Army to train students in border areas?

NEW DELHI (TIP): Government on November 28 hinted at taking up pilot projects to impart partial military training to students undergoing graduation degree in border districts. Responding to a private member bill on providing compulsory military training in Rajya Sabha, defence minister Manohar Parrikar said that if the government can work out a module it can start this on a trial basis in certain districts “where there is enthusiasm, districts face border”. He said module can be prepared for 50-60 hours training that can be done over a period of time. “One can take it as a course; like the way history, maths etc, we can take one course of defence training.

But I feel, along with this, what we need is nation building, character building,” the minister said. But he ruled out any compulsory military training. Parrikar added that after consulting members, the government will come out with an “appropriate mechanism” though it may take a few months. The bill, moved by BJP member Avinash Rai Khanna during last Parliament session proposed one-year compulsory military training in the age group of 14 and 15.

Members from different political parties in the House supported the bill, which Parrikar said proved how “nationalism does not have a colour” Though the minister appreciated the intent of the bill, he said compulsory military training was not possible since it would cost as much as Rs 60,000 crore annually. “…I would have supported the bill had I been sitting there (in opposition), but I am sitting on this side in government ….I will support the bill but I will point out issues which will create problems,” Parrikar said. He pointed out that providing military training to people in the age group of 14 and 50 is impractical.

Even if government takes up the task to provide similar training to people in the age group of 17 0r 18 years to 25, it would mean training 14-15 crore eligible youth. Asserting that nation-building and character development does not happen by military training alone, Parrikar said education system must do so, but “our teaching has slipped.” He pointed out even National Cadet Corps (NCC) training has “diluted” although the strength has increased to 15.18 lakh now from 13.8 lakh 3-4 years back.

Giving a personal touch the minister said he had got admission for the National Defence Academy and then Army Corps of Engineers. “Because of some reason I could not join. So, probably, there is something genetic which attracts me to defence forces. May be that got me here,” he said.

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