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Athletes and NCC cadets will have an advantage when Agnipath hires people.

New Delhi: Sportspeople and National Cadet Corps (NCC) cadets will have an advantage over others when it comes to getting into the Indian Army under the Agnipath model for short-term induction of soldiers, officials said on Tuesday. The army is getting ready to start the second phase of the recruitment for personnel below officer rank (PBOR) under the new scheme that was put in place last year.

Students at the Industrial Training Institute (ITI) and people with diplomas who have specific technical skills are the third group that will be given more weight in the hiring process, officials said. Mid-February marked the start of the second phase of the army’s new model for recruiting Agniveers. Applicants can still sign up online until March 15.

As of October 1, 2023, applicants must be between 17 and a half and 21 years old.

“The army has always encouraged athletes to join the force, but this will give NCC and ITI students a head start over others,” said one of the officials mentioned above.

In the second phase of hiring, the selection process will change because the online common entrance exam (CEE) will be held before the hiring rallies. Even in the old system, the written test came after the physical and medical tests in the first phase of hiring last year. The new method will put more emphasis on how smart someone is during the selection process. It will also reduce the number of people at recruitment rallies, which will make them easier to manage and run.

In April, the first CEE will be held in 200 places all over the country.

“It would be good to give bonus points to athletes, NCC cadets, and ITI graduates during the hiring process. The army is giving more attention to the kinds of people it needs. Those who come from ITIs will have certain skills. “One of the goals of the new plan is to make a force that is technically skilled,” said military affairs expert Lieutenant General DS Hooda (retd).

The Agnipath model is a big change from the military’s decades-old way of recruiting people, which was stopped when the new plan was announced by the government in June 2022. It wants to hire soldiers for only four years, and it says that 25% of them will have to stay in regular service.

India announced the Agnipath scheme on June 14, 2022, as a replacement for the legacy system. The goal was to lower the average age of the armed forces, make the military fitter, and create a fighting force with the technical skills to meet future challenges. Over the next six years, the plan should bring the average age of a soldier in the armed forces down from 32 years to between 24 and 26 years.

The army started recruiting Agniveers for the first time last year. In early January, about 19,000 Agniveers started training at different regimental centres, and another 21,000 will report for training in March.

In January, the army released detailed criteria for judging the performance of its Agniveers. These criteria included operational aptitude, weapon proficiency, physical fitness, and tests to measure other soldierly skills. The performance review will decide who gets out of the regular cadre after four years and who gets to stay for another 15 years.

On January 16, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the Agnipath plan a “transformative policy” that would be a “game-changer” in strengthening the military and getting it ready for future challenges. He also said that Agniveers would make the armed forces “more young and tech-savvy.” When he said those things, he was talking to the first group of Agniveers from the three services.

In the first phase, more than 5.4 million people signed up for the 46,000 jobs in the three services (40,000 in the army, 3,000 in the Indian Air Force, and 3,000 each in the Indian Navy and Indian Navy). Agnivers in the air force and navy are also going through training right now.

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