Should India Follow the Israel Model for Compulsory Defence Education?

India at the global front has always been seen promoting her image of peace and non-violence. But every now and then, we hear about bomb blasts, killing, trespassing at borders with terrorism raising its ugly head. The whole blame is put on the shoulders of the army, our leaders and policies. But do you think that we as individuals can contribute in creating a peaceful environment in our country?

You must have read many patriotic tales of freedom struggle and freedom fighters taught to everyone at the time of schooling. Every kid is taught to serve the country. But as we grow up, this feeling takes a backseat. We get so engrossed in getting admission to the top institutes and making a career for ourselves that the thought of joining the armed forces and serving the nation never comes to most of us. But what is the reason for such a marked difference in thinking and feeling? Why do we need wake up calls when we know that it is the need of the day?

Maintaining good relationships with the neighboring countries is always a priority for any nation. But what if the neighboring nations keep crossing the borders due to historical or geostrategic conflicts? Huge government funding goes to keep the armed forces up to date in case of war. So, to protect peace, we have to have trained and well-equipped armed forces.

Now the question arises whether India should follow the Israel model for compulsory defence education. In Israel, every Israeli male (except ultra-orthodox yeshiva students and a small group of delinquents) and female (except for religiously observant women) from the age of 18 to 22 is required to serve three and two years respectively as a part of compulsory military services with Israel Defense Forces or IDF. Most of the men as well as women after this service keep working with the military till their middle age. Their army plays a central role in uniting the society. Along with its core role, IDF plays an important role in social as well as economic functions of the nation such as the IDF provides scholarship vouchers to its soldiers for completing their studies, acting as a training ground, and helping  unite the nation.

On the other hand, there is no such compulsion of joining defense forces in India and, moreover, armed forces in India do not play a role in uniting and governing the nation. For any kind of decision, armed forces are subordinate to the elected leaders of the country. Further, our society is demarcated to a great extent into civilians and army personnel. Patriotism is considered only for the soldiers and civilians are free from such feelings. So to keep the spirit of patriotism alive, some kind of defence training must be present. However, making it compulsory might not be a practical option in India.

In a democratic nation you cannot force anyone to pick certain subjects, as it depends upon the will of a person. But the youth can be encouraged to join the defence services. NCC and National Scout & Guide training can be made compulsory in the school-level education system in India. Though it is not necessary that after NCC training the youth will join the armed services but certainly such education will channelize their energy in the right direction and at the right age. It will also infuse a feeling to serve the country and help in creating law-abiding and disciplined citizens with basic human values that our nation lacks at present. In this way, we can create a powerful nation with high quality manpower who can handle any kind of stress and provide security whenever required.

Instead of compulsory defence education, there should be some kind of open option for voluntary services in the same field. The objective should be to groom teenagers with a sense of patriotism and full respect for the nation. The youth should be encouraged to protect the honour and dignity of the country. India needs revolutionary minds who can lend their help whenever required. Like during Indo-Pak war in 1965 when our forces needed people, some of the youth offered their services to maintain law and order. This had helped the administration to keep a vigil on war measures such as blackouts, etc. If trained properly, then the youth can withstand challenges of this kind and help the police as well as the administration at times of crisis.

A subject on military services and its importance in saving the nation should be present in every school. Also, the school curriculum can be amended in a way to accommodate physical training and kids must be encouraged to join National Scout & Guide and then the NCC.

Therefore, ways to encourage the youth towards defence must be found out rather than making it a compulsion. A well-encouraged society as a whole can bring a radical change in the nation.

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