Feisty Goans eschew armed forces

In a peculiar response to a parliamentary panel query on constraints felt by the state in opening a Sainik school branch, the Goa government says the people are not inclined to join armed forces owing to reluctance from a ‘single child norm society’, which is also economically well off.

Goa is one of the seven states, including most populated Uttar Pradesh, and union territories which do not have a Sainik school that acts as a large pool for recruitment into the Army, the Navy and the Air Force post schooling and graduation. The emphasis on such schools in every state is to give proportional representation to that geographical area in the armed forces and meet the shortage of manpower. On state requests, such schools are established.

A Goa government representative in his deposition before the parliamentary standing committee on defence presented an atypical circumstance that was holding them back from having the school.

Having a fairly settled life, their mindset was not tuned to joining armed forces owing to a peculiar situation of single child norm that couples follow, the state official apprised the panel headed by Congress MP Raj Babbar, committee sources said.

The official also stated that the country’s smallest state has Goan population of less than 15 lakh and the per capita income is very high.

 It also cited the low figure of students studying in such schools outside the state to demonstrate a general lack of interest among its people, sources said. This year only nine students appeared for entrance exams and all of them were from weaker sections of the society. The state scholarship of Rs 20,000 per annum per candidate as an incentive is also not able to draw pupils, the official deposed. 

The stand taken by Goa and other states, including UP, form part of a draft report on the Action Taken by the government on recommendations contained in the 16th report on Critical Review of Functioning of Sainik Schools.

The draft report was recently adopted by the standing committee on defence. After years of persuasion, Uttar Pradesh has submitted a proposal for setting up a Sainik School in Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s hometown of Mainpuri.

Apart from 49 acres of land, the Samajwadi Party government has also allocated Rs 1 crore as corpus for raising the school.

The other states of Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura have come up with a common problem of lack of funding, and to a certain extent availability of land, as hurdles to start a Sainik School.

The Committee criticised the defence ministry for showing little interest in pushing the states to open schools in their jurisdiction. Committee sources said, since the ministry’s reply was shoddy despite reminders, the members took oral evidence of the representatives of UP, Goa, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Sikkim and Meghalaya to get a first hand information of the ground situation.

The panel suggested that the ministry amend existing guidelines which will empower central government to take suo motu initiatives, adjusting to limitations of states. The standing committee report is expected to be tabled in the next session of Parliament in early 2014.

Comments (+)