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India Inc bullish on Agnipath scheme, vows to hire soldiers in 4 years


Corporate India has gone all out to support the government on the ‘Agnipath’ scheme, which triggered a mass agitation across the country. Top business leaders on Monday promised to hire the soldiers (Agniveer) once they retire from active military services in four years. The stir against the controversial military scheme has continued for several days now.

Capturing the gesture, Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in a Twitter message that top industry leaders were hailing ‘’the pathbreaking scheme of the Modi government as a much-needed reform to strengthen the Armed Forces and a great opportunity for the youth to serve the nation.’’

N Chandrasekaran, chairman of the salt-to-software Tata group called the scheme a great opportunity for the youth to serve the nation. He added Agnipath would help the industry including the Tata group get a pool of disciplined and trained youth. ‘’We recognise the potential of the Agniveers and welcome the opportunity this represents,’’ he said in a statement.

Highlighting the employment potential of Agniveers in the corporate sector, another business leader, Anand Mahindra, said these soldiers provide market-ready professional solutions to industry. The chairman of the Mahindra group pointed out that the Agniveers can cover ‘’the full spectrum from operations to administration and supply chain management”.

The Union government has approached top 85 Indian companies including Reliance and Bharat Forge to hire Agniveers once they retire four years later and the feedback has been positive, Lt Gen Anil Puri, additional secretary, ministry of defence, told a TV channel on Sunday.

Welcoming the opportunity, Harsh Goenka, chairman of RPG group, said, “I do hope other companies will join us to take this pledge and assure our youths of a future.”

CEOs are of the view there’s no better place than the armed forces for training the youth. Countries like Switzerland, Israel, Singapore mandatorily make their citizens undergo military training and values of nationalism and discipline are taught by the military to build character and strength of a nation, said Sajjan Jindal, chairman of JSW group. “For a young country like ours, having access to a larger pool of disciplined and educated young individuals – Agniveers– for by organisations is a boon. Four years of military training will groom the individuals get the best jobs available in the market,” Jindal said.

“The Agnipath scheme will have a significant positive impact on society, and contribute greatly to nation building. Agniveers will play a key role in furthering economic growth and strengthening society in the coming years,” said Sudarshan Venu, managing director of TVS Motor Company.

Some CEOs, however, wondered if four years were enough for the training. “It would depend on the candidate and not automatically guarantee that ex-servicemen of Agnipath would be good candidates. We have few ex-servicemen currently on our payrolls and find years of training make them committed and diligent in work,” said Ameera Shah, MD of Metropolis Healthcare, a national diagnostic chain.

Bullish on the prospects, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, founder chairman of pharma major Biocon, said Agniveers will have a distinct advantage in in the industrial job market.

According to Sanjiv Bajaj, chairman and MD of Bajaj Finserv, Aginveers, after leaving the defence forces, can be inducted into various domains of the corporate sector. “For example, those who are getting technical training, such as in military communication, navigation, and electronics, can be absorbed in the telecom or IT sectors. Those who are getting trained in engineering will be suitable for infrastructure and those who are getting trained in vehicle maintenance can be easily absorbed by the automotive sector.”

He suggested “a career and skill assessment of Agniveers towards the end of their career in services to assess their fitment in industry and thereafter, if required provide industry orientation training programmes to make them readily employable”.

(Dev Chatterjee with inputs from Sohini Das, Shine Jacob and Shally Mohile)


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