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No change in Agnipath recruitment process of youth: Indian Air Force

New Delhi : Amidst the backdrop of protests in different parts of the country against the Agnipath scheme, the Indian Air Force on Tuesday stressed that there is no change in the recruitment process of youth for the scheme. Notably, the Indian Armed Forces-- Army, Navy and the Air Force-- on Sunday announced a broad schedule for recruitment of soldiers under the Agnipath scheme. "There is absolutely no change in the process of induction, entry-level qualification, examination syllabus, or medical standards. All enrolments in Air Force will take place only through Agniveer Vayu," Air Marshal Suraj Kumar Jha, Air Officer-in-Charge Personnel (AOP), IAF said while addressing a press conference today. "The combat capabilities and readiness of the Indian Air Force are non-negotiable. The Indian Air Force and government of India will do everything that is required to keep us combat-worthy and combat-ready," he said. Amid massive protests across India, the Indian Armed Forces- Army, Navy and the Air Force- on Sunday announced a broad schedule for recruitment of soldiers under the Agnipath scheme. The move asserted that the short-term contractual scheme- Agnipath- is being implemented to bring down the age profile of the armed forces. Lt General Anil Puri, the additional secretary in the Department of Military Affairs, strongly defended the scheme, saying that reducing the age profile of the three services has been on the table for quite some time and even the Kargil review committee had made observations on it. At a press conference on Sunday, Lieutenant General Puri said the government was going ahead with implementing the Agnipath scheme and appealed to the youths to end their protest.The "transformative" Agnipath scheme, announced by Union Minister Rajanath Singh on June 14, in the presence of the three service chiefs provides for the recruitment of into the armed services of youths in the age bracket of 17-and-a-half-years to 21 for only four years with a provision to retain 25 per cent of them for 15 more years. The Centre later extended the upper age limit to 23 years for recruitment in 2022. The Union Cabinet had also approved Agnipath scheme on June 14 and the youth selected under this scheme will be known as Agniveers. The government had announced that 46,000 Agniveers to be recruited this year. It had said that armed Forces will have "a younger, fitter, diverse profile" to face future challenges. There have been protests against the Agnipath scheme in some states and the government has announced support measures to allay apprehensions. The Indian Army issued its first notification on Monday for recruitment under Agnipath scheme. Lieutenant General Anil Puri, Additional Secretary, Department of Military Affairs, had told the media on Sunday the reform in the form of scheme like Agnipath was pending for long. "We want to bring youthfulness and experience with this reform. Today, a large number of jawans are in their 30s and officers are getting command much later than in the past", he had said.

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