Hiring soldiers for four years, with effective service of three years, is not at all militarily a good idea – Capt Amarinder Singh, Former Punjab Chief Minister

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Former Punjab chief minister and Bharatiya Janata Party ally Amarinder Singh has suggested a rethink on the Centre’s Agnipath scheme for recruitment to the armed forces, wondering why the government had to make such ‘radical’ changes.

“It will dilute the long existing distinct ethos of regiments,” said Amarinder Singh, who is a former Army captain told PTI.

According to a statement, he wondered why the government needed to make such ‘radical changes’ in the recruitment policy, which has been working ‘so well for the country for so many years’.

“Hiring soldiers for four years, with effective service of three years, is not at all militarily a good idea,” said Amarinder Singh, whose party Punjab Lok Congress is an ally of the BJP in Punjab.

The Centre on Tuesday unveiled the ambitious scheme for recruitment of the youth aged between 17 and a half and 21 in the Army, Navy and the Air Force, largely on a four-year short-term contractual basis.

The youth recruited under the scheme will be known as ‘Agniveers’. The move triggered protests across the country, with several political parties and the youth criticising the decision.

Amarinder Singh too opposed the ‘all-India, all class’ recruitment policy.

He said different regiments like the Sikh Regiment, Dogra Regiment, Madras Regiment and so on have their own distinct ethos, which is very important from the military point of view and which seems to have been overlooked.

He said it will be very difficult for recruits from different cultural backgrounds to adjust to a culturally different environment that is exclusive to a particular regiment and that too within such a short span of time, which effectively comes to less than three years.

The already existing short duration tenure system of seven and five years is fine, but four years, which once training and leave period are excluded, effectively comes to less than three years, will not be workable, he said.

“It will never be workable for a professional army which is faced with tough challenges on both eastern as well as western theatres,” he remarked.

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