Vidya Bharti Army School: Here’s What Armed Forces Veterans Think

Vidya Bharti Army School: Here’s What Armed Forces Veterans Think

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Vidya Bharti’s attempts at setting up an ‘Army School’ in Uttar Pradesh’s Bulandshahr district has come under criticism from veterans of India’s armed forces. Ex-servicemen have pointed out a mismatch of ethos between the army and Vidya Bharti, that would run the Rajju Bhaiya Sainik Vidya Mandir school – named after former RSS sarsangchalak Rajendra Singh.

Reacting to the school being built in Shikarpur, Major General Ashok K Mehta (retd) told The Quint that causes espoused by the the outfit and its linked organisations make it the very antithesis of the ‘secular, apolitical and professional values’ the armed forces in our country stand for.

“An organisation which is ideologically single-religion and which is anti other religions, anti-Dalit, anti-women. It is the anti-thesis of what the military stands for. The military’s ethos is apolitical. It is professional, and most importantly, it is secular. And therefore, it has no place for political and religious indoctrination, which is based on a single religion.”
Major General Ashok Mehta (retd)

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While Major General Mehta questioned the mismatch of ethos, Wing Commander GB Athri (retd) welcomed the move, but with a word of caution. Athri feels that since there has been a steady decline in the number of personnel joining the armed forces, the setting-up of any institution that inspires the youth to get enrolled for the forces is welcomed. However he says:

“It has to be kept in mind that no religion and no politics are to play a role in this kind of a training because any leaning to any religion or politics is detrimental to the armed forces, because our motto is nation first, religion later, politics further away.”

While the veterans raised concerns about the political nature of the organisation, Shikarpur resident Tushar Gupta said told news agency ANI that school committee is headed by DK Sharma, the BJP’s regional head. He also added that in addition to military training, the school would focus on ‘character building’.

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While most veterans The Quint spoke to expressed apprehensions that the organisation could bring in its own ideology in a school meant for preparing students for the armed forces, Major General MC Nanjappa (retd) said that there’s nothing to wrong in the outfit setting up an army school.

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“Armed forces are not attracting the youth in large numbers, so if they are training youth to join armed forces and motivating them, it is a good step. This right wing and left wing is created by media. RSS is known as a national organisation. They want to bring up the society and they must train people in nationalism. So I don't think we should get worried about it,” he said.

Have Nothing to do With it: RSS

Meanwhile Rajiv Tuli, the RSS’ executive committee member for Delhi said, "RSS has nothing to do with it. Vidya Bharati is an independent and autonomous organisation."

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