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As Agnipath protests rage on, a look at schemes announced by govt to boost Agniveers’ prospects

The Centre has declared that the scheme won't be rolled back. But it plans to help Agniveers who don't get absorbed by armed forces after their 4-yr contract find job opportunities.

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New Delhi: Last week, as the Central government announced a radical new recruitment plan for India’s armed forces — Agnipath — a flurry of violent protests against the scheme soon broke out across the country, mostly over concerns related to job security and strict age criteria.

The employment scheme intends to rejig the recruitment process of India’s armed forces below the officer rank, by creating a new system by hiring personnel for short-term contracts of four years, with only 25% of the cohort gaining permanent positions after the tenure ends.

To assuage concerns and stem the protests, the Central government has announced several schemes for the recruits. These include both job reservations in government ministries and upskilling opportunities to ensure gainful employment for the Agniveers.

These schemes are on top of the non-taxable Seva Nidhi package of Rs.11.71 lakh provided to the Agniveers on completion of four years, and non-contributory life insurance cover of Rs 48 lakh.

ThePrint looks at the schemes announced by the seven Union government ministries.

Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA)

The Home Ministry announced that Agniveers will get priority for recruitment into the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) and Assam Rifles, with 10 per cent of jobs reserved for them to boost their chances of employability after completion of their 4-year term.

Further, the MHA also announced relaxations in age criteria. The first batch of Agniveers will get a relief of 5 years beyond the prescribed upper age limit. For the later batches, the relaxation will be 3 years.

Ministry of Defence

For the first cycle of recruits, the Ministry of Defence has announced relaxations in age-eligibility for the first batch of Agniveers by increasing the upper limit from 21 to 23 years.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh also approved the reservation of 10 per cent vacancies in the ministry for Agniveers.

This reservation will apply for jobs in the Indian Coast Guard, defence civilian posts and all the 16 defence public sector undertakings, including HAL and BEL among others.

Ministry of Ports, Shipping, and Waterways

The Ports, Shipping, and Waterways Ministry also announced six routes through which Agniveers from the Indian Navy can be recruited into the Merchant Navy.

According to the ministry, these ways will enable Agniveers to gain skills, experience, and certification to make them eligible to join merchant navy’s across the world.

Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship

Skill India mission and the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship have also signalled their intent to provide the Agniveers with opportunities post their stint in the armed forces.

The ministry has announced that all Agniveers will get Skill India certification, while in service.

It also said that they 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”.

However, the details of this collaboration are yet to be released.

Further, the ministry added, “all organisations of Skill India — Directorate General of Training (DGT), National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), various Sector Skill Councils, entrepreneurship institutes NIESBUD and IIE, as well as skills regulator NCVET, will be connected with this exercise to ensure that Agniveers get the required skill certifications related to their job roles while in service”.

Also read: Crushed dreams, low morale, pressure from home — Why many army hopefuls in Bihar are anti-Agnipath

Ministry of Education

The Education Ministry announced a three-year skill-based degree and customised courses to help Agniveers’ career after their service period.

The degree, developed by Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), will be executed by the Education Ministry. A total of 50 per cent of credits required for a degree will come from the skills learnt during the 4-year training, including both technical and non-technical skills.

The remaining credits will come from a range of subjects like economics, history, political science, public administration, sociology, and mathematics, among others.

The ministry has also declared that the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) will launch customised courses for 10th pass Agniveers to help them attain 12th pass certificates.

Ministry of Corporate Affairs

Apart from aforementioned schemes, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs has also been deliberating to provide credit facilities and employment opportunities.

While the details are still under deliberation, it is assessed that public sector banks, public sector insurance companies, and financial institutions will explore employment opportunities for Agniveers.

Banks will also extend credit lines for skill up-gradation, education and setting up businesses for the Agniveers, although the fine print of these schemes are yet to be finalised.

Ministry of Civil Aviation

The Civil Aviation Ministry has declared that Agniveers can be employed in air traffic management, aircraft technician services, and be eligible for work in maintenance, repair and overhaul services (MRO) of aircraft.

The ministry also laid out possibilities for Agniveers to provide meteorological and air accident investigator services.

Positions in-flight safety, administration, finance, IT & communications will also be provided to them, along with the opportunity to handle logistics and supply chain management wings of the ministry.

Also read: Agnipath an ember that can consume India. Why it’s an invitation to civil war


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