Over the past week, protests have raged across the country against the central government’s proposed Agnipath scheme. They have been particularly violent in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana and Telangana, states which to the armed forces. The government has made two changes in response – it has raised the enrollment age limit to 23 from 21 initially and offered Agniveers a 10 percent quota in some government jobs – but insisted that it the scheme.
Under the scheme, men aged between 17.5 and 23 would be recruited to the armed forces for a four-year service, including the training period. Once the four-year period ended, 25 percent of these “Agniveers” would be reenlisted.
Meanwhile, union home minister Amit Shah and the BJP chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana – Adityanath, Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Manohar Lal Khattar, respectively – have announced that “preference” would be given to Agniveers in recruitment to central forces, state police and other government departments.
The same state departments which have been unable to fill thousands of vacant posts.
Adityanath's Uttar Pradesh, for example, has 4,16,779 approved posts across its civil police, district reserve police, India Reserve Battalion, and state special armed police, of which only 3,00,160 posts are filled, according to data from the central government’s Bureau of Police Research and Development. The state has 1,16,619 vacant posts.
The police in Uttar Pradesh are also not adequately trained, according to a retired officer from state police.
“The training of police personnel is being reduced in the state. Their training duration is reduced,” he said. “Hence, the police personnel were ill-skilled in doing their jobs.” Uttar Pradesh spent only 0.78 percent, or Rs 157.65 crore, of its police budget on training in 2020-21.
It’s a similar situation in Shivraj Singh Chouhan's Madhya Pradesh. Of the 1,16,184 approved police posts, only 89,293 posts are filled and 26,891 lie vacant. Due to this shortfall, the police often work and have been demanding an increase in pay.
Haryana, where Manohar Lal Khattar is chief minister, has 52,883 serving police personnel out of an approved strength of 72,606, and 19,723 vacant posts. According to government data, the state needs 248 police personnel per one lakh population; it currently has only 180.
Across all states in the country, there are 26.31 lakh approved posts in police forces of which only 20.69 lakh are filled.
According to the Uttar Pradesh Police Recruitment & Promotion Board, the state government recruited 1,44,194 candidates between April 2017 and February 11, 2022. Around 43,703 of these vacancies are from before 2017.
Earlier this month, additional chief secretary Awanish K Awasthi that by December 2023, the state government plans to recruit 40,000 more people to the police – referring to vacant posts from 2020-21 that have not been filled so far.
In Haryana, from 2017 to 2021, the government declared several recruitment drives for a total of 26,395 posts in the state police (see , , , and ), but the recruitment was delayed. For instance, a drive announced for 7,298 positions in March 2020 had its results declared only in June 2022.
Madhya Pradesh announced recruitment drives for a total of 25,671 posts between 2017 and 2022 (see , , , and ). Some of these processes are still underway.
Additionally, central forces have thousands of vacant posts. The central armed police forces include the Central Reserve Police Force, Border Security Force, Central Industrial Security Force, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, Special Security Force, National Disaster Response Force, National Security Guard, Railway Protection Force and Assam Rifles. NSG and NDRF are recruited through deputation.
The BSF has the highest vacancies – 34,194 – followed by CRPF with 28,330. Assam Rifles has 8,290 vacancies, CISF 24,121, ITBP 5,509, NDRF 6,287, RPF 7,620, and SSB 18,645.
Combining gazetted and non-gazetted posts in the armed forces, there are 1,29,292 vacancies in total. Amit Shah might have promised to populate them with future Agniveers, but why have these posts remained vacant for years?
Hiring of ex-servicemen
While defending the Agnipath scheme, the central government reiterated that it will give preference to Agniveers while recruiting to government departments. It’s proposed a in some departments and central forces.
Yet shows a drop in ex-soldiers being hired for government jobs. This data is collected by the department of ex-servicemen welfare under the defence ministry. Ex-servicemen are typically hired in banks, central forces, PSUs and central government departments. These posts are classified across groups A, B, C and D, with each group reserving a certain number of posts for ex-servicemen.
But there’s a shortfall, as the table shows below.
In central public sector undertakings, for instance, 14.5 percent of posts under Group C are reserved for ex-servicemen, but the ex-servicemen recruited comprise only 1.15 percent of the total posts. In Group D, which reserves 24.5 percent posts, ex-servicemen make up only 0.3 percent of the total strength.
The numbers are equally dismal in central government departments, where ex-servicemen have 10 and 20 percent of posts reserved, respectively, in groups C and D. Data shows that only 1.29 percent of posts in group C and 2.66 percent in group D have been given to ex-servicemen.
This report was in Newslaundry Hindi. It was translated to English by Shardool Katyayan.
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