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New Sainik schools: Veterans say move will prepare girls for all uniformed services

Welcoming the decision, top retired military leaders said that the step will result in increased inclination among women to join not just the Armed Forces but also other uniformed services.

Written by Sushant Kulkarni | Pune |
Updated: August 16, 2021 10:51:49 pm
Sainik Schools, budget 2021, budget, budget 2021 highlights, budget highlights, budget 2021 india, budget 2021 important points, budget 2021 highlights pdf, budget 2021-22, budget 2021 key highlights, budget 2021 announcement, budget 2021 announcements, union budget 2021 announcement, budget 2021 highlights pdfAt present, there are 33 Sainik Schools across India. File.

In his Independence Day speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced that all Sainik Schools in the country will start admitting girl students.

Welcoming the decision, top retired military leaders who have worked in the military education ecosystem said the announcement should be immediately followed by infrastructural expansion. They have also said that the step will result in increased inclination among women to join not just the Armed Forces but also other uniformed services.

Prime Minister Modi said in his speech on Sunday, “I used to receive messages from lakhs of daughters of our country that they, too, want to study in Sainik Schools. Two-and-a-half years ago, in the Sainik School in Mizoram, we started the experiment of admitting girl students. The government has now decided that all Sainik Schools in the country will be open for daughters of the country.”

The announcement comes months after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her Budget speech announced the provision for 100 new Sainik Schools to be set up in partnership with NGOs, private schools and state governments.

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Sainik Schools are military schools which run under the purview of the Sainik School Society, a body under the Defence Ministry. There are 33 Sainik Schools currently across India. These institutions started coming up in the early 1960s after a policy decision by then Defence Minister VK Krishna Menon.

For funding, the Sainik Schools depend on both Centre and individual state governments for provisions required for infrastructure, expenditures and scholarships given to the students from various categories.

The students from these schools are selected through yearly entrance examinations and admitted only at the middle school level. Till the time they complete their secondary education at these schools, they receive extensive training in sports, adventure activities and extracurricular subjects alongwith routine academics with an aim to prepare students for military training institutions. The students also enrol into the formations of the National Cadet Corps (NCC) during the school years. Sainik Schools are considered ‘feeder institutions’ for the Armed forces and have seen alumni becoming top military leaders of the country.

Until recently, Sainik Schools used to admit only boys but for the past couple of years, the process to admit girls has started in some of the schools.

Under the Sainik School Society, each Sainik School has three officers from the Army, Navy or Air Force serving as Principal, Vice-Principal and Administrative Officer and also Junior Commissioned Officers from Armed forces as NCC instructors — all of whom come on deputations of limited periods. Rest of the staff is permanent staff of these schools.

Lieutenant General Rajendra Nimbhorkar (retd), who had played a pivotal role in the execution of the 2016 surgical strike, was instrumental in the launch of the Sainik School in Chandrapur when he was General Officer Commanding of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa Area.

Responding to the announcement, Lt Gen Nimbhorkar, who is an alumnus of the Satara Sainik School, said, “A few Sainik Schools are already admitting girl students starting with Mizoram. It’s a welcome announcement that all Sainik Schools will do that now. This announcements should be immediately followed by infrastructural expansion with new blocks for girl students. It will also require separate facilities wherever necessary or necessary changes if the existing facilities are to be shared. Necessary additional appointments of women trainers and medical officers will also be necessary. At Sainik Schools in Satara and Chandrapur, we have already taken steps towards admitting girl students. This step will certainly lead to a pool of better prepared girl candidates for joining the Armed Forces. For this, it will be desirable that there are more training institutions for women at higher level to accommodate this expanded pool.”

Lt Gen DB Shekatkar (retd), who led the Committee of Experts on Defence Reforms, formed by the then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in 2016, said, “This announcement is yet another step for making sure that men and women are at par with each other in the Armed Forces, including in combat roles. With existing Sainik Schools admitting girls and several more Sainik Schools coming up, we will have a generation of girl students who are not just better prepared for the Armed Forces, but also uniformed services like the police and central armed police forces. There is no doubt that children — irrespective of gender — who get good sports lessons, physical training and get introduced to military values, are well prepared for any challenge in life. We hope that some day, we will also have world class institutions on the lines of NDA for women candidates.”

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