researching for the Agnipath scheme. The new recruitment process is not the work of one person or individual but a collective achievement, he added.

He also said that they had studied procedures in multiple countries like the UK, the US, and France, as well as studied the works of many defence scholars. “This has helped us incorporate the best practices and brought us to the final scheme that has been launched. However, unlike in the past, the reform will not remain a paper tiger,” added Puri.

“It is essential to harness and use India’s demographic dividend and that is why we must use our young population in the armed forces,” explained Puri, alluding to the proposed age drop in the services once the Agnipath scheme takes effect. “We need Indian solutions for Indian problems,” he added.

“There is no change in the process of recruitment, what happened five years ago, what happened earlier, the same will continue,” said Lt. General Puri.

He also explained that there would be no change in the regimentation process of the Indian Army, the details of which are awaited.

Also read: Why Modi, Yogi govts are treating Agnipath protesters as ‘their people’


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