Centre signs deals with Hindutva-linked educational groups to run 62% of new Sainik Schools, report says

Team India Sentinels Wednesday 3rd of April 2024 06:28 PM

Photo for representation.

New Delhi: The Union government has awarded agreements to run 62 per cent of the new Sainik Schools to organizations closely associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and other Hindutva groups between 2022 and 2023 under public-private partnership (PPP) model, according to a Reporters’ Collective report.

In its report, released on Wednesday, Reporters’ Collective said: “Collated information from the Union government’s press releases and Right to Information (RTI) replies show a concerning trend. Our findings reveal that of the 40 Sainik School agreements so far, at least 62% were awarded to schools linked to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its allied organisations, politicians of [the] Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), its political allies and friends, Hindutva organisations, individuals, and other Hindu religious organisations.”

It said at least 40 private schools signed memorandums of agreement with the Sainik Schools Society between May 5, 2022, and December 27, 2023, of which 11 are owned by BJP leaders, managed by trusts that they chair, or belong to their friends and/or political allies. The RSS’s educational wing, the Vidya Bharati Akhil Bharatiya Shiksha Sansthan, which says its aim is to “build a younger generation which is committed to Hindutva and infused with patriotic fervour”, has been awarded seven such agreements.

Apart from these 18, one went to an institution managed by an RSS-affiliated organization and six other deals were given to people or organizations with close ties to “Hindutva” organisations or “far-right rabble-rousers”.

Established with the aim of nurturing future military leaders, these schools have been instrumental in producing cadets who later join prestigious institutions like the National Defence Academy (NDA) and the Indian Naval Academy.

Until recently, the Centre and state governments collaborated in running these schools. However, in October 2021, the BJP-led government introduced a significant policy shift. In that year’s Union Budget, the government had announced that it will set up 100 new Sainik Schools across India.

The government’s 2021 policy allowed private players to partner with the Sainik Schools Society and establish their own branches of Sainik Schools, with partial financial support. The rationale behind this move was to align with the National Education Policy and enhance the quality of education provided by these institutions.

Interestingly, the move did not extend to any private schools run by Christian, Muslim, or any other religious minority organizations.

Public Reaction and Concerns

As soon as the report became public, critics on social media said it was an ill-conceived move. They argued that educational institutions should remain neutral and inclusive, devoid of any ideological bias.

The Narendra Modi government’s decision to exclude schools affiliated with religious minorities has also raised questions about equal opportunities and fairness.

India Sentinels has reached out to some veterans for their reaction. Their replies are awaited.

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