New Delhi: The new Indian military recruitment scheme called Agnipath allows eligible youth to serve in the Armed Forces for a period of four years with the title Agniveer. Its launch by the Union Government a few days ago has given rise to vehement protests in several parts of the country as youths aspiring to join the defence forces fear they got a raw deal. Those who are likely to be affected by the prospect of a short-term career include more than 50,000 candidates who recently passed the exacting physical and medical tests as part of the military recruitment process. Among them, more than 4,000 candidates are from Kerala.
The defence service hopefuls underwent the tough physical and medical tests in February and March last year. Even as they were expecting the recruitment call the central government gave its nod to the controversial scheme. They fear their prospect of recruitment to the three wings of the defence forces — the Army, the Air Force and the Navy — have been jeopardized with the radical scheme.
In Kerala the tests were held in two regions: 2,300 applicants took part in the recruitment rally that was held in the Thiruvananthapuram region, while 2,250 candidates attended from the Kozhikode region.
How the scheme affects NCC cadets
The National Cadet Corps (NCC) is considered a gateway to defence jobs. Its ‘C’ certificate is coveted as its holders are eligible to be inducted into the armed forces without attending the entrance tests.
Around 50 candidates who possess the NCC ‘C’ certificate in Kerala too were expecting a military call-up.
Students who aim a career in the defense forces join the NCC from class eight and continue up to graduation. These candidates now wonder whether they had served in the NCC for almost eight years to get recruited via Agnipath and work in the forces only for 4 years. One of the candidates told Manorama that he had waited patiently for the last one-and-a-half years, without taking up any other jobs, as the authorities had informed that the recruitment could be held at any time.
The announcement that future military appointments would only be through the Agnipath scheme has shattered the hopes of thousands of such aspirants across the country who have been waiting for the last one-and-a-half years. Those who have already passed the physical and medical tests have to attend them again as per the formalities envisaged under Agnipath.
In the physical test at the military recruitment rally, a candidate has to run 1.6 kilometers in under 5.45 minutes. They wouldn’t be admitted even if they cross the finish line at 5.46 minutes. Worried aspirants ask whether the defense forces that do not allow a concession of even one second are blind to their struggle for the last one-and-a-half years.
After intense protests broke out with the announcement of the scheme, the central government raised the upper-age limit to 23 years for recruitment. But confusion about the radical scheme persists. The recruitment notifications by the Army, Navy and Air Force are expected soon and they may clear the air over the exact career prospects and benefits.