The Centre should focus on strengthening the NCC and the NSS, instead of launching a new but very similar scheme.
The Centre’s plan to impart military training to 10 lakh high-school students, chiefly from rural areas, every year should seem desirable. Given, as per The Indian Express, the programme—named National Youth Empowerment Scheme (NYES)—includes a monthly stipend for the 12 months of training, it will mean much needed income for their families. Apart from this, there will be IT skills and disaster management training for the youth, creating a cadre equipped to help in case of large scale emergencies. However, what the government seems to be overlooking is the fact that the National Cadet Corps (NCC) and the National Service Scheme (NSS) were started with precisely such a vision in mind. So, instead of strengthening these, why is the government intent on creating a separate cadre? After all, senior leaders of the government had only very recently come out in support of the NCC in a controversy involving Congress president Rahul Gandhi and the NCC. Instead, the government has proposed diverting the funds meant for NCC and NSS towards funding a new cadre.
What’s worse, the government has proposed making NYES an “essential qualification” for admission into the defence services. Though some military training would be of help, given the enrolment into NYES is supposedly voluntary, this will mean shrinking the talent pool for the forces if “essential” becomes “mandatory” in practice. Also, most high-schoolers are unlikely to have much clarity on their choice of profession that early. So, deciding to not enrol with NYES will simply preclude entry into the defence services later in life for some young students. The government should focus on bolstering the NCC and NSS, and introduce the IT skills and disaster management training that it is talking about for the NYES cadre.