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Three services have shortage of 1.35 lakh personnel against authorised strength: Govt data

NEW DELHI (PTI):  The three services are reeling under a shortage of 1,35,784 personnel with the Army having the maximum vacancies at 1,16,464, according to details provided by the government.

The total shortage includes officers and soldiers.

In a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha on Monday, Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt said the average annual recruitment in Army, Navy and Air Force is 60,000, 5,332 and 5,723 respectively.

The minister did not give a direct reply to a specific question on whether the average recruitment figure is more than the proposed annual intake of 'Agniveers' and, if so, how the shortage of manpower in the armed forces will be met.

To this, Bhatt only said the matter is sub-judice in the Supreme Court.

Asked whether it is a fact that the Indian Army has not recruited any person in the last two years, he said "no".

On the total shortage of manpower in all three armed forces, including both officer and non-officer rank personnel, Bhatt said the shortage in the Army as against the authorised strength was 1,16,464 as on January 1.

The shortage in the Army was 64,482 personnel on January 1, 2020.

He said the shortage in the Navy as against the authorised strength was 13,597 as on May 31, while that in the Indian Air Force was 5,723 as on July 1.

The three services have started the recruitment process under the 'Agnipath' scheme.

The scheme, announced on June 14, seeks to recruit youths in the age bracket of 17-and-half and 21 for only four years with a provision to retain 25 per cent of them for 15 more years. For 2022, the upper age limit has been extended to 23 years.

Several parts of India witnessed violent protests against the scheme last month with the agitators demanding its rollback as the new model does not provide a job guarantee to 75 per cent of the recruits.

Under the scheme, the three services are planning to recruit 46,000 soldiers this year.

The youths who will be recruited under the new scheme will be called 'Agniveers'.

A major objective of the 'Agnipath' scheme is to bring down the average age of military personnel.

The Rajya Sabha Secretariat uploaded Monday's questions on its website on Tuesday.

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