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In a recent column for “The Print,” General Manoj Mukund Naravane, the retired Indian Army General and former 28th Chief of the Army Staff, expressed strong support for the Agnipath recruitment scheme. He believes that with the right adjustments, Agnipath can serve as a global model not only for military recruitment but also for various government jobs.

General Naravane highlighted the potential of the Agnipath scheme to revolutionize recruitment across the Indian Armed Forces. He suggested that if successfully implemented, this model could be extended to all central government jobs, including allied services and the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF). “This will go a long way in demonstrating and vindicating the government’s stand that the Agnipath scheme is indeed a transformative and beneficial scheme,” he stated.

The Agnipath scheme, introduced by the Indian government, aims to recruit young individuals for a short service tenure in the armed forces. Agniveers, as these recruits are called, serve for a period of four years, after which they may either transition to regular military roles or move into civilian careers.

General Naravane pointed out several potential benefits of the Agnipath scheme:

  1. Youthful Workforce: The scheme brings in a younger demographic into the armed forces, which can enhance agility and dynamism.
  2. Skill Development: Agniveers receive training and experience that can be valuable in both military and civilian careers.
  3. Employment Opportunities: Extending this model to other government sectors could open up numerous job opportunities for the youth.

Despite its potential advantages, the Agnipath scheme has faced significant criticism. Detractors argue that the short duration of service may not be sufficient to instill the necessary values and skills required for a soldier. There are also concerns about the post-service career prospects of Agniveers, particularly the absence of pension benefits.

General Naravane acknowledged these concerns and emphasized the need for strategic tweaks to the scheme. “Addressing these criticisms head-on, we must ensure that Agniveers receive adequate post-service support and opportunities. This could include structured pathways for further employment in central government jobs, including allied services and CAPF,” he wrote.