Live updates from Agnipath Protest 21 June 2022: Prime Minister meeting with 3 department heads likely today

Security personnel outside Patna station after several trains were canceled due to protests against the Centre’s ‘Agnipath’ program, in Patna on Sunday, June 19, 2022. (PTI)

The Agnipath program provides for the recruitment of young people aged 17.5 to 21 for only four years, with the possibility of retaining 25% of them for an additional 15 years. A few days later, the government extended the upper age limit to 23 for recruitment in 2022. Staff to be recruited under the new scheme will be known as ‘Agniveers’.

Under the new program, about 45,000 to 50,000 soldiers will be recruited each year, and most will leave the service in just four years. Of the total number of annual recruits, only 25% will be allowed to continue for another 15 years under permanent commission. The move will make standing force levels much leaner for the country’s over 13 lakh strong armed forces. This will significantly reduce the defense pension bill, which has been a major concern of governments for many years.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the decisions and reforms might be unpleasant temporarily, but over time the country would benefit. Modi has kept silent about the violent protests. During a speech at an event, he said: “It is the misfortune of our country that many good things brought in with good intentions are trapped in political colors. The media is also dragged into it due to their TRP compulsions.” Highlighting the achievement of the ‘dual engine’ government and the pace of development under it, he today sought the blessings of the people of the state for it, calling it ‘the greatest strength’.

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