To my mind, making entry into the National Cadet Corps compulsory in all schools in the country would be an effective method of getting these hurdles out of the way.
The NCC is founded on very idealistic and patriotic principles. Its motto is unity and discipline, and the pledge that each cadet takes is, ‘We resolve to be disciplined and responsible citizens of our nation. We shall undertake positive community service in the spirit of selflessness and concern for our fellow beings.’
The NCC curriculum incorporates military training in small arms, social subjects, subjects related to adventure activities and those promoting national integration. Not only does the NCC help out the administration in times of calamity, it also undertakes such activities as organising blood donation campaigns, literacy programmes, and cleanliness drives; it also cultivates qualities like fitness, team spirit, confidence, courage and leadership through pursuits like trekking, rock-climbing and sailing. Youth Exchange Programmes among, at present, as many as ten countries, instil in cadets a broad-mindedness that is an asset for a citizen of any country.
India’s ex-President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam was a great advocate of compulsory NCC training at the school and college levels. In his view, it would lead to the elimination of corruption in society, promote discipline, and help protect the environment.
There has also been a suggestion from a well-known journal that the thirteen lakh NCC cadets who are spread over 607 districts could be trained and empowered to monitor the government’s ambitious rural development schemes that repeatedly fall prey to large-scale misuse of funds.
As things stand, many NCC cadets are unable to fully utilise the opportunities created for them because it would entail attending camps that would take them away from their schools and their studies quite often. Were NCC to be made compulsory, more students would be able to attend such camps, and therefore pick up more of the skills and attributes that the organisation wishes to impart to its cadets? Whenever required, the school campus itself could be used for training purposes.
Youth is the most formative period in an individual’s life. At this time, the mind is fresh and receptive and relatively innocent, and one’s energy level is high. That is why, all over the world, people talk of ‘catching them young’ when it comes to accomplishing any worthy goal. Provided it is well-conducted, the NCC programme has enough to inspire children into leading constructive and purposeful lives.
I remember reading somewhere that the IT revolution in India was engineered mostly by people below the age of 30. If the NCC is helped along to attain its full potential, it certainly has the capacity to usher in a social revolution that will transform India into a prosperous nation where the benefits of progress are shared by all.