Senior retired officers of the Army have welcomed the announcement by the Punjab government that National Cadet Corps (NCC) training will be made compulsory for students of certain classes in schools and college in the border districts of the state even as questions have been raised about the feasibility of the move taking into account administrative, logistics and financial implications.
Veterans lauded the announcement made by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday that a pilot project was being launched to make NCC training compulsory for students of classes 9 and 11 in schools and first year and second year in colleges. Capt Amarinder Singh had said that the initiative could also be extended to the entire state in the future.
The decision is based on a formal proposal submitted by DEOs to the Finance Department, which Captain Amarinder accepted, saying it would help making youths employable in the armed and paramilitary forces, besides inculcating in them a strong sense of discipline.
Reacting to the move the former Chief of Army Staff, General V P Malik tweeted his appreciation of the move and congratulated Amarinder for the decision.
Former Western Army Commander, Lt Gen KJ Singh (retd) also called it a “great initiative”. He tweeted that he hoped other border states would follow suit.
While appreciating the initiative of the Chief Minister for mooting a proposal to inculcate disciplined living among the youth of the border districts, Army officers who have served with the NCC, have pointed out several issues which would have to be dealt with before the proposal could turn into reality.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Brig D S Dhillon (retd), former Deputy Director General NCC Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh, said that the move would not fructify until certain legislation was passed by the state and the Ministry of Defence was also taken on board.
“While the idea itself is very noble and this has been a long standing demand from several quarters to make NCC compulsory, but there are many aspects which need to be worked out. A heavy increase in the number of cadets would need a corresponding increase in the number of NCC units, instructors, Associate NCC Officers (ANOs) and increased funding by the Centre and the state. This can only happen when the centre gives its concurrence and makes an increase in the funding for NCC in the state,” said Brig Dhillon.
He also pointed out that NCC is a volunteer organisation and it is not possible to “order” students to join it under the present scheme of things. “The state may have to pass the relevant legislation in case students have to be made to join NCC and also it will have to be clarified whether they would be getting any weightage in examinations and jobs other than defence services. Money itself is a major issue as often it has been seen that state governments are unable to provide their share of funds to NCC and here a substantial increase in financial burden is envisaged. While the idea is definitely good but it cannot be put into effect in an off the cuff manner and has to be well thought through,” he added.
Similar sentiments were expressed by Brig Ashwini Sharma (retd), former Group Commander NCC, Chandigarh. Brig Sharma said that there are a lot of issues which need to be ironed out and these include the fact whether only government schools and colleges are to be included in this pilot project or private schools and colleges too will be included.
“Students of government schools and colleges do not have to pay anything for uniform, camps etc but private institutions have to bear the financial burden. There is also the aspect of additional manpower to be deployed for training the cadets so that there is no dilution of standards,” he said.
Brig Sharma added that if these issues were ironed out then the example of Punjab could be emulated by other states. “I do not see any reason why the Centre would not agree to the proposal mooted by the Punjab government. Punjab is a border state facing drug problem perpetuated by Pakistan and the youth of these border districts will benefit immensely due to the disciplined lifestyle that NCC will teach them,” he said.