ISLAMABAD: Indian National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval said on Tuesday India desired “normal relations” with Pakistan but had a low threshold for terrorism.
Relations between them were further strained after India unilaterally abolished the autonomous status of its part of Kashmir in August 2019.
“We have good relations with our neighbours including Pakistan,” Doval told ANI in an interview. “We would like to have normal relations with Pakistan but the certainly tolerance threshold for terrorism is very low.”
“We can’t have peace and war at the choice of our adversary. If we’ve to protect our interests, then we will decide when and with whom and on what terms we will have peace,” he said.
Ruling out rollback of Agnipath scheme for recruitment in armed forces, National Security Advisor of India Ajit Doval said on Tuesday that the government’s move was “not a knee-jerk reaction that has come overnight” but has been debated and discussed for over decades.
In an exclusive interview with ANI on Tuesday, NSA Doval said several committees over the decades have suggested bringing down average age of armed forces. “There is no question of any rollback (of the Agnipath scheme). Let me tell you one thing. This is not a knee-jerk reaction that has come overnight. This has been debated and discussed for over decades,” he said.
“In 1970s, we had committees that talked about reorganisation and reforming the army including the usage of manpower, technology and others,” he added.
Several opposition parties have slammed the Agnipath scheme and demanded its withdrawal.
Doval said under Agnipath scheme, every youth of this country who has got the desire and motivation and feels a sense of commitment to defend the country gets an opportunity. “His energy and talent are used to make this country strong,” the NSA said.
There have been protests against the Agnipath scheme in some states and the government has announced support measures to allay apprehensions.
Lieutenant General Anil Puri, Additional Secretary, Dept of Military Affairs, had told the media on Sunday the reform in the form of scheme like Agnipath was pending for long.
“We want to bring youthfulness and experience with this reform. Today, a large number of jawans are in their 30s and officers are getting command much later than in the past”, he had said.
Agniveers have secure future
Training, discipline during four years of service and an Army career will result in Agniveers having high stature in the society, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval said on Tuesday and noted that government and several ministries have made announcements for the absorption of youth who will be discharged after service in the Agnipath recruitment scheme for defence forces.
In an exclusive with ANI, Doval said Agniveers will have age as an asset, they have their future secured and do not need to worry about anything. He said there will be plethora of opportunities for Agniveers in a rapidly growing economy, including in higher education.
“We must have a fit, agile, young and well trained Army. Those Aginiveers who will be regularised will go through more training and become experienced over time. So Indian Army at any point of time will have large number of people who though recruited as Agniveers but are specially selected for their suitability, fitness, agility motivation and aptitude,” he said.
Doval said Agniveers will have discipline, team-work capability, skills, confidence, an all-India perspective and will be “much more equipped for society”.
“Every recruit is fresh in Armed Forces. The biggest misunderstanding has been created deliberately. This maybe because of lack of full understanding. Say, an angiveer of 22-23 years old and has done a four-year service and now he is in the market. Compare him with any other 21-122 years old youth who is not an agniveer. This person is disciplined and has the capability to work as a team. He learned skills. He developed confidence and an all-India perspective. He is trainable. So he is much more equipped for society,” Doval said.
He noted that no avenue is closed or debarred from Agniveers and they will have second career.
“Plus, Agniveers will have around Rs 11 lakh cash, they can join any course of their choice. They can go to University. They can acquire technical skills. So they will have a second career. Earlier people talk about one life and two careers. But now its one life and three careers,” he said.
“After four years of service, the training, discipline, background and the Army career, they (Agniveers) will have high stature in the society. On top of it there are several announcements by the government and several ministries for the absorption of Agniveers,” he added.
He said India’s economy is expanding rapidly and provide several opportunities after five years in the private sector.
“The first Agiveer will retire after 5 years from today when India’s economy will be USD 5 trillion. Private sectors will grow at a new pace. Defence sector is also growing at rapid pace. The asset of the Agniveers will be their age. They have their future secured. They do not need to worry about anything,” he added.
The “transformative” Agnipath scheme, announced by Union Minister Rajanath Singh on June 14, in the presence of the three service chiefs provides for the recruitment of into the Armed services of youths between the age bracket of 17-and-a-half-years to 21 for only four years with a provision to retain 25 per cent of them for 15 more years. The Centre later extended the upper age limit to 23 years for recruitment in 2022.
The Union Cabinet had also approved Agnipath scheme on June 14 and the youth selected under this scheme will be known as Agniveers.
The government had announced that 46,000 Agniveers to be recruited this year. It had said that armed Forces will have “a younger, fitter, diverse profile” to face future challenges.
The Indian Army issued its first notification on Monday for recruitment under Agnipath scheme. (ANI)