Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday addressed the first batch of Agniveers and asserted that Agnipath, a short-term military employment scheme which has drawn criticism from some sections, is a transformative policy and a game changer in strengthening the armed forces and making them future-ready.
A statement said Modi congratulated the Agniveers on being the pioneers of this ”path-breaking” scheme. He said the young Agniveers will make the armed forces more youthful and tech savvy.
Hailing the potential of Agniveers, he said their spirit is reflective of the bravery of the armed forces which has always kept the flag of the nation flying high. He said the experience, which they will acquire through this opportunity, will be a source of pride for life.
Modi said the scheme will further empower women and expressed happiness at how women Agniveers are adding pride to the naval forces, the statement said. The prime minister said he looks forward to seeing women Agniveers in all three forces, noting that women are leading armed forces on various fronts and cited examples of women posted in Siachen and driving modern fighter planes. Official sources had earlier said that Defence Minister Rajnath Singh was also present at the interaction.
Under the Agnipath scheme, announced on June 14 last year, the three services are recruiting youths between the age bracket of 17-and-half years and 21 years for four years with a provision to retain 25 per cent of them for 15 more years. For 2022, the upper age limit was raised to 23 years.
Opposition parties have criticised the exercise but the government has said it will make the armed forces more youthful and cater to its current needs.