Militarising Minds, Hindutvaising the Nation | Training Future Military Leaders Imbued in Hindutva Supremacism?

How the policy of PPP (Public Private Partnership) Model in Sainik Schools is counter to all Constitutional principles and values
Representation Image

In a controversial and much reviled decision, the union government under prime minister, Narendra Modi “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. This investigation was undertaken by meticulous examination by the Reporter’s Collective and became public on April 3, 2024. This piece looks at the gross implications of this move.

“It’s the day of resurrection…”:

Swami Avdheshanand Giri after Pran Pratishtha ceremony in Ayodhya[1]

1.  A Memorial For a Supremo

‘Rajju Bhaiya Sainik Vidya Mandir’ Shikarpur Tehsil, Bulandshahr.

It was October 2020 when a Sainik School for boys was inaugurated in Shikarpur Tehsil of Bulandshahr District.[2] Right from Indresh Kumar, or Ram Lal, to Mahant of Junagarh Avadheshanand Giri, a seer supposed to be close to the proponents of Hindutva, many leading lights of the RSS and its frontal organisations or co-travellers of their ideology attended the high profile function.

The event made headlines for several reasons:

One, it was called the ‘first Sainik School of RSS’.

Two, a whooping sum of Rs 40 crores was supposed to be spent over it – thanks to the largesse extended by the union (Modi) government.

Thirdly, it was one of those rare occasions when RSS had moved beyond its founder member Dr Hedgewar to build memorials. Remember Rajendra Singh alias Rajju Bhaiya (1922-2003) was the first non-Brahmin and non-Maharashtrian Supremo of RSS from 1994-2000.  This Sainik School is located in the same place where he (Raju Bhaiya) was born.

Normally, an idea to start a school is met with jubilation. This one however had the opposite effect.  There were voices of concern raised by educationists, social activists as well as political leaders,

The added concern was that Vidya Bharati, the education wing of the RSS – which already runs 20,000 schools across India – would now also be running this military school although there was a clarification that this Army School will follow the CBSE curriculum and will have classes running from Class 6 to Class 12.

The same Vidya Bharatii (of the RSS’) whose stated mission is  

“To develop a National System of Education which would help building a generation of young men and women that is committed to Hindutva and infused with patriotic fervour”. [3]

Questioning the whooping sum of Rs 40 crores which would be spent over it, Akhilesh Yadav, leader of the Samajwadi {arty (SP) and former Chief Minister of UP, had, at the time, underlined that since we already have enough such institutions “[r]un by the government so where is the need for RSS to run its own army school,”[4]

He did not hide his apprehensions about what curriculum be taught there.

“RSS apparently wanted to serve its political purpose by opening the army school where the students will “probably be taught lessons in mob lynching and disrupting social harmony”.[5]

The concern expressed by many about this project could not be brushed aside easily. It is a different matter that in today’s mediatised world, things move with such a speed that the issue of a RSS run military school , the RBSVM – Rajju Bhaiya Sainik Vidya Mandir – and the attendant furore soon died down. Little did anyone carry the premonition that the founding of RBSVM was just a trailer of what lay in store: asli film abhi baaki thi‘.

2. Sainik Schools for Swayamsevaks??

Centre hands over 62% of new Sainik Schools to Sangh Parivar, BJP politicians and allies[6]

We were woken up from this momentary slumber by an investigative report published by Reporters Collective a team of dedicated investigative journalists and researchers – which has also been responsible for intrepid investigations on crucial issues that have generated public debate. What is remarkable that their key concern in taking up this work has been the failure of the mainstream media to ‘hold the powerful accountable to citizens.’ This report investigated by Astha Savyasachi was no less thorough and concerning.

What it effectively brought forth was that Sainik Schools like RBSVM – Rajju Bhaiya Sainik Vidya Mandir, are going to be a model for the future under this regime (until it remained in power). 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.

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.

‘[a]s per the approval policy document  infrastructure was the only specified criterion that made a school eligible for approval. ‘Thus any school which had the SSS specified architecture like – land, physical and IT infrastructure, finanical resources and staff etc could apply to become one such school.’ [7]

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

“[e]nabled schools linked with the Sangh Parivar and organisations with similar ideologies to apply.”[8]

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

According to the RTI responses, at least 40 schools have signed MoUs with the Sainik Schools Society between May 05, 2022 and December 27, 2023. A closer review by The Collective reveals that out of the 40 schools, 11 are directly owned by BJP politicians or managed by trusts chaired by them, or belong to friends and political allies of the BJP. Eight are managed by RSS and its allied organisations directly. Additionally, six schools have close ties to Hindutva organisations or far-right rabble-rousers, and other Hindu religious 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 two such names who are widely known not only for their stature within the larger Parivar network but also for their speeches and actions which have raised concerns at deeper levels.

One of them is run by Mahant Balaknath Yogi, the incumbent BJP MLA from Tijara in Rajasthan.[9]  Anyone who has closely followed the assembly elections in Rajasthan would recall that he is called as ‘Rajasthan ka Yogi‘ by his followers and reports had appeared in a section of the press which had said that if BJP regains power in Rajasthan then he would be in the running to get the top post.

It is a different matter the BJP leadership decided otherwise because of its own considerations.

Apart from Mahant Balaknath Yogi, Sadhvi Rithambhara, called as Didi Ma in the Hindutva circles -happens to be another high profile individual from the Hindutva family.

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. Controversial for her speeches leading to the demolition of Babri Masjid in December 1992, historian Tanika Sarkar described Ritambhara and her speeches as “the single most powerful instrument for whipping up anti-Muslim violence.” The Liberhans Commission which probed the Babri Masjid demolition in Ayodhya, accused 68 people including Ritambhara of leading the country “to the brink of communal discord.”[10]

Even more than 30 years after that deplorable period she still remains significant within the Sangh Parivar and close to several BJP leaders. One learns that Union Home Minister Amit Shah had travelled to Vrindavan in December 2023 to wish her on her birthday.

As of now she runs two schools under this PPP scheme one in Vrindavan titled ” Samvid Gurukulam Girls Sainik School” 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.

It does give one an idea about what sorts of thing would be taught or silenced.

No doubt it does not need profound wisdom to understand the content of education in all these schools. Would it be any different from the sectarian worldview which is taught in other RSS run schools where the mission itself is to build “[a] generation of young men and women that is committed to Hindutva and infused with patriotic fervour”.


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.

There are many reasons which demand that this policy should be finally dumped:

  • One, noted educationists have raised serious concerns over running such schools
  • Two, defence personnel have similarly raised serious objections to such schools
  • Three, Hindutva Supremacist organisations and their affiliates would be key players in running such schools, organisations whose world view does not resonate with the Constitution
  • Four, 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
  • Five, the first decade of the 21st century witnessed emergence of what is popularly known as Hindutva terror groups, who were engaged in terror acts within the country. Right from the Nanded Bomb Blast (2006) to the Malegaon Bomb blasts, we have few such examples where fanatic Hindus tried to engage in terror acts.

Courts are still dealing with these cases but prima facie evidence suggests that such fanatics had an initial exposure to radical ideas and even received training at such schools

Let us take up these reservations one by one:

One, it would be opportune here to revisit how 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[11]:

  • How any such special school goes against our basic demand that till ten years of age

(At least) there should be common school system for all?

  • How studies show that all such ‘military schools’ – which are all filled with male students – encourage a ‘macho’ personality among students.
  • Close on the heels of the discussions around New Education Policy Draft presented by Kasturirangan Committee, which even talks of role of retired teachers and retired army personnel in education this project looks worrisome.

Two, as we already mentioned it was the year 2021 when the present ruling dispensation had taken a significant step in the direction of setting up of 100 Sainik Schools in partnership with NGOs, private schools etc. What is worth noting that voices of concern and caution and need for ‘further introspection’ were immediately raised by military personnel (retd) and security analysts.

In his exhaustive piece Lt General Prakash Menon had cautioned ‘Don’t rush into Sainik School public-private partnership. It can dilute and corrut’[12] )  He emphasised that ‘The preservation of Sainik School ‘ethos’ cannot be done without the Ministry of Defence being in control.’[13]

His observations were about composition of students who would take up admissions in such schools, absence of any ‘multi-cultural’ character and most of them coming from a restricted pool and a majority of them anchored in narrow worldview:

Private/NGO schools have local students and may not be multi-cultural. The existing boarding schools available for incorporation will be from a restricted pool with most of them being privately administered. The majority of them will be anchored in narrow religious/corporate/family/social/cultural credos, which could run counter to the essential ethos of Sainik Schools acting as a melting pot for limited identities and catalysing the creation of a large Indian national one. This is a major flaw in the proposal and is derived from structural incompatibility of the proposed partnership model.[14]

He was worried also about the nexus developing between the Union and Private parties to promote an ideologically slanted education much removed from values enshrined in the Constitution and also the long-term strategic consequences of some of our future military leaders imbued in Hindutva/cultural nationalism

The potential greater danger is that of a nexus developing between the Union and the private parties to promote an ideologically slanted version of education that is far removed from the values enshrined in the Constitution. Take, for instance, Vidya Bharathi, one of the oldest and largest groups with a national footprint. Its mission is: “To develop a National System of Education which would help building a generation of young men and women that is committed to Hindutva and infused with patriotic fervour”.

Would such an outlook be compatible with the preservation and promotion of the Sainik School spirit? The long-term strategic consequences of some of our future military leaders imbued in Hindutva/cultural nationalism can remain a part of political debate. But from a national security perspective, decision-making on the issue must preserve national interests that are derived from constitutional values. This will require the political leaderships to put the nation ahead of their parties.[15]

Three, the fact that Hindutva Supremacist Organisations would be key players in such schools should definitely become a matter of concern.

Nobody can suddenly develop amnesia over the fact that Hindutva Supremacists organisations – few of which have been active before independence itself – have a controversial past about which they themselves or their ideological descendants have to do lot of explaining. A number of articles have been written about the fact that such formations did not participate in the freedom struggle and in fact, when broad masses of Indian people were united for anti-colonial struggle, by its actions they tried to weaken the unity.[16]

Their leaders had tremendous fascination for the ‘final solution’ offered by Hitler and yearn to implement it here as well.

In fact, when the newly independent nation embarked on having a new constitution for it – based on one man – one vote – which resolved to do away with all the age old privileges based on caste, gender, race, ethnicity etc, it had opposed its making and had even vouched for ‘Manusmriti’ as its Constitution.

Forget the feverish attempts by the present custodians of such organisations to sanitise their own past and package themselves in a more attractive manner, there are going to be genuine questions about what sort of worldview these future soldiers would be taught in schools which would be run under their or their affiliates guidance.[17]

It would be the height of innocence to think that it would not be an exclusivist worldview of the parent organisation which is premised on an ‘us’ and ‘them’ thinking and which has still not deemed it necessary to admit women in its fold, when equality between different sexes is an established idea.

Perhaps, more importantly, such formations have always maintained that military education is important for students citing rising threat to the nation.[18] Of course, there is nothing unique about this fascination for arming people and providing them military education, if one compares it to other exclusivist organisations.

Four, like every exclusivist ideology/organisation/formation which claims to be centred around a particular religion – may it be Islamism, Zionism, fanatic Buddhism – Hindutva has always entertained a dream of preparing/arming its followers to fight the ‘others’ and slowly albeit not so silently moving closer to usher into its dreamland of Hindu Rashtra. Its ideologues/leaders have been candid enough to point out to the faithful’s the ‘internal enemies’’ and ways to deal with them or exterminate them. All these preparations dotted by regular drills, games and other militant exercises serves as a counter to the much publicised notion by the same people that ‘Hindus are Cowards’.[19]  Or the canard that, “Islam was spread through the sword” which has been an item of belief for the Hindutva fundamentalists.

It was in the mid-1930s when a proper military school was established by Dr B S Munje, mentor of Dr Hedgewar and one of the founders of RSS which was aimed “…to bring about military regeneration of the Hindus” Apart from Dr Hedgewar, and Dr B S Munje, 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.[20] This military school was to be built on the lines of the The Balilla institutions an idea conceived by Mussolini for the ‘military regeneration of Italy’. Anyone can see that from day one its doors were closed for non-Hindus.[21]

In one of the first exhaustive write-up “”Hindutva’s foreign tie-up in the 1930s: Archival evidence” in Economic & Political Weekly, January 22, 2000 Marzia Casolari [22] had provided details of Dr Munje’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

India and particularly Hindu India need some such institution for the military regeneration of the Hindus: so that the artificial distinction so much emphasised by the British of martial and non-martial classes amongst the Hindus may disappear. Our institution of Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh of Nagpur under Dr Hedgewar is of this kind, though quite independently conceived. I will spend the rest of my life in developing and extending this Institution of Dr Hedgewar all throughout the Maharashtra and other province..[23]

It describes how after the death of its founder Munje, merely six weeks after Gandhi’s assassination, it faced a tremendous crisis and it was the role of the RSS activists there which helped it revive.

The Bhonsala Military School was thus revived. But the revival came at a price. With Ghatate acting as Nagpur’s key aide in the whole exercise, the management of Moonje’s school was silently taken over by men belonging to the RSS. “The shift took place during the period between 1953 and 1956,” says Major (Retd.) Prabhakar Balwant Kulkarni—who witnessed the shift and who had been attached to the school in different capacities from 1956 to 2003—in a detailed interview that took place in Nashik. [24]

Five, the project of running a military school under such formations is worrisome also because of earlier experiences which were concretised with the intervention and involvement of Hindutva activists.

e.g. More than a decade back when exposures in the Malegaon bomb blast case were taking place and terror modules belonging to Hindutva formations were under scanner- thanks to the painstaking work done by the then ATS chief Hemant Karkare – an organisation called Maharashtra Military Foundation (MMF) based in Pune run by – Lt Col Jayant Chitale, a retired air defence artillery officer had also made headlines.

In an interview to the ‘Outlook’ reporter[25] Jayant Chitale told him that he had

“Over 1,000 of my boys serving in the three services today. Each one has been brainwashed by me. They are motivated, determined and will do anything for the nation.”

The visitor’s book which Chitale has carefully preserved lists the names of all the young men who were trained under him. Entry on February 20, 1993 tells us that Shrikant Prasad Purohit, Law College, Pune was also enrolled here. The same Purohit, who later became Lt Col in army and was an accused in the Malegaon bomb blast case under various sections of the UAPA and Indian Penal Code with others.

Coming back to the ‘Rajju Bhaiya Sainkik School’ a section of the media is claiming that this is going to be the ‘first Sainik School’ being conceived and run by RSS.  This claim is not based on facts.

Bhonsla Military School (BMS) founded by Munje – leader of Hindu Mahasabha and one of the founders of RSS itself – is a living example that for the last sixty years, RSS or its activists are effectively running the school, which has run into controversy one after the other.

In fact, ‘Shadow Armies’ a book by veteran political journalist Dhirendra K Jha, – which has devoted a full chapter to the Bhonsla Military School – takes a close look at burgeoning of fringe organizations such as the Sri Ram Sene, the Hindu Yuva Vahini, the Sanatan Sanstha and the Hindu Aikya Vedi apart from few affiliated organisations of the RSS itself which according to the author ‘stir up trouble, polarize communities, incite violence in the name of Hindutva.’ It is common knowledge that there is a very symbiotic relationship between the BJP and these ‘Shadow Armies’.  They have accompanied BJP’s steady advance over the last three decades from two Lok Sabha seats in 1984 to 282 in 2014.

The school remained under scanner of security agencies during first decade of 21st century.

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.[26]

Not only in the Malegaon blasts, ATS investigating the Nanded Bomb Blast Case ( 6 April 2006) which had witnessed deaths of two Hindutva activists while making bombs had discovered that the Himanshu, one of the deceased had organised a training camp at the Bhonsala Military School in Nagpur, apart from other camps. The charge sheet and narcotics analysis of accused in the Nanded blast case made it very clear that a training camp was held in the Bhonsala Military School at Nagpur attended by 100 to 115 people in May 2000 from all over the country.[27]

4. In Lieu of a Conclusion

Much has been written on RSS run schools and their pedagogical programme.[28]

A glimpse of the critique can be had from one such study published quite some time back. (Teaching to Hate: RSS’ Pedagogical Programme, Nandini Sundar, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 39, No. 16 (Apr. 17-23, 2004), pp. 1605-1612 (8 pages) Published By: Economic and Political Weekly,

To paraphrase from the above mentioned study, if schools are one of the modes in which nations imagine and reproduce themselves, debates over schooling system are, at heart, debates over style and content of this imagining

Looking at the fact that in today’s India when the RSS and its affiliated organisations and its worldview is on ascendant, and its notion of citizenship, patriotism and nationhood have a wider constituency, it is easy to imagine whether such Sainik Schools being run under PPP model would be seriously inculcating Constitutional Principles and Values among students when the only requirement is that you need to have an infrastructure to run a school?

Definitely not.

Elections are round the corner and whenever a new government takes over, concerned citizens, civil liberty organisations, educationists as well as political formations should impress upon the new government to review this policy and decide to discontinue it.









[9] . ;

[10] .

[11] .





[16] ;




[20] Page 16, Khaki Shorts and Saffron Flags, Tapan Basu, Pradip Datta, Sumit Sarkar, Tanika Sarkar, Sambuddha Sen, Orient Longman



[23] From Munje Diary,


[25] ‘Godse’s War, Nov 17, 2008



[28] ;,




Related Articles