Hyderabad: Despite 2022’s protests, Agniveer training goes off smoothly

Hyderabad: Nearly seven months after protests against the Union government’s Agnipath scheme broke out across India, the first batch of Agniveers commenced their training in January 2023.

The first batch of Agniveers have been in training for over a week now. Unsurprisingly, the trainees have no criticism to levy on the scheme. In a media interaction organised by the Union ministry of defense, Siasat.com spoke to the first batch of Agniveers at the 1 EME (Corps of Electronic and Mechanical Engineers) Centre in Bolarum in the city.

Most of the Agniveers seemed comfortable with the scheme and were of the opinion that there was little to criticise vis-à-vis the scheme.

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“I trained for one and a half years to get selected under the scheme. I worked hard for it. Further, the training so far has been highly rewarding,” remarks Vikas, an Agniveer hailing from Delhi.

He further added that he saw little to no problem with the change in age criteria under the Agnipath scheme. “I think it is also a problem of education. Log teekh se samaj nahi paaye the scheme ko (People couldn’t understand the scheme properly).”

“Agar yojana socha hain, toh ache se hi socha hoga. Bohot bhadiya scheme hain. (If a scheme has been thought of, it would have been thought of properly. It is a great scheme.) Employment opportunities are aplenty. If one works hard in these four years, they get to succeed,” adds another Agniveer trainee from Uttar Pradesh.

Colonel Sharad Sharma, one of the officers present at the EME Centre echoed a similar sentiment. “Jo mehnat karke aayenge, woh aayenge. (Those who work hard and wish to come for training, will do so.) The age relaxation till 23 years was owing to two years of the COVID-19 pandemic which hit us in 2020. Next year onwards, there will be no need to do so.”

Asked about aspirants who may miss out owing to the age cut off, Colonel Sharma remarked that somebody might have to miss the train and as such not much could be done about it. But he insisted on the fact that the Agniveers in training would be cream of the crop.

So far 997 students have been selected for the first batch of Agniveers at EME Centre. 450 ate currently being trained and the remaining students will be arriving in the first week of March.

While criticism has surrounded Agnipath, Union defense minister Rajnath Singh maintained that the recruitment scheme would be a “game changer initiative” which will make the “Indian military one of the best in the world with youthful outlook.”

Despite the protests which were highlighted throughout 2022, the Agnipath scheme has been implemented and the training has, so far, gone off without a hitch.