Central govt to hire one million by 2024

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NEW DELHI : Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday directed the central government to recruit 1 million people over the next 18 months amid rising unemployment before the 2024 general elections.

In a tweet, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said Modi reviewed the status of human resources in all departments and ministries and instructed the recruitment to be done in so-called mission mode.

The direction from the PM came on a day the Union cabinet approved a new recruitment scheme for youth to serve in the armed forces. The scheme, called Agnipath, will offer youngsters a chance to join the armed forces for at least four years. The youth selected to join the armed forces will be called Agniveers.

As worries grow about jobless growth in India with private sector investments still to pick up, the government wants to step in to fill in the gap. Nearly 5 million people join the workforce in India annually, and a lack of job opportunities for them can lead to unrest among a crucial demographic ahead of the national elections in 2024, when Modi is expected to seek a fresh mandate from voters.

The recruitment drive in the armed forces is expected to be followed by other government departments. Officials privy to the development said the process of identifying new positions in railways and other infrastructure-focused ministries has started, and applications would be invited soon.

A government statement said that the Agnipath scheme has been designed to enable a youthful profile of the armed forces.

It will provide an opportunity to the youth and attract young talent who are in tune with contemporary technological trends and plough back skilled, disciplined and motivated manpower into society, the statement added. The average age profile of the Indian armed forces is expected to come down by about 4-5 years after the implementation of this scheme.

The scheme, which comes into immediate effect, is a major defence policy reform introduced by the government. The policy will hereafter govern the enrolment for all three services.

Agniveers will be given an attractive customized monthly package and risk and hardship allowances as applicable in the three services. On completion of the engagement period of four years, they will be paid a one-time ‘Seva Nidhi’ package, which shall comprise their contribution including accrued interest thereon and matching contribution from the government equal to the accumulated amount of their contribution including interest. This amount is expected to be in the range of 11-12 lakh and will be tax-free. The monthly emoluments will be in the range of 30,000, which will increase by 10% annually.

Agniveers will be provided life cover of 48 lakh for the duration of their engagement in the armed forces.

During this period of service, the Agniveers will be given various military skills and experience, discipline, physical fitness, leadership qualities, courage and patriotism. After this stint of four years, they will be sent back into civil society where they can contribute to the nation-building process, a government statement said.

The new recruitment would form a distinct rank in the armed forces, different from any other existing ranks. Upon the completion of four years of service, based on organizational requirements and policies promulgated by the armed forces from time to time, Agniveers will be offered an opportunity to apply for permanent enrolment in the armed forces. Up to 25% of each specific batch of Agniveers will be enrolled in the regular cadre of the armed forces.

Individuals selected for enrolment in the armed forces as regular cadre would be required to serve for a further engagement period of a minimum of 15 years and would be governed by the existing terms and conditions of service of junior commissioned officers/other ranks in the Indian Army and their equivalent in Indian Navy and Indian Air Force and that of non-combatant enrolled in the Indian Air Force, as amended from time to time.

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