New Delhi to review army recruitment policy – media

The Indian military could reconsider its army recruitment procedures as a new government takes shape

New Delhi to review army recruitment policy – media
FILE PHOTO. Indian servicemen take part in the joint Russian-Indian exercise, August 09, 2021. © Sputnik / Kirill Braga

Speeding up defence tendering procedures will be another key priority for the military as a new government takes shape

Reviewing army recruitment policy and modernizing defence platforms are among the key priories for India’s newly formed coalition government, according to national media reports.

Rajnath Singh, a senior figure in Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), took charge of the Defence Ministry for a second consecutive term on Monday. He had held the role since 2019, after serving as home affairs minister since 2014.

While the BJP did not secure a majority in the recent election, along with its regional allies in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) bloc it won the largest number of seats – paving the way for a coalition government. Key ministers in the previous cabinet – including the home, foreign, finance and defence ministers – have retained their posts, signalling a continuity of previous policies.

“Safeguarding India’s border will remain our topmost priority and we shall continue protecting India’s integrity and sovereignty,” Singh wrote on X (formerly Twitter) on after the portfolios were officially announced. “Under the visionary leadership of PM Modi we shall rededicate ourselves to strengthen ‘Make in India’ and take defence manufacturing and exports to greater heights.”

Over the past decade, India’s defence exports have increased by over 30 times. In the last financial year (2023-24) they reached $2.6 billion – representing growth of 32% over the previous year’s figure. At the same time, New Delhi continues to be the world’s largest importer of arms, according to data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

Singh has consistently promoted self-reliance in the defence sector and championed the manufacturing of indigenous weapons.

Further and faster modernisation of military platforms will be a priority for the military under the newly formed government. Singh is expected to oversee a push to speed-up the tendering process for defence platforms, which now takes anywhere from five to ten years, and ensure further ease of doing business for the industry and foreign players, BusinessLine suggested. This would help clear long-pending deals for new military acquisition, and speed up the construction of domestic defence manufacturing facilities.

Singh could also oversee an overhaul of the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO), the key national agency for designing and developing military platforms.

Another key focus will be on the Agnipath scheme, adopted in 2022 to recruit lower ranks of military personnel on a contract basis for four-year terms. The scheme emerged as a major issue in the election: it has been criticized by both the opposition, which promised to cancel it, and BJP’s key allies in the NDA bloc, who have already raised the issue of Agnipath and called for a detailed discussion on it.