62.5% of new Sainik school agreements went to BJP, RSS: Report

Of the 40 agreements, at least 25 schools are managed by leaders of BJP, RSS and affiliated organisations, the report by The Reporters Collective said.
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In a baffling revelation, it has been found that 62.5% of Sainik school agreements signed so far favoured the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its close associates. The information was availed through an RTI response obtained by The Reporters Collective.

Sainik Schools are an initiative of the Union government under the Ministry of Defence. It was introduced in 1961 to help reduce the regional, caste and class differences among the officers of the Indian Army. 

In February 2021, the Union government, during the budget, announced that they will establish 100 new Sainik schools to provide ‘CBSE Plus’ type education and prepare children for entry into the National Defence Academy.  It allowed government and private schools, and NGOs, to run them. 

In October 2021, a cabinet meeting led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved another proposal to run these schools as an exclusive vertical which would be different from existing Sainik Schools, which come under the Ministry of Defence. 

According to the report, the Sainik School Society (SSS) has signed 40 agreements so far with private entities. Out of this, 11 are directly owned by the leaders, allies and friends of the BJP, and eight are managed by the RSS and its allied organisations directly. Six schools have affiliations to Hindutva organisations, members affiliated to right-wing groups, and other Hindu religious groups. A school run by a foundation under the Adani Group has also signed the agreement. The report states that none of the approved schools are run by religious minorities in the country.

In order to ensure enrolment of more students in such schools, Sainik Schools Society offers 50% of the fee from classes 6 to 12 depending on the strength of each class. An amount of Rs.10 lakh would also be offered per annum as a training grant based on academic performance of the students in class 12.  

The schools that signed the agreement are mostly from BJP-ruled states including Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Arunachal Pradesh, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. This ranges from Shakuntlam International School in Uttar Pradesh, run by a non-profit organisation chaired by BJP MLA Sarita Bhadauria, to Tawang Public School in Arunachal Pradesh, owned by the state’s Chief Minister Pema Khandu. 

According to former Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Sainik Schools contribute more than 7,000 officers to the armed forces. Over 11% of Sainik School cadets joined the armed forces in the last six years. 

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Wednesday, April 3, condemned the participation of private players to run Sainik Schools in India and said that the move reinforces communalising education and has the potential to impact the secular standards of the country’s military establishments. “This new policy is just not about sharing finances and infrastructure on a Public Private Partnership model. The schools that are entering into agreement with SSS and the government include a significant number of institutions with avowed RSS and BJP links,” the statement read. 

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