Agniveers will be 50% of armed forces by mid 2030s: Lt Gen Rana Pratap Kalita
New Delhi, July 06: Agniveers will account for 50 per cent of the armed forces by the mid-2030s, said Lieutenant General Rana Pratap Kalita, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Indian Army's Eastern Command on Tuesday.
Speaking At the India Today Conclave East 2022, Pratap Kalita said that a lot of deliberations were done before the Agnipath scheme announcement.
"Violent protests that were seen were law and order situations. It was because of misunderstanding or not having the correct perspective of the scheme," Kalita was quoted saying by India Today.
"After the initial 2-3 days, after various facets of schemes were explained, that it is a beneficial scheme for youths, the protests started dying down. People have understood it's a good scheme. And youths have understood the benefits," he said.
"With the infusion of technology, we have to change with times. And we need to restructure ourselves, including the armed forces. Agnipath is primarily a human resource management exercise. It is not an exercise aimed at reducing the pensionary budget," he added.
Last month, the government announced the Agnipath scheme, under which youths between the ages of 17-and-a-half and 21 years would be inducted into the armed forces for a four-year tenure, while 25 percent of them will be subsequently inducted for regular service.
The scheme, especially its feature that 75 per cent of the recruits will serve only for four years and will not enjoy benefits like regular soldiers, has sparked protests in different parts of the country amid hectic efforts by the government to assuage the youth's concerns.
Amid the protests, the central government clarified the scheme will be implemented and there is no question of a rollback.
The upper age limit was raised to 23 years, with some government departments announcing priority for Agniveers in jobs.
Those hired under the 'Agnipath' scheme will be given a one-time lump sum of a little more than Rs 11 lakh when they end their four-year tenure. However, they do not receive any pension benefits. For most, seeking a second job is essential to support themselves and their families.
The government has announced several measures to support the 'Agniveers' after their four-year service in the armed forces under the Agnipath scheme.