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India seeks younger military by revamping recruitment

Indian Army Chief General Manoj Pande (centre), Indian Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari (right), and Lieutenant General Anil Puri of the Department of Military Affairs (DMA) announce India's new military recruitment policy on 14 June 2022. (Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Indian military has announced an overhaul of its recruitment process, which will now seek greater numbers of personnel below officer ranks (PBORs) for a shorter duration of service.

Personnel enlisted into the army, navy, and air force as other ranks were earlier bound to a contractual period of 17 years. Under the new system, which was announced on 14 June, men between the ages of 17.5 and 21 will be eligible for a four-year period of service.

The programme is open to women, but progressively based on service requirements, said Additional Secretary Lieutenant General Anil Puri, Department of Military Affairs (DMA).

India's Ministry of Defence (MoD) said during a press conference in New Delhi on 14 June that recruits under the updated programme, which is called Agnipath (‘path of fire'), will be subject to six months of training.

Recruitment for the scheme is scheduled to start in 90 days. The MoD said that about 46,000 soldiers will be recruited under the scheme this year. According to Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhari, chief of the air staff, “Induction [numbers] will increase as the scheme progresses.”

The MoD has described the overhaul of induction into the military as a major undertaking. It will “usher in a new era in the human resource (HR) policy of the three services”, the ministry said in a statement.

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