Former Army Chief MM Naravane says, ‘Agneepath plan came out of the blue.’

 – Gudstory

Former Army Chief MM Naravane says, ‘Agneepath plan came out of the blue.’ – Gudstory

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As reported PTIGeneral Naravane, in his memoir ‘Four Stars of Destiny’, has detailed the genesis of the ‘Agneepath’ recruitment scheme, considered India’s most radical military recruitment policy.

Soon after assuming the role of Army Chief, General MM Naravane discussed the ‘Tour of Duty’ plan with the Prime Minister in a meeting in early 2020. Originally proposed for the Army and covering short-term soldier tenure, the scope of the scheme was later expanded. When the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) presented a broader formulation months later, all three To include services.

Also read: Agneepath is just one pillar of a grander goal

General MM Naravane, who was the 28th Army Chief from 31 December 2019 to 30 April 2022, said that during his tenure, discussions were held regarding various models of the ‘Tour of Duty’ scheme.

Initially, the Army’s view was that 75 percent of the recruited personnel could be retained, while the remaining 25 percent should be released.

In June 2022, the government launched the Agneepath Recruitment Scheme, which focuses on short-term recruitment of individuals to reduce the age demographic of the three services. The initiative allows individuals aged 17.5 to 21 to enroll for four years, with an option to retain 25 percent of them for an additional 15 years.

What has Naravane said in his book ‘Four Stars of Destiny’?

In his book published by Penguin Random House India, Naravane also recalled that the starting monthly salary for recruits in the first year was determined only by 20,000 (including all components), a figure he considered “unacceptable”.

Naravane said, “This was not acceptable. Here we were talking about a trained soldier, who was expected to sacrifice his life for the country. Surely a soldier cannot be compared to a daily wage labourer?”

“Based on our very strong recommendations, it was later extended to 30,000 per month.”

Also read: Agneepath Yojana: What benefits will Agniveers get after 4 years of service? center explains

Following the new formulation of the plan, General Naravane said the Army was “surprised by this turn of events, but for the Navy and Air Force, it came like a bolt from the blue.”

“When I first told the PM about the Tour of Duty scheme, it was on the lines of a short-service option at the military level, similar to the Short Service Commission scheme for officers that was already in vogue.”

“Just as a limited number of SSC officers are taken every year, a limited number of jawans will also be enrolled and released after completion of their ‘tour’ with a second tour if found fit. Will also be given the option of re-enlistment,” he writes.

According to Naravane’s account, the subsequent months were relatively tumultuous as the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic became the primary focus, followed by the Galwan conflict in eastern Ladakh.

Also read: Agneepath scheme: Government releases fact sheet amid protests across the country

“However, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) was considering this proposal but with a much broader scope and applicability. In the PMO formulation, not only should the entire intake for the year be short-service based, but it would also apply to all three services,” he writes.

“Having become a tri-services affair, the onus now falls on CDS General Bipin Rawat to take the proposal forward, even if the Army remains the premier service.” “We in the Army were surprised by this,” he said. This turn of events, but for the Navy and the Air Force, it came as a sudden shock.”

Naravane explains that he needed some time to clarify to other chiefs that his initial proposal was specific to the Army and that he too was stunned by these unexpected developments.

Also read: Agneepath is a game changer scheme for armed forces: Rajnath Singh

“And it took them some time to adjust to the fact that they were very much part of the new proposal, dubbed the ‘Agneepath’ (Walk of Fire) scheme by the PMO, in which soldiers, sailors recruited under the scheme And airmen were included. Be known as ‘Agniveer’ (fire warrior),” he wrote.

During initial talks about ‘Agneepath’, Naravane said that the primary matter for consideration was to retain the people included. The Army’s view was in favor of a 75 percent retention and 25 percent release policy.

In contrast, the Department of Military Affairs suggested a 50-50 percent split, and the proposed period was five years.\

Also read: After BSF, now former firefighters will get 10 percent reservation in CISF!

PTI Citing Naravane, the report said it was this model that the CDS presented before a full panel comprising “the Prime Minister, Home, Defense and Finance ministers, NSA, service chiefs, PM’s PS and secretaries of relevant departments.” were involved.” November 2020.”

“In fact, it was during this meeting that the words ‘Agneepath’ and ‘Agniveer’ were used for the first time. “Assuming recruitment of 50,000 soldiers each year, after each ‘tour’, 25,000 soldiers will return to civilian society,” he said.

“It was felt that this did little to bring about any significant change in the population since one of the objectives of the plan was to give back to society disciplined manpower who would be in a position to contribute much more in the workplace.” The values ​​and ethos that they would have adopted while in service.”

Also read: Agneepath Scheme: Government changed the rules, know what changed

Naravane explains that the percentage was later reversed, whereby it was decided to retain only 25 per cent and release 75 per cent. This development prompted a re-evaluation of the plan, and the next point of discussion revolved around determining procedures for retention.

“It was assumed that it would be like the SSC scheme, with retention or release after a contract period of five years. In this regard, the PMO was of the view that there should be a two-stage retention process; 50 per cent after three years and 25 per cent after five years, effectively making it only 25 per cent retention,” he says.

‘Four Stars of Destiny’ will be released next month.

“It was not practical. Basic training and deployment will take six to eight months and the process of selection of personnel to be released will also take about six months, which means any soldier will be effective only for about two years.”

Also read: Supreme Court dismisses petitions challenging Delhi HC’s decision on Agneepath scheme

Naravane noted that the discussions continued over a long period of time, highlighting a specific challenge faced by the Air Force. For them, the allotted three years proved insufficient to adequately train individuals in the technical skills required for tasks such as repairs and routine operations and maintenance procedures for sophisticated platforms such as aircraft.

“Ultimately, a middle ground was agreed upon, one-step retention after four years of service,” he says.

Following the launch of the ‘Agneepath’ scheme, there were turbulent protests, including violence, in various regions of India as protesters called for its withdrawal due to the lack of job guarantee for 75 per cent of recruits in the new model.

Trains were set on fire, railway tracks were blocked and protests were seen on Thursday against the new military recruitment system. However, these protests gradually subsided within a few weeks.

“When India faces threats on two fronts, the unnecessary Agneepath plan reduces the operational effectiveness of our armed forces. Rahul Gandhi tweeted, BJP government should stop compromising the dignity, traditions, valor and discipline of our forces.

Bihar and neighboring Uttar Pradesh saw protests in January this year over the recruitment process for railway jobs, underscoring India’s persistent unemployment problem.

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