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Mainstream, VOL 62 No 19, May 11, 2024

PPP in Military Schools - Whether Modi Regime has Facilitated Insidious Militarisation of the Society? | Subhash Gatade

Saturday 11 May 2024, by Subhash Gatade


“The Leader principle, the stress on militarism, the doctrine of racial-cultural superiority, ultra-nationalism infused with religious idealism, the use of symbols of past greatness, the emphasis on national solidarity, the exclusion of religious or ethnic minorities from the nation concept-—all these features of the RSS are highly reminiscent of fascist movements in Europe.”
—-Donald Smith, India As a Secular State, Oxford University Press,1963


’It is time to impart military education to students looking at rising threat to the nation....’ [1]

It was the year 2012 when Mohan Bhagwat, the Supremo of the RSS, was speaking as a Chief Guest at a platinum jubilee of ’Bhonsla Military School’

The other key point which he made in his long speech was worth remembering "..[E]xpressing concern over the dominance of "rich and powerful people" in politics, besides the soaring inflation rate, he said that India’s situation was better during the British rule" [2]

It was a period when RSS and plethora of affiliated organisations were on the defenive because exposures in Hindutva terror acts - especially after the Malegaon bomb blasts, Samjhauta Express Blasts and the alleged involvement of Hindutva activists had come to the fore. The Supremo himself had made significant statements in this connection [3]

The ’Bhonsala Military School’ where Sangh Supremo was a Chief Guest, was no exception to these investigations. [4)]

Situation was such that it was difficult to imagine / predict that merely a decade later, Mohan Bhagwat and his predecessors long cherished dream of militarising the student-youth would reach its fruition at the governmental level.

A dream nurtured since the days of the founding of RSS which had received a tremendous boost after Dr Moonje’s tour of Italy, his meeting with Mussolini and his impressions of "The Balilla institutions" an idea conceived by Mussolini for the "military regeneration of Italy" and his resolve to develop similar institution with ’’our institution Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh" [5]

The investigation done by ’Reporters Collective’ and its representative Astha Savyasachi [6] has provided shocking details of this project. It was the first week of April 2024 when news of this ’colloborative project’ of its own kind emerging between Defence Ministry and private individuals / organisations with rightwing worldview to impart military education to students’ was released.

As expected it led to tremendous uproar in the opposition camp.
Voices were raised against centre’s move to "privatise" and "communalise" Sainik schools in the country.

Talking about this introduction of PPP model in Sainkik Schools Sitaram Yechury, General Secretary of CPI ( M) demanded that this Communalisation of Sainik Schools should stopped because it is a move ’loaded with potential to destroy secular standards’ of armed forces. [7]

2. “67 per cent of Sainik Schools to the Sangh Parivar & Allies"

The RSS plans to set up an Army school in the memory of its former chief Rajendra Singh or Rajju Bhaiyya. To be called ’Rajju Bhaiya Sainik Vidya Mandir’, the school will be set up in Shikarpur tehsil of Bulandshahr district, where the former RSS sarsangh chalak was born in 1922. The school will be run by Vidya Bharti, the education wing of the RSS, and will offer defence training to students. [8]

The report [9] revealed that union government under prime minister, Narendra Modi has decided to hand over “67 per cent of Sainik Schools to the Sangh Parivar (and its allied organisations who are self-acclaimed majoritarian and unconstitutional), BJP Politicians and allies. It meant that Sainik Schools like RBSVM – Rajju Bhaiya Sainik Vidya Mandir, are going to be a model for the future under this regime . Such schools would come up or are coming up in rest of India which would effectively rely on ‘ideologically slanted organisations to train future cadets’ for the military.

It is important to note that the emergence of these new Sainik Schools has been facilitated by formation of an “Sainik Schools Society (SSS), an autonomous body under the Ministry of Defence (MoD), to run Sainik Schools under Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model’ and government opening doors for private players to run Sainik Schools in India (2021).

What appears rather striking to any neutral observer is that despite the fact that these Sainik Schools were being promoted to facilitate entry of eligible students in the military and other security forces, the only criterion of sorts to set up such a school was one related to infrastructure. (-do-)

What is clear in the union government’s “scheme”:

“[e]nabled schools linked with the Sangh Parivar and organisations with similar ideologies to apply.”[- do-]

Till date, 40 schools have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Sainik Schools Society (SSS) and the report further explains

- how majority of the schools are either ’owned by BJP politicians, belong to friends, managed by RSS and its allied organisations
- none of the approved schools are run by Christian or Muslim organisations or any of the religious minorities of India.

An idea of the people who are being given permission to run these schools can be had from the names of individuals which the report shares. It would be opportune here to share one such name who is widely known within the larger Parivar network but also for her speeches and actions which have raised concerns at deeper and wider levels.

Sadhvi Rithambhara, called as Didi Ma in the Hindutva circles -happens to be a high profile individual from the Hindutva family. One learns that Union Home Minister Amit Shah had travelled to Vrindavan in December 2023 to wish her on her birthday.

Founder of Durga Vahini, Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s (VHP) women’s wing, and a key figure in the Ram temple movement, her fiery speeches during late 80s or early 90s during the mass movement against the five hundred year old mosque had come under scanner for provoking disaffection and discord in the society.

Even more than 30 years after that deplorable period she still remains significant within the Sangh Parivar and close to several BJP leaders.
As of now she runs two schools under this PPP scheme one in Vrindavan titled ” Samvid Gurukulam Girls Sainik School” which was inaugurated by Rajnath Singh, defence minister of India [10] and another, Raj Luxmi Samvid Gurukulam in Solan, Himachal Pradesh.

The report also carries a video link – carried on the Facebook page of the school – and also an extract of Sadhvi Rithambhara’s speech where she addresses the students about ‘honour’, traditions and rituals during a personality development camp. She can be seen commenting on how girls are “out of control” in colleges and social media.

3. Why This Policy Should Be Annuled!

Anyone who believes in Indian Constitution and understands the role of Sainik Schools – which prepare students to be made eligible for entry into Defence Services at various levels and manage to send around 25 per cent of its recruits – should feel deeply concerned with this policy of PPP model in founding of Sainik Schools. [11]

Noted educationists have also raised serious concerns over running such schools. For example, a leading educationist – Prof Anita Rampal – shared her reservations when she learnt about the role of RSS in running a military school in Shikarpur. She broadly raised three points while participating in a panel discussion [12]

  • How any such special school goes against our basic demand that till 10 years of age (at least) there should be common school system for all ?
  • How studies show that all such ’military schools’ — which are filled with male students — encourage a ’macho’ personality among students ?
  • Close on the heels of the discussions around the New Education Policy Draft presented by the Kasturirangan Committee, which even talks of role of retired teachers and retired army personnel in education, this project looks worrisome.

What is worth noting that voices of concern and caution and need for ‘further introspection’ have been raised by military personnel (retd) and security analysts as well. [13]

As already mentioned the fact that Hindutva Supremacist organisations and their affiliates would be key players in running such schools, organisations whose world view does not resonate with the Constitution is itself a worrying sign. It is not difficult to imagine how youth trained in such institutions would behave in critical situations and how their inbuilt biases - nurtured in such ideologically slanted schools - would unfold in critical situations.

Unfortunately we have around 90 year old experience of such Sainik Schools running in our country – since before independence – mainly run by organisations/ individuals close to the Hindutva Supremacists World View and this has not been very encouraging.

To recapitulate one can as well refer to the ’Introduction’ part of this note to know further details or look at‘Shadow Armies’ a book by veteran political journalist Dhirendra K Jha, – which has devoted a full chapter to the Bhonsla Military School and has discussed various fringe organisations of the Hindutva Right.

4. An insidious plan to militarise society ?

It is increasingly clear that despite critical observations of different political formations and social groups, regarding PPP model in Sainik Schools, the government remains unconcerned, remains unfazed.

Despite the fact that The Reporters Collective’s conclusions are based on response to RTI applications and other deep research and gathering of facts its observations, conclusions have been unequivocally dismissed by the Defence Ministry [14] The ministry in fact issued a statement ’refuting these assertions,’ ’emphasizing the stringent selection process employed to determine the institutions responsible for managing the new Sainik Schools’
No doubt such official responses present the establishment viewpoint and one cannot expect anything better.

The communique by Defence Ministry has not tried to answer any question raised by Mallikarjun Kharge, President of Congress in his letter to President of India, Draupadi Murmu, who was categorical in his demand for ’a complete rollback of the policy and annulment of MoUs signed in this regard.’ [15]

His letter to President Murmu underlined the concerns behind this demand :

There is growing concern that with this move the well enshrined convention since independence to keep armed forces away from any partisan politics has been broken ;

Secondly, this move is an integral part of the present ruling dispensations plan who have undermined institutions after institutions, to thrust their ideology

Thirdly, imparting slanted knowledge in such institutions will not only destroy inclusiveness but also damage the national character of the Sainik Schools by influencing their character through partisan religious/corporate/family/social/cultural credos


Government’s refusal even to at least acknowledge that there is problem in conceiving the scheme or how it has facilitated entry of rightwing formations in the picture, or what sort of anarchy unemployed students who have received training from such ’ideologically slanted schools Sainik Schools spread all over India, can create is worrying.

This refusal to look at valid criticism reminds one the increasing intransigence shown by the Modi dispensation on the eve of elections about the much controversial Agnipath Scheme.

In fact Congress Leader Shashi Tharoor had linked this issue with Agniveer scheme also.

He called the move by the Centre a ’shocking disregard’ for the standards of these schools.’ Linking the issue with the ’Agniveer’ scheme which is already an ’assault on the professionalism of our armed forces’ he underlined this move effectively ’compounds the shocking disregard for the standards that have made our sainiks among the most respected in the world. [16]
For the ruling dispensation the only ’gain’ from this Agniveer scheme will be in terms of material benefits.

One, it will be able to say goodbye to 75 per cent of this force after four years of contractual service in the military

Two, it will be saved from paying them pension and other benefits.
In financial terms the it will be a ‘win win’ situation for the government because as of now it has to pay around 2.6 lakh Crore Rs from its defence budget of around 5 lakh crore Rs as part of payment and pension to the armed personnel.

But in the hurry to implement this scheme it has not thought over it holistically :

It has not deliberated over the fact that such contract based appointment in the military weakens its resistance power in crucial situations.

How can an Agniveer with merely six months of training confront military personnel of ‘adversary countries’ which receive training for at least two years in various situations.

Why the government wants to earn the label that it has been very cavalier in security matters – right from preparing personnel to defending the borders..
What stops it from scrapping it when the writing on the wall should be clear to it that it will face electoral reverses in crucial seats – thanks to the rising anger of the youth?

With youth opposing it, ordinary citizens resisting it, with military leaders questioning it and even own party leaders finding themselves confused over it, should not the government be ready to reverse its steps in the wrong direction.

Could it be said that the intransigence has roots in the larger agenda of the Hindutva Supremacist ideology – which drives the ruling dispensation- which has since its inception been keen to ‘arm the faithful’ in very many ways against the ‘infidels’ or against the ‘enemies of dharma’ ?

It would be height of innocence if one thinks that Modi government and plethora of its advisers have not thought over the possibility that every year thousands of such youth – who have received arms training and have gotten arms licence – enter the broader society as unemployed youth and what sort of ambience they would help generate or what sort of social anarchy they can help create.

Whether it wants to convey the impression that it desires such an army of unemployed youth in the society which would be cannon fodder to exclusivist ideology of Hindutva?

Youths who have received training from Sainik Schools - running in PPP mode - under ’ideologically slanted organisations or Youth who have been kicked out of the military merely after four years of contract based employement - such a combination left unattended can portend a big danger to whatever remains of the secular fabric of India and signals a violent future for the Republic

Towards ‘Army of the Faithful’?

It is an open secret that in societies – which have witnessed tremendous militarisation of the populace – where so called majority is not only armed but has even received training in their usage, then in conflict situations – veering around religious or communal grounds – the majority community is able to unleash tremendous miseries on the ‘minorities’ – who are deprived of such opportunities.

Violence in Manipur is a disturbing example of this phenomenon - which has just completed one year and it still simmers. [17]

We will not go into details of the violence there or how Modi dispensation at the centre has failed in normalising the situation despite a BJP led government in the state but it is crystal clear that the ethnic conflict between Meitei and Kuki Zo communities has been exacerbated by distribution of arms among the wider populace. It is on record how police armoury was looted and arms were stolen from it and most of the arms have still not been recovered. [18]

Security Expert and analysit Sushant Singh- who had been associated with Centre for Policy Research- in his article in Al Jazeera provides details about social effects of such militarisation and the grave impact such arming of people has on societal violence. [19] He provides details about the ethnic cleansing undertaken in Yugoslavia – after its slow disintegration – or how Rwanda in Africa witnessed massive killings of minority Tutsi and some middle roaders Hutus at the hands of armed militia of Hutu tribe. According to rough estimates there five to six lakh sixty two thousand people were killed in the on-going massacre in Rwanda between 7 th April 1994 to 15 th July 1994.

We ourselves – as well as the rest of the world is aware about the violence at the time of partition of Indian subcontinent – which witnessed killings of around 10 to 20 lakh people of various communities and more than 12 million people were forcibly displaced from their abode. Studies also underline that those areas of Punjab – on both sides of the border – witnessed more violence which were more armed. Remember people from Punjab use to join the British army in significant numbers and number of such retired military personnel was quite significant on both sides.

Looking at the fact that majoritarian violence is on ascendance in the Indian subcontinent, the minority communities are being targeted in very many ways and such violence has support of the people in power and the media also looks biased, it is of key importance that we remain vigilant

Today situation is such that there are open calls of genocide of religious minorities in so called religious or other conferences but not only the executive keeps quiet and barring exceptional cases the role of the judiciary also leaves much to be desired. [20]

In such an explosive situation it is easy to imagine what sort of social impact such unemployed youth – who have received training in the army for four years or have been trained in Sainik Schools under "ideologically slanted organisations" – can create in the society.

This happens to be the thirtieth year of the Rwanda Genocide and all attempts should be made that such crimes against humanity are now history now. There is much to learn for us looking at the fact that it has what the author calls ‘[e]erie parallels in today’s India’ [21]

Let us hope that the ruling dispensation takes a more dispassionate look at both these schemes -one, PPP in Sainik Schools and two, Agnipath scheme - which is for a four year contract in the military - and decides to scrap them to win goodwill among the society and clear apprehensions.

If it could scrap the "three black farm laws" then what stops it from scrapping these schemes.

If it fails to do it then it will be the responsibility of the newly elected government to review this decision of the Modi II dispensation, scrap it forthwith and recover secular and professional character of the Indian military.

References and Notes :


[2] It was no ordinary school but a proper military school founded by Dr B S Moonje, mentor of Dr Hedgewar and one of the founders of RSS for the ’military regeneration of Hindus’ , ’to educate them in Sanatan Dharma’- and had been established with British support in an ambiance when the anti colonial struggle was at its peak.

As an aside one can remember that apart from Dr Hedgewar, and Dr B S Moonje, Dr L V Paranjpe, Dr B B Thalkar and Baburao Savarkar – V.D. Savarkar’s brother were present at the inaugural meeting of RSS on Vijaya Dashmi – Ref : Page 16, Khaki Shorts and Saffron Flags, Tapan Basu, Pradip Datta, Sumit Sarkar, Tanika Sarkar, Sambuddha Sen-

3. RSS Supremo Mohan Bhagwat while addressing a meeting of RSS members on 10 th January 2011 at Surat (Gujarat) made significant statement saying that,
of the majority of the people whom the government has accused (in various blast cases) a few had left voluntarily and a few were told by the Sangh that this extremism will not work with here so you go away ! (No Place for Radicals in RSS, says Bhagwat, “The Indian Express, 11 January 2011, p 3)

4. The school, ..has been linked to various attacks by Hindu extremists in the recent past. The Maharashtra Anti-Terror Squad, for instance, found during its investigation of the 2008 Malegaon blasts that several of the accused had been trained at BMS. Witnesses and co-accused told the ATS that they had participated in meetings with senior RSS leaders and their affiliates to plan the bombings, and that these had taken place on BMS premises.
5. In one of the first exhaustive writeup "Hindutva’s foreign tie-up in the 1930s: Archival evidence” in Economic & Political Weekly, January 22, 2000 Marzia Casolari has provided details of this trip
7. (
8. ; ;
19. https://www-aljazeera-com/news/2022/6/16/analysis&new&india&army&plan&may&have&devastating&consequences
20. ;;

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