New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday congratulated the first batch of Agniveers on being the pioneers of the Agnipath scheme, asserting that it is a transformative policy and a game changer in strengthening the armed forces and making them future-ready.
Virtually addressing the new recruits, he said this “path-breaking” scheme will further empower women.
According to an official statement, the prime minister said the young Agniveers will make the armed forces more youthful and tech-savvy.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh called the Agnipath scheme one of the “most important and unprecedented reforms” in the armed forces.
Addressing the Agniveers, the prime minister said technologically-advanced soldiers will play a “key role” in our armed forces, and added that the current generation of youth especially has this potential and Agniveers will play a leading role in the forces in the times to come.
The prime minister said “new India” is filled with renewed vigour and efforts are underway to modernise the armed forces and make them ‘aatmanirbhar’ (self-reliant).
“In the 21st century, the way wars are fought is changing,” he said, speaking about the new fronts of contactless warfare and challenges of cyber warfare.
Lauding 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. “The experience they will acquire through this opportunity will be a source of pride for life,” he added.
The prime minister concluded by saying that they are the ones who are going to provide leadership to the nation in the 21st century, the statement said quoting Modi, who also added that the new recruitment scheme will further empower women.
The prime minister said he looks forward to seeing women Agniveers in all three forces, noting that they are leading armed forces on various fronts and cited examples of women posted in Siachen and driving modern fighter planes.
Defence Minister Singh said the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has taken a number of decisions to empower the nation, terming the Agnipath scheme as one of the “most important and unprecedented reforms”, an official statement said.
Singh asserted that strengthening the security apparatus of the country is the government’s topmost priority amidst the ever-evolving global scenario and geopolitical uncertainty.
He appreciated the fact that the scheme received encouraging response, with a large number of applicants turning up for the recruitment and made special mention of the women Agniveers who are also being trained along with their male counterparts.
The defence minister added that several ministries, including the Defence Ministry, are coming forward for the welfare of Agniveers.
“Reservation is being ensured for Agniveers on a number of posts in various departments of Ministry of Defence, Central Armed Police Forces and Ministry of Railways. Arrangements are being made jointly by MoD & Ministry of Education to ensure proper education to the Agniveers.
“In collaboration with Ministry of Finance, arrangements are being made to provide loans at reasonable rates to Agniveers, who wish to start self-employment or any business after service. Agniveers will not only become Surakshaveers, but also Samriddhiveers,” he said.
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.
The prime minister’s address was telecast live on all Agniveer Training Centres and was attended by Chief of Defence Staff General Anil Chauhan, Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhari, Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral R Hari Kumar, Chief of the Army Staff General Manoj Pande and other senior MoD officers.