Indian government to go ahead with new military recruitment plan this month despite protests

Indian government to go ahead with new military recruitment plan this month despite protests

Enrollment under India’s new armed services recruitment plan will begin this month, top defense officials say, despite protests against a scheme that will drastically cut tenure and offer fewer service benefits at the end of contracts.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government on June 14 set out a policy called Agnipath, or “path of fire”, designed to bring more people into the military on four-year contracts to lower the average age of India’s 1.38 million-strong armed forces.

The scheme sparked violent protests in northern and eastern parts of the country, with thousands of young men attacking train coaches, burning tires and clashing with officials, after which the government tweaked some of the rules.

Defense experts have also criticized the plan, saying it could weaken the structure of the forces and have serious ramifications for national security in a country that shares often-tense borders with both Pakistan and China.

However, top defense officials say Agnipath is a transformational reform being implemented to revamp security infrastructure.

Thick black smoke billowing out of a passenger train.
The government tweaked some of the rules after thousands of protested the “path of fire” policy.(Reuters)

Job security uncertain post-deployment

Under Agnipath, 46,000 cadets will be recruited this year, and only 25 per cent will be kept on at the end of their four-year terms.

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