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The Indian Army is grappling with a potential manpower crisis as the number of new recruits entering service, or inductions, continues to decline, according to sources within the Department of Military Affairs (DMA). This shortfall is raising concerns about the Army’s ability to maintain its operational strength, particularly along the sensitive borders.

The report highlights the Army’s worry that its current induction rate will leave it significantly below its required troop levels by the end of this decade. This poses a significant challenge considering the need for a robust military presence in areas like Eastern Ladakh, where India shares a disputed border with China.

The government’s Agnipath scheme, introduced in 2024, aimed to address troop shortages by inducting young recruits for a fixed four-year term. However, the scheme has faced criticism and hasn’t yielded the anticipated results.

One of the factors limiting recruitment under Agnipath is the age restriction. Currently, the scheme only allows applications from individuals aged 17.5 to 21 years. The Army is proposing to raise this upper age limit to 23 years in a bid to attract a wider pool of potential recruits. Additionally, the military is seeking approval to increase overall induction numbers to address the manpower gap.

The proposed changes to the Agnipath scheme, if approved, could be a step in the right direction. However, it remains to be seen whether these adjustments will be enough to bridge the widening gap between required and actual troop strength.