Amid protests over the military recruitment scheme Agnipath on Tuesday, 21 June, received support from India's National Security Advisor (NSA), Ajit Doval, and Vice Chief of the Army Staff, Lieutenant General B S Raju.
NSA Ajit Doval, in an interview with ANI, said that the government's move was "not a knee-jerk reaction that has come overnight" and has been debated and studied for over decades.
Meanwhile, Lt General Raju told The Indian Express that Agnipath marked a "fundamental change" in armed forces recruitment and that there was "a need" for all to "absorb the change." Raju also stated that the scheme had been "well thought out," and that any modifications would be made at the end of four or five years.
'No Question of Any Rollback': Ajit Doval
In an interview with ANI aired on Tuesday, Doval said, "There is no question of any rollback (of the Agnipath scheme). Let me tell you one thing. This is not a knee-jerk reaction that has come overnight. This has been debated and discussed for over decades."
"In the 1970s, we had committees that talked about reorganisation and reforming the army including the usage of manpower, technology and others," the NSA added.
According to Doval, under the Agnipath system, every young person in the country who has the desire, drive, and feeling of commitment to defend the country is given an opportunity.
"His energy and talent are used to make this country strong," he said.
'Pilot Project': Lt Gen B S Raju
Lt Gen Raju described the Agnipath scheme that is now being implemented as a "pilot project".
"The methodology of recruitment, percentages of retention-extension, anything of that nature, if there is a requirement to be tweaked, it will be done at the end of four to five years, once we have some reasonable data. Right now, we have a policy that has been well thought through, and which we are implementing," he told The Indian Express.
The Lieutenant stated that the modifications to regiments would be made in a "very slow manner" and that the homogeneous units would not be phased out immediately.
The Agnipath Scheme
The Centre's Agnipath scheme is a four-year 'contract' recruitment programme for personnel in the Indian Army, Navy, and Air Force.
The jawans recruited through this scheme will be known as 'Agniveer,' according to the Centre, while the Army claims the scheme would result in a "reduction in the average age of the military from 32 to 26 years over a period of time."
Meanwhile, protests against the scheme have erupted in several parts of the country, with young people staging demonstrations.
The protesters are mostly concerned about the temporary period of recruitment with no guarantee of permanent employment, mandatory retirement for most without gratuity or pension benefits, the low age limit, and the already ongoing delay in recruiting previously eligible applicants.
(With inputs from Indian Express and ANI.)