The best becoming doubtful
On Sainik School, Imphal

Seram Neken *

Cadets of Sainik School who have cleared the written examination for the NDA on November 26 2011
Cadets of Sainik School who have cleared the written examination for the NDA on November 26 2011 :: Pix - TSE

Forty years of glorious past of the Sainik School Imphal has apparently gone awry with the visible administrative lacunae of the institution. Granting leave by Col. Ravi Kumar, the Principal of Sainik School Imphal to the cadets of Class XII en-masse prior to Board Examinations from December 1 last is a matter of grave concern. The Board of Governors and Local Board of Administration of the School must explain its existence in this matter.

If there is a moment of my life I wish to reminisce, it is undoubtedly my childhood. It would be for many others too. However, it is a different story for me when I recollect my childhood as my elder brother's school was always a point of discussion in my house.

My brother and his friends left an impression in my parents' mind when it came to the issues of discipline, behaviour, confidence and more importantly the turn out; we then used to call 'Being Smart'. Right from the dawn, the making of the bed, the clothes being at appropriate places, folded on the same crease, my parents often reminded me to follow suit. The short holidays and long vacations of my brother were always a classroom of learning not only for me, but also for my friends and relatives.

Besides, the Republic Day Celebration was a treat to watch. The school band followed by the contingent of cadets wearing well-ironed starched khaki shorts and shirts receiving applause and loud claps every step is still a vivid memory. On the lighter vein, young girls from different schools took pride in having a boyfriend from Sainik School.

Undoubtedly, a Sainik School product till today, baring few exceptions, stands out from the crowd wherever he is, including my brother. The glory of the school reached the peak of our happiness when the Rashtriya Raksha Mantri Trophy for contributing the maximum number of cadets to National Defence Academy was awarded to Sainik School Imphal.

However, as a family member, I feel concern when something appears in the public domain regarding the school. Of late, many reports have appeared regarding the affairs of the school inviting public debate as to how the school is being managed or administered. The news breaking item informing the public that all the cadets of the school belonging to Class XII have been given leave en-masse by Col Ravi Kumar reportedly on the basis of applications from the parents has raised many eyebrows.

The reports clearly mentioned that a mass leave was given to Class X cadets much before the Board Examinations by the same Principal in the past. Many of the cadets had to stay in rented houses and attend private coaching classes. The truth is with the cadets and the parents. The silence being broken in a slow motion with agony has far reaching consequences, if the reported events are true. Shall we be hearing more undesirable stories in the near future?

The people of the state whose hopes of a greater nation are with today's children and especially those in the premier institutions such as the Sainik School are not happy with the turn of events. The state has entrusted the children to the safest hands right from a very tender age to groom them in every sphere of challenging situations, including discipline, academic and physical aspects.

Cadets may come. Cadets may go. Principals may come. Principals may go. But our Sainik School will remain with its ethos and strong traditional values. Therefore, what makes the school different from others has to be retained and nurtured by all. The Sainik School Imphal is the only school unaffected by the present turmoil facing the state. To let the cadets leave the school before the Board Examinations notwithstanding requests from any quarter is something the public cannot digest for they are expected to be in the campus till the last day of the examinations.

Reports clearly mention that cadets of Classes X and XII have to be in the school even during the winter vacations. The collective responsibility of the school is exhibited as they care for the children even during the long vacations, which all appreciate. The revision of the syllabus, mock examinations and preparatory study as the routine unaffected by the outside world are vital for our children. We all share the happiness of the excellence of the cadets in every sphere in its glorious past of forty years.

Why has this culture been breached all of a sudden is a strange news to many of us who love to regard and pray for the school.

The questions being thought aloud in the streets of Imphal and many other rural areas reach us. If the cadets have really requested to go home and avail of private tuitions, which the parents endorsed, the symptoms of some ailments of the school are surely becoming public and visible. I am compelled to ask the same question many are asking today:

Has the best educational institution of the state failed to deliver? Is the school going to let us down? Does the administration have no concern for our children or are they running away from their responsibilities?

The government of Manipur may not have a direct hand in the administration of the school as it is managed by the Union Ministry of Defence. However, the lives and career of our children are undoubtedly our responsibility. What happens in Sainik School Imphal is important to all of us.

A large sum of public money is being invested every year in the form of scholarships for the cadets and infrastructure of the school by the state. All these are being done for the bright future of a generation, which will take care of the state and people some day.

Sainik School Imphal exists because of the unique Rules and Regulations of the institution. Upholding these rules and regulations should be the only premise in maintaining the reputation of being the Sainik School. Else it may not be then called Sainik School. No arbitrary decision of the administrator should prevail over the existing rules and regulations. Parents of all the cadets have obviously thought well before sending their children to such a residential school. It is also important for the people of the state to respect the rules of the school too.

Or are there much deeper issues, as reported, which have led to such a situation? If there are stories within, it is a matter of time. Truth will surface any day. What has gone wrong in the school recently is also now audible and being discussed openly in the public. Our only desire is to see that Sainik School Imphal remains one of the best educational institutions in the entire country. A person who heads this institution must lead by examples. He represents the nation of great vision, hope and discipline. The decision he takes is vital to the career of the cadets.

* Seram Neken sent this article to Hueiyuen Lanpao (English Edition) as part of "The voiceless speaks"
This article was posted on December 19, 2012.

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