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The Centre recently announced the Agnipath Scheme, a short-duration military service for recruiting Soldiers and Airmen in the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force. The enrolled persons will serve for four years in the forces; up to 25 per cent of these servicemen will be absorbed into the regular cadre. Since its announcement, the scheme has been at the eye of the storm. Among many concerns, the most pressing is about what happens to the remaining 75 per cent of recruits after four years of service.
As per government directive, Agniveers will be offered employment in the Ministry of Defence, Indian Coast Guard, and PSUs like HAL, BEL, and BEML, among others. The Home Ministry has also announced a 10 per cent reservation in CAPF and Assam Rifles, along with a preference for recruitment in state police forces.
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Interestingly, the private sector is also expected to roll out special opportunities for the Agniveers. One of the first companies to make such announcements is the Mahindra Group. The Chairman of the Mahindra and Mahindra Group, Anand Mahindra, tweeted referring to the widespread protests against the scheme that have ensued in different parts of the country. He said that the company would welcome and train Agniveers.
India Pvt Ltd to step in?
The Centre has said that Agniveers will be trained on ‘tangible skills and work experience” in domains like engineering, mechanics, law and order. The Centre also said that several companies and sectors will ‘prefer hiring a skilled and disciplined Agniveer.’
Replying to one of the commenters’ questions, Anand Mahindra tweeted, “Large potential for employment of Agniveers in the Corporate Sector. With leadership, teamwork & physical training, Agniveers provide market-ready professional solutions to industry, covering the full spectrum from operations to administration & supply chain management.”
Not too late after Mahindra’s announcement, Harsh Goenka, the Chairman of RPG Group, tweeted that his company, too, would recruit Agniveers. He also appealed to other corporates to ‘take this pledge and assure our youths of a future.’
Tata Sons Chairman N Chandrasekaran also spoke in support of the scheme; he believes that it is a great opportunity for the youth to serve in the Indian Defence Forces. He added that the Agnipath will make available a ‘very disciplined and trained youth for the industry, including the Tata Group.’
Joining Mahindra and Chandrasekaran in support of Agnipath, Biocon Head Honcho Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw tweeted that Agniveers will have a distinct advantage in the industrial job market.
The Joint Managing Director of Apollo Hospitals, Sangita Reddy, wrote in a tweet that Agniveers will prove to be market-ready professionals for the industry.
Sanjeev Bikchandani, the co-founder of Info Edge, the parent company of Naukri.com, vouched for the employment prospects of Agniveer in a series of tweets. He said that the Agniveers’ role in private companies need not be restricted to just security but could be diverse enough to include sales, back office, and operations. He said that the Agniveers could even be absorbed into management jobs and not be considered just for blue or grey collar ones.
However, unlike Mahindra and Goenka, Bikchandani did not specifically comment on any policy of giving preference to Agniveers in Info Edge or its affiliates.
One of the earliest vocal supporters of the Agnipath Scheme from the Indian corporate was TVS Motor Company Managing Director Sudarshan Venu. He said that the scheme would have a significant impact on society and contribute to nation-building. He also said in a statement that Agniveers will play an important role in furthering economic growth and strengthening society.
The Centre had announced that apart from job opportunities in different sectors, Agniveers would be trained in varied skills, in line with the National Skills Qualifications Framework (NSQF) syllabus. Agniveers will get the Skill India certification.
Options for retirees in regular service
In regular service (short-term and permanent commission), retired defence personnel usually get absorbed into communications, aviation, logistics and warehouse-related companies. While most of the personnel assume security-related roles, many take up jobs in HR and administration.
Over 50,000 troops just from the Indian Army (in the rank of Junior Commissioned Officers and other Ranks) retire every year. The Directorate of Indian Army Veterans (DIAV) helps the retired personnel to smoothly transition to civilian life. Launched in 2016, the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojna (PMKVY) through the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) has trained retirees in sectors like automotive, agriculture, construction, healthcare, tourism, telecom, electronics, retail and logistics. Over 20,000 have been enrolled in these courses.
Most leading companies, including Infosys, Mahindra Group, and IBM, among others, have special provisions for hiring military veterans.