Editorial: Keep Armed Forces Apolitical

Editorial: Keep Armed Forces Apolitical

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Friday, April 12, 2024, 12:55 AM IST
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Representative Pic | File

The Indian armed forces remain one of the most respected institutions in the country because of their dedication to duty, loyalty to the nation, and willingness to make the supreme sacrifice. They have proved it time and again, both during war and natural calamities. They have always been kept aloof from politics. That is precisely why the newly formed government in India did not permit the merger of Subhash Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army (INA) with the Indian Army. Instead, the INA was disbanded. While many countries that became independent in the forties and fifties came under army rule, there was never an occasion when the Indian army’s integrity or motives were questioned. It has always remained above suspicion. It is difficult to say whether the highest apolitical standards of the armed forces are still maintained.

Take the case of the Sainik schools. There are, in all, 33 such schools run by the Sainik Schools Society under the defence ministry. They were set up with the aim of catching soldiers, especially officers, at a young age. Students selected through a merit-cum-means system are given regular education with an emphasis on equipping them with the ability to lead the armed forces from the lowest rank to the highest rank. These schools have stood the test of time and the requirements of the armed forces. The Modi government’s decision to enrol girls in these schools was excellent, as no ranks in the armed forces are now barred for women. They can even aspire to become the general, the admiral, and the air chief marshal. Equally praiseworthy was the decision to increase the number of Sainik schools.

In a letter to President Droupadi Murmu, who is the Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces, Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge, who is the leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, asked for a withdrawal of the decision to hand over such schools to private entities. Under a private-public partnership agreement, private parties would run such schools, for which the government would provide a certain amount as subsidy. It is Kharge’s contention that most of the parties who benefited from the scheme are those close to the RSS, the umbrella organisation under which comes the ruling BJP. The government has flatly denied the allegation. If there is an element of truth in Kharge’s letter, the decision will strike at the roots of the apolitical and secular nature of the armed forces.

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