India revamps military recruitment process, seeks younger troops


India is revamping the military recruitment process and seeking younger troops. PHOTO/Reuters

NEW DELHI – Military India is in the process of overhauling the recruitment process for personnel below the rank of officer. The move aims to deploy younger and fitter troops to the front lines.

India, which shares a highly militarized border with Pakistan and is embroiled in a high-altitude Himalayan dispute with China, has one of the largest armed forces in the world, with around 1.38 million personnel.

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Soldiers were recruited separately from the Army, Navy, and Air Force and typically enter service for up to 17 years for the lowest rank. Under the new system, men and women between the ages of 17.5 and 21 will be integrated into the armed forces, many of them for up to four years.

According to the Indian government, no less than 46,000 soldiers will be recruited this year on four-year contracts. Of this number, a quarter should be retained at the end of this mandate.

“This program will enhance state security and provide our youth with opportunities for military service,” Defense Minister Rajnath Singh told reporters in New Delhi on Tuesday (14/6/2022), as quoted by Reuters.

Military officials say the new system, called Agnipath, which means “fire” in Hindi, will help reduce the average age of Armed Forces personnel. “In the Indian army, the largest of its three forces, the average age will rise from 32 to 26,” said its chief, General Manoj Pande.

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“A younger profile will help train troops in new technologies more easily, and their health and fitness level will be much better,” Singh said. He added that employers would benefit from skilled workers once they leave the armed forces.

Meanwhile, Indian troops in Kashmir were reported to have killed two insurgents on Wednesday, one of whom allegedly shot dead a bank manager this month, police said. India has been fighting an Islamic separatist insurgency in Kashmir since the late 1980s.

“Indian forces killed two insurgents this morning in a shootout, one of whom, Jan Mohammad Lone, was implicated in the killing of a bank manager,” Kashmir police chief Vijay Kumar said.


Jordan Carlson

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