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10. Compulsory Military Training
An Allahabad graduate writes:
"I am a registered graduate of the Allahabad University. I am entitled to vote for a candidate seeking election to the Allahabad University Court.
Exception has been taken to my opposition to making military training compulsory in the universities. On this point I seek your opinion through the columns of Young India. My view briefly is this: I admit that under a Swaraj Government our young men would be required to take to the army as a career and we shall have to encourage that spirit. But under an alien government I feel there is absolutely no security that these university corps would not be used against the Indian nation, as the Indian army has been used in the past. Moreover, would it not be adding another link to the chain of moral slavery, if our young men are compelled to take up military training? Does it not clash with the ideal of a university, where at least we can expect a free atmosphere for growth? Would it not cast our ideals in a militarist mould? My information about foreign universities is limited, but so far as I could gather I understand there is no compulsion even in universities of free countries like England and America. Even if we ignore political considerations, should we not allow the individual his freedom of conscience to preserve which large numbers of Englishmen went to jail during the war? All of them were not afraid to die.
These are considerations which deserve fullest attention. On the other hand, compulsion in physical training I would gladly support ó as a matter of fact, I advocate. I feel that, if it is made compulsory, all the requirements of a university would be met.
We should not shut the doors of the university against those who hold different views on life or politics. There is already too much of cramping in these institutions." As a pacifist by religion I heartily endorse ail that my correspondent says about compulsory military training in the universities. But the argument seems to be sound even from the purely utilitarian and national standpoint. Not only can there be no security against the use being made of university corps for purposes antagonistic to the national interest, but whilst the Government retain its anti-national character there is every likelihood of these corps being used against the nation on due occasions. What, for instance, could prevent a future Dyer from using these university men for enacting another Jalianwalla Bagh? May not young men themselves offer their services for an expedition against the innocent Chinese or the equally innocent Tibetans when their subjection is felt necessary in the interest of imperial commerce? Some of the young volunteers who served during the war justified their action by saying that thereby they gained experience in the art of warójust the reason which consciously or unconsciously prompted some of the Frontier expeditions. Those who run empires successfully have an instinctive knowledge of human nature. It is not deliberately bad or wicked. It acts excellently under a high impulse. And thousands of young men, who, before they join any corps, must take the oath of allegiance and must on scores of occasions salute the Union Jack, will naturally want to give a good account of their loyalty and willingly shoot down their fellowmen upon receiving from their superiors orders to fire. Whilst, therefore, even as an out-and-out believer in Ahimsa I can understand and appreciate military training for those who believe in the necessity of the use of arms on given occasions, I am unable to advocate the military training of the youth of the country under the Government so long as it remains utterly irresponsive to the needs of the people; and I should be against compulsory military training in every case and even under a national Government. Those who do not wish to take the military training should not be debarred from joining public universities. Physical culture stands on a different basis altogether. It can be and should be part of any sound educational scheme even as many other subjects are.
Young India, 24-9-1925