Whether it was Harshini Kanhekar, India’s first woman firefighter, or Major Priya Jhingan, the first female cadet to be admitted to the Indian Army, for years, women have struggled to break into male bastions and carve a niche for themselves.
In yet another milestone, 15 girls became the first set of female candidates to be admitted to a state-funded UP Sainik school after competing with over 2,500 aspirants.
A proposal to include girl students was sent to the Uttar Pradesh government last year.
In its history spanning almost 57 years, this UP Sainik School in Lucknow decided to finally open its doors to 15 girl cadets in class 9 for the academic year 2018-19. The students came from different family backgrounds like doctors, teachers, police officers and even agriculturists.
Speaking to PTI, School Principal Colonel Amit Chatterjee said that the new cadets would undergo a strenuous routine. Their day would begin with PT exercises at 6 am., and they would have to be ready for assembly prayers at 8.15 am.
“After classes, they would return to their hostels; after a brief rest, participate in sporting events, before taking up studies at 7 pm,” he said.
Lt Col Uday Pratap Singh, who is the school’s Registrar, said that of the 2,500 applicants who appeared for the entrance examination, these 15 girls were selected, based on their scores and performance in the interviews.
The school has improved its existing infrastructure to accommodate the girls with its resources where it has vacated one of the boys’ hostels, to make space for the girls.
This Sainik School was also the first such school to be established in the country to prepare students for the Armed Forces. It has been nurturing young talent for over 57 years now. It led to the establishment of 27 other Sainik Schools in other parts of India.
“During its journey, the school has had the honour of producing more than 1,000 military officers, and the first Sainik school in the country whose student was awarded Param Vir Chakra (Manoj Pandey),” Mr Singh proudly added.
ST Mishra, a teacher at the school, said, “The admission of girl students will also prove to be helpful for the boys as it will enable them to adjust and accommodate in the new environment. It will also help in providing a holistic perspective to the boy students.”
The school is run by the UP Sainik School Society with the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh as its chairperson. It is fully funded by the state government. The day-to-day administration of the school is under the Local Board of Administration (LBA) with the Commissioner, Lucknow Division, as its Chairman and Principal of the school as the Secretary.
The Sainik school was renamed after martyred Kargil war soldier, Captain Manoj Pandey in July 2017, who also happened to be an alumnus and the first student from a Sainik school to be awarded India’s highest military award, the Param Vir Chakra during in 1999. Capt Pandey who died during the attack on Jubar Top, Khalubar Hills in Batalik Sector, Kargil, was referred to as the ‘Hero of Batalik’.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)