Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar on Tuesday said ‘Agnipath’ is a great scheme which was arrived at after “extensive deliberations” and “extensive study” of how other military forces have structured their manpower.

He said this in an interaction on dais after delivering a keynote address at an event here on ‘India’s Naval Revolution: Becoming an Ocean Power’. The idea got originated around mid-2020, “and it took around two years to bring it to fruition and to execution,” he said.

“It’s a great scheme, and I feel it’s long-awaited and should have been done many many years back,” he said in response to a question on Agnipath scheme from the host during the interaction.

Admiral Kumar said there is a recommendation in the Kargil review committee report that the age profile of the armed forces need to be brought down. The average age profile at that time was 32 years, and they said it should be brought down to about 25-26 years.

“Since then the armed forces has been looking at various options on how to bring it down. But, this was one of the schemes which was arrived at after extensive deliberations and extensive study of what is happening in the world, how various other military forces have structured their manpower and so on,” he said.

The Agnipath scheme, announced on June 14, provides for the recruitment of youths between the age bracket of 17-and-half years to 21 for only four years with a provision to retain 25 per cent of them for 15 more years. Later, the government extended the upper age limit to 23 years for recruitment in 2022.

Widespread protests had broken in various parts of the country after the government had made the announcement about the scheme.  The Navy chief also said that each letter in the word Agnipath symbolises various ideas.

So, ‘G’ stands for the growth-oriented scheme, ‘N’ for nation building, ‘I’ for integration, ‘P’ for patriotism, ‘A’ for ‘atmanirbhar’ and so on, he said.