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  • 14 Jul, 2024

New Delhi to review Army recruitment policy – Media

New Delhi to review Army recruitment policy – Media

With the new government in place, expediting defence tenders will also be a key priority for the military.

According to national media reports, reviewing the army's conscription policy and modernizing the defense infrastructure are among the top priorities of India's new coalition government.

Rajnath Singh, a senior politician from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was sworn in as head of the Ministry of Defence for a second consecutive term on Monday. He had been in the post since 2019 after serving as home minister since 2014.

Though the BJP failed to secure a majority in the recent elections, it won the most seats in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) bloc along with regional allies, paving the way for a coalition government. Key ministers from the previous cabinet, including the home minister, external affairs minister, finance minister and defence minister, have been retained in their posts, indicating continuity of previous policies. After the portfolios were formally announced, Singh wrote on X (formerly Twitter) that "ensuring security of India's borders remains our top priority and will continue to safeguard India's integrity and sovereignty." "Under Prime Minister Modi's visionary leadership, we will recommit ourselves to strengthening 'Make in India' and taking defense production and exports to new levels."

Over the past decade, India's defense exports have grown more than 30-fold. They are expected to reach $2.6 billion in the next fiscal year (2023-24), a 32% growth over the previous fiscal year. At the same time, New Delhi remains the world's largest arms importer, according to the Stockholm Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

Singh has consistently promoted self-reliance in the defence sector and advocated for indigenous production of weapons.

Under the new government, faster modernisation of military platforms will be a priority for the armed forces. According to Business Line, Singh will oversee efforts to expedite the bidding process for defence platforms, which currently takes 5-10 years, and to further ease of doing business for industry and foreign companies. This will help in awarding new military purchase contracts that have been on hold for a long time and speed up the construction of domestic defence production facilities.

Singh is also likely to oversee an overhaul of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the nodal national agency for designing and developing military platforms.  Another focus was the Agnipath programme, launched in 2022 to recruit junior ranks in the armed forces on a four-year contract basis. The scheme turned out to be a major election issue. It was criticised both by the Opposition, which announced that it would scrap the scheme, and by key BJP allies in the NDA bloc, which had already raised the Agnipath issue and given detailed opinions. Some even called for a debate on it.