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India mulls military training of civilians in border areas

Source: PTI
November 28, 2014 19:06 IST
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India could start some element of military training for its youth, especially in border areas, but compulsory training on the lines of Russia and other countries is ruled out.

Under the programme, which could be launched on trial basis in border areas, military training could be imparted for an hour or as a separate course as part of school and college curriculum, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar told the Rajya Sabha on Friday.

"It can be introduced as an hour in a course or as a separate course. We can work out something like that. We can start on a trial basis. Let us do in some districts in borders where there is more enthusiasm," he said while replying to a debate on a private member's bill.

"After consulting members, something will be worked out, may be in few months," he added. The bill, moved by Bharatiya Janata Party member Avinash Rai Khanna during last session of Parliament, proposed one-year compulsory military training in the age group of 14-15. It was defeated by voice vote.

Supporting the intent of the proposal in the bill, Parrikar, however, said compulsory military training was not possible in view of the huge costs of the tune of Rs 60,000 crore each year.

"...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," he said.

"The idea is excellent but the bill needs to be withdrawn as it is not possible to provide compulsory military training in age group of 14-15," he said. Khanna was not present in the House for withdrawing the bill because of which it was put to vote.

Explaining how the proposal was ‘not physically possible’, Parrikar said if the country has 16 crore youth in that age group and half of them are fit for training, it will cost the exchequer Rs 60,000 crore each year. There will also be problems on account of infrastructure and resources.

The defence minister objected to a member's contention that poor youth join military for livelihood. "Though I do agree that some consider it as 'rozi-roti' (livelihood), I disagree that youth join army to get killed for 'rozi-roti'. There has to be some pride."

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."

The National Cadet Corps training too has ‘diluted’ though the strength has increased to 15.18 lakh now from 13.8 lakh 3-4 years back, he added.

"The kind of NCC we used to have earlier is not today. It is diluted," the minister said, while disclosing that he too had to clear a course on NCC to complete his IIT.

He also shared that he wanted to join the NationalDefenceAcademy as youth but could not for some reasons. Participating in a debate, V P Singh Badnore said 50 per cent of the countries have military conscription, which is compulsory enrolment of persons for military service.

"In India, we must have this for many reasons. ...You can have selective conscription," he said and suggested the government to divert some MNREGA and NCC funds for this.

Veer Singh and Mansukh L Mandaviya (both BJP) said it was a must for inculcating discipline, patriotism and nationalism among children. Bhupinder Singh (Biju Janata Dal) and Chaudhary Munavver Saleem (Samajwadi Party) too supported the bill saying this would guide the youth towards nationalism and eliminate the problems such as extremism and separatism.

Ram Gopal Yadav (SP) said the resolution should be taken seriously even if the bill not passed. Satyanarayan Jaitya (BJP) also participated in the debate.

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