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Cong wants rollback but Agnipath scheme is adding vigour to 'Nari Shakti' in Armed Forces

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New Delhi, Feb 26 (IANS) The Agnipath scheme launched by the Narendra Modi government on June 14, 2022, heralded a ‘refreshing’ change in the Armed Forces, aimed at cutting extra flab and making the 1.4-million-plus security forces leaner and fitter.

The move, hailed as gamechanger by many defence experts, is set to augment India’s defence capabilities and would also add more teeth to the country’s defence preparedness in times of a multi-front war.

The recruitment of soldiers for shorter tenure in the three services of Armed Forces came under fresh attack by Congress on Monday, as party President Mallikarjun Kharge wrote a letter to President Droupadi Murmu, stressing the ‘gross injustice’ meted out to about two lakh men and women, seeking appointment in the Armed Forces.

Kharge in the letter to President Murmu, wrote, “These young men and women had believed that their dreams were awaiting to be fulfilled but that got shattered after the government decided to end this recruitment process and replace it with the Agnipath Scheme.”

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The Congress President claimed that Agnipath scheme was creating a ‘parallel and discriminatory’ cadre of soldiers in the Army and will prove ‘detrimental’ in the long run while party spokespersons Sachin Pilot and Deepender Hooda went a step ahead and demanded a rollback and also promised scrapping of policy, if the party is voted to power.

Contrary to Congress’ charges, the Agniveer scheme launched a year ago is only getting ready to reap benefits, as is evident from the numbers.

The Army’s ‘selection programs’ and ‘recruitment rallies’ for hiring Agniveers has turned out be a runaway success as it has seen wide participation of enthusiasts and aspirants. Army aspirants, including men and women have flocked the camps, organised all across the country.

Inducting ‘Nari Shakti’ in defence forces, a key objective of government has also received a boost under the Agnipath scheme. Lot of women Agniveers have been ‘shortlisted’ and are awaiting their first brush with the Armed Forces.

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In December 2023, the Indian Air Force inducted its first batch of women Agniveers in non-officer roles, thus marking a new era in gender equality in the Defence forces.

Air Force spokesperson Wing Commander Ashish Moghe told the media how a batch of 153 ‘Agniveervayu’ (women), a part of larger group of 2,280 recruits graduated from the Airmen Training School in Karnataka.

A couple of women have also been inducted as Junior Commissioned Officers. In 2019, the government had set a target of inducting 1,700 women. As many as 100 vacancies of this scheme were covered by the Agniveer recruits.

Indian Navy is also not far in putting the women Agniveers on the forefront. According to reports, more than 1,000 women women Agniveer sailors have been inducted and many of them will be see deployment very soon, as early as next month.

According to top sources in Defence Ministry, some media outlets have reported that three batches of Agniveer have received the go-ahead and the first batch, comprising about 275 women Agniveers will soon head for their respective postings and assignments.

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To bring gender parity in the Armed Forces, Modi government has also opened the doors of National Defence Academy for recruiting women. Also, ‘Nari Shakti’ in Armed Forces found a display during 74th Republic Day parade, as women officers led the marching contingents of the Armed Forces, CRPF, Akash missile system and Army’s Daredevil team.

For the unversed, the recruitment for Agniveers is for 4-year-period only, however, there exists probability of their extension for 4 years and also absorption of about 25 per cent of them as ‘permanent soldiers’, for which their skills will serve as the sole parameter.

Remaining 75 per cent of Agniveers will be handed over ‘retirement’ with a severance package that includes a good lump sum payment and monetary assistance for setting up a business or finding new employment.

–IANS

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Haryana to soon start recruitment of 'Van Mitras'

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Chandigarh, June 16 (IANS) Haryana Chief Minister Nayab Singh Saini on Sunday announced that recruitment of ‘Van Mitras’, who will be given an honorarium to take care of newly planted tree saplings, under the ‘Van Mitra’ Scheme will begin soon.

Presiding over a review meeting of the Forest and Wildlife Department, he also warned that if there is a delay in extinguishing the fire in forests, “accountability will be fixed from forest guards to senior officers”.

He directed the officers to ensure arrangements for supplying water from canals or tube-wells to national parks like Kalesar, Sultanpur and other dense forests so that this water can be used by wildlife during extreme heat and to aid in extinguishing fires.

The CM directed the officers to regularly map existing plants and those planted annually under the plantation campaign using drones.

He reviewed in detail the annual plantation drive conducted by the Forest Department and directed that these plants be geo-tagged and their growth should be monitored for five years with the help of drones.

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The Chief Minister was informed that a budget of Rs 150 crore has been allocated for the plantation drive for 2024-25, while Rs 10 crore will be spent on herbal parks.

He also said illegal cutting of trees from the forest areas will not be tolerated, and if any employee is found to be complicit, action will be taken against them.

He also released a brochure for the ‘Pran Vayu Devta’ scheme. The Chief Minister was also informed that under the scheme, the state government plans to provide an annual pension of Rs 2,750 to those who take care of trees over 75 years old. So far, 3,819 such trees have been identified under the scheme.

–IANS

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Eknath Shinde defends Sena leader Waikar's LS poll victory, dismisses oppn's 'EVM malfunction' claims

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Mumbai, June 16 (IANS) Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena supremo Eknath Shinde on Sunday strongly defended the victory of his party leader Ravindra Waikar from Mumbai North West constituency against Shiv Sena (UBT) candidate Amol Kirtikar while dismissing the opposition’s charges of malfunctioning of EVMs at the counting centre.

The Maharashtra Chief Minister also questioned the opposition’s move to raise doubts over the EVMs’ functioning only in case of Waikar’s victory.

“The people of the constituency have elected Ravindra Waikar, and it is a people’s victory. The opposition is misleading the people over the EVM,” Shinde said while taking a swipe at the opposition, reiterating that Waikar had been elected by the people.

Waikar has rebutted the opposition charges, saying that it has been done because of its defeat.

“There were policemen, candidates and the candidates’ representatives present at the counting centre. So how can Ravindra Waikar go in and do something different? I don’t know how this is possible. The Opposition is unable to digest its defeat and therefore these allegations are made,” he said.

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Meanwhile, the Returning Officer of Mumbai North West Constituency Vandana Suryavanshi has also denied the malfunctioning of the EVMs.

”EVMs are standalone devices without any wired or wireless connectivity with units outside the EVM system. Advanced technical features and robust administrative safeguards are in place to rule out any possibility of manipulation. Standards include conducting everything in the presence of candidates or their agents,” the Returning Officer said.

The denial by Shinde, Waikar and the Returning Officer came after the Opposition alleged that there was a malpractice in the counting of votes in Mumbai North West constituency.

Waikar defeated Kirtikar by just 48 votes.

Waikar’s brother-in-law has been accused of taking a mobile phone to the counting centre.

–IANS

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We all will work for the nation, says Rijiju says after meeting Kharge

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New Delhi, June 16 (IANS) Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kiren Rijiju on Sunday met Congress President and Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge for discussions ahead of the coming session of Parliament and asserted that all will work for the betterment of the country.

The first session of the 18th Lok Sabha is scheduled to commence on June 24 and will go on till July 3. The oath-taking ceremony of new MPs and the election of the Speaker will be held during the session.

Rijiju, in his social media post, said that he had a “pleasant” meeting with the opposition leader, who shared many experiences of his own life.

“I had a pleasant courtesy meeting with Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha and Congress Party President Shri Mallikarjun Kharge ji. He shared with me about many valuable experiences of his life. Together, we all will work for the nation,” he said on X.

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Rijiju, a BJP MP from Arunachal Pradesh, was made a Cabinet Minister in the third consecutive NDA government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in charge of Parliamentary Affairs and Minority Affairs. While he earlier served as the Minister of State for Home Affairs, Minority Affairs and Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Sports and Youth Affairs, he was made the Law Minister in 2021 and later shifted to the Earth Sciences and Food Processing Industries Ministries.

–IANS

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Eknath Shinde tells party cadres to start preparations for Maha Assembly polls

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Mumbai, June 16 (IANS) Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena supremo Eknath Shinde on Sunday told the party leaders, ministers, MPs, MLAs and office bearers to start preparations for the upcoming Assembly elections.

Eknath Shinde also stressed on launching the membership drive and focussing on updating the electoral rolls.

The Maharashtra CM, who reviewed the preparations for the Shiv Sena’s 58th anniversary on June 19, said that the party has retained its strongholds including Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar, Konkan, Thane and Palghar.

“… and now, the time is to further consolidate Shiv Sena’s position in the rest of Maharashtra,” he said.

The Chief Minister also said that the party’s anniversary would be celebrated in a “big way”.

Eknath Shinde congratulated all his colleagues for the success of the party in the recently held Lok Sabha elections but asked them to correct the mistakes made in the general elections and to prepare more efficiently for the upcoming assembly elections.

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He said even as people are supporting the Shiv Sena, the party leaders and workers will have to work more vigorously to change the wrong narrative set by the opposition about the change in the Constitution.

Eknath Shinde said all efforts will be made during the assembly elections so that the opposition would not repeat wrong narratives.

He said that all Hindu festivals like Dahihandi, Ganapati, Dussehra, Diwali should be celebrated with much enthusiasm including Ashadhi Wari of Pandharpur.

Meanwhile, the Maharashtra CM announced that the government will implement a tree plantation campaign in every district to tackle climate change.

He directed all district collectors to plant one lakh trees in each district. In addition, he added that the Shiv Sena will also conduct a similar campaign across the state.

–IANS

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Bengal LoP requests Governor to ensure retention of CAPF till Durga Puja

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Kolkata, June 16 (IANS) The Leader of the Opposition in the West Bengal Assembly Suvendu Adhikari on Sunday requested Governor C.V. Ananda Bose to initiate the process for retention of 400 companies of central armed police forces (CAPF), already in the state, till the Durga Puja in October in wake of the post-poll violence that has broken out in different pockets since the counting for the Lok Sabha polls on June 4.

Adhikari made this request after meeting the Governor at Raj Bhavan, along with a group of victims of post-poll violence.

The Governor told Adhikari that he would do whatever was necessary to arrest such instances of post-poll violence in the state.

Later speaking to the media persons the Governor said that he promises in the names of all great men born in West Bengal that he will go to the extreme in this matter.

Quoting a recent order of the Calcutta High Court, the Governor said that it seemed that he was under house arrest.

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“Those who are victims of post-poll violence were not earlier allowed to meet the Governor,” he said.

He also said that he has received a total of 1,025 complaints related to post-poll violence.

Adhikari told media persons that he has informed the Governor that the pillars of democracy are under attack in West Bengal. “The ration cards of around 5,000 individuals in the state have been snatched away,” he alleged.

–IANS

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