The Indian Air Force (IAF), in a landmark event (on 2 December) inducted a batch of female Agniveervayu (women) soldiers in its non-officer cadre for the first time.
A total of 153 Agniveervayu (women) graduated from the Airmen Training School in Belagavi, Karnataka, as part of a larger group of 2,280 recruits. They completed 22 weeks of rigorous training, according to Air Force spokesperson Wing Commander Ashish Moghe.
Wing Commander Moghe noted that this day would be a historic one in the IAF's annals as the inaugural batch of Agniveervayu (women) marched in unison with their male counterparts.
“This day would be etched in IAF’s history as the first batch of Agniveervayu (women) marched shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts,” he said.
The passing out parade was reviewed by Air Marshal R Radhish, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the IAF’s Training Command.
While the Indian Army currently only inducts women in the Personnel Below Officers Rank (PBOR) cadre in the Corps of Military Police, it is expected to expand opportunities for women in other areas soon.
This new recruitment model, introduced last year, represents a significant change from the traditional, long-standing system, aiming to rejuvenate the armed forces with younger, more technically skilled personnel.
The Agnipath scheme, announced by the defence ministry on 14 June 2022, replaces the old recruitment system.
It is designed to lower the age profile of the armed forces, ensure a physically fit military, and create a technically adept war-fighting force ready for future challenges.
The scheme offers a four-year term of service, with an option to retain 25 per cent of the soldiers in regular roles for an additional 15 years after further assessment.
Air Marshal Radhish congratulated the award-winning recruits and commended all the Agniveervayu for their impressive parade. He highlighted the evolving global security landscape and stressed the importance of using the combat skills learned at the training school to achieve military objectives.
Wing Commander Moghe added that the parade signified the end of their foundational military and specialised training. This training not only included physical conditioning but also developed the intellectual and moral faculties of the Agniveervayu, crucial to the ethos of an air warrior.
The Agniveers receive an annual salary starting at Rs 4.76 lakh in their first year, rising to Rs 6.92 lakh in the fourth year. They are also covered by a non-contributory insurance policy of Rs 48 lakh, with an additional ex-gratia of Rs 44 lakh for service-related deaths.
Upon completion of their four-year term, Agniveers will receive a Rs 11.71 lakh Seva Nidhi severance package, including Rs 5.02 lakh of their own contributions.
Additionally, they will benefit from employment quotas in various government sectors, paramilitary forces, and other departments.
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