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Industry leaders come out in support of Agnipath scheme

Military veterans ask some of them to furnish data showing how many ex-servicemen they had employed in the past in their respective corporate houses
Former navy chief Arun Prakash.
Former navy chief Arun Prakash.
File photo

Imran Ahmed Siddiqui   |   New Delhi   |   Published 21.06.22, 03:17 AM

Military veterans on Monday asked some industry leaders who have come out in support of the government’s Agnipath recruitment scheme in the armed forces to furnish data showing how many ex-servicemen they had employed in the past in their respective corporate houses.

Responding to Anand Mahindra’s tweet supporting the four-year contractual scheme, former navy chief and 1971 war hero Arun Prakash said: “Why await this new scheme? Has the Mahindra Group, so far, reached out to thousands of highly skilled & disciplined ex-Servicemen (Jawans & Officers), retiring every year & desperately seeking a second career? It would be nice to get some statistics from your Group.”

Industry leaders, including Mahindra Group chairman Anand Mahindra, RPG Enterprises chairman Harsh Goenka and Biocon Ltd chairperson Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, have come out in support of the Agnipath recruitment scheme.

“Saddened by the violence around the #Agneepath program. When the scheme was mooted last year I stated — & I repeat — the discipline & skills Agniveers gain will make them eminently employable. The Mahindra Group welcomes the opportunity to recruit such trained, capable young people,” Anand Mahindra said in a tweet.

 Replying to Mahindra, Harsh Goenka wrote: “The RPG group too welcomes the opportunity to employ the Agniveers. I do hope other corporates will also join us to take this pledge and assure our youths of a future.”

Shaw said: “I firmly believe that Agniveers will have a distinct advantage in recruitment in the industrial job market.”

Former Air Vice-Marshal Manmohan Bahadur tweeted, tagging Mahindra: “Sir, could we have some stats as requested by the ex Naval Chief (Prakash)? I have retired after forty years in service listening to such promises.”

Tagging Mahindra, Abhishek Kumar tweeted: “I am ex-navy engineer sailor, released from Navy on June 31, 2017. I approached Mahindra group for a suitable job but they did not reply to my request. After 5 years still I am jobless and now suddenly all companies are ready to give jobs to Agniveers. What a joke.”

Col Salim Durrani tweeted: “Dear Mr Mahindra, nearly 60-70000 fully trained soldiers retire year on year. If I may ask, how many of these do you presently absorb? Any statistics. We’ll come to Agniveers later when the time comes.”

Former colonel Ashok Kumar Singh also tagged Mahindra and said: “Mr Mahindra pls learn from US corporate. How do they encourage and support ex-Servicemen? You are just doing a lip service as you have been told by Modi…”

Abhishek Kumar said he had no complaints with the government’s new recruitment policy but with “white lies being spread by the corporate sector that they will look after Agniveers after four years”.

 A former major general said the industrialists who were promising jobs to Agniveers should reveal how many ex-servicemen they had employed over the years. “They will be exposed once they reveal their respective data,” he said.

The latest data (as on June 30, 2021) available with the Directorate General Resettlement (DGR) under the Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare, ministry of defence, show a huge gap in the number of ex-servicemen recruited in government jobs as compared to the vacancies reserved for them.

Although 10 per cent Group C posts and 20 per cent Group D posts are reserved for ex-servicemen in central government departments, they constituted only 1.29 per cent of the overall strength in Group C and 2.66 per cent in Group D across 34 of the 77 central government departments.

Of the 10,84,705 Group C employees in the 34 central government departments, only 13,976 were ex-servicemen. And of the total 3,25,265 Group D employees, just 8,642 were ex-servicemen.

 There is already a 10 per cent reservation for ex-servicemen in the central paramilitary forces. But, of the overall strength of the CAPFS as on June 30, 2019, ex-servicemen accounted for only 0.47 per cent in Group C (4,146 of total 8,81,397), 0.87 per cent in Group B (539 of 61,650), and 2.20 per cent in Group A (1,687 of 76,681).

 In the wake of the violent protests across the country last week by job aspirants against Agnipath, the home ministry and the defence ministry had rushed to announce additional 10 per cent job reservations for Agnipath recruits who get demobilised after four years.

 As on June 30, 2021, the number of ex-servicemen stood at 26,39,020 — 22,93,378 from the army, 2,07,534 from the air force and 1,38,108 from the navy.

 “In central PSUs and public sector banks also, there is a major shortfall in the number of ex-servicemen against the sanctioned quota,” said a defence ministry official.

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