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Saffronisation of Navy, too!
By MC Menon, Thiruvananthapuram

What was the real dilemma faced by King Dasaratha in Ramayana? What would have been Lord Rama’s alternative in case he refused to interfere in Bali-Sugreeva dispute to eventually gain the support of Bajrang Sena? Had Karna been inducted by Duryodhana as the first chief commander of Kauravas, what would have been its impact over Mahabharatha war?

These are not questions raised to devotee audience in a Hindu spiritual discourse to ponder over. On the other hand, believe it or not, to Indian Navy personnel’s class room exercise where, ordinarily, topics of military planning, strategies and latest techniques of weaponry are being taught. This assumes significance as it comes close on the heels of official proclamation in Kashmir banning entry of Muslims into Indian Army.

And, this is part of a latest decision to include literary classics in syllabus of officers curriculum aimed at inculcating sense of morality and ethics in them. The experiment, launched recently at Southern Naval Command’s Centre for Leadership and Behavioural Sciences at Kochi, has already produced ‘positive results’ according to officials.

The brain behind this novel project is Rear Admiral Vijay Shankar, India’s first controller of aircraft carrier projects and former chief of staff at Southern Naval Command. The modus operandi is too simple, according to the explanation given by Admiral Vijay Shankar to New Indian Express (13 April) : ‘The new naval cadets are supplied with a new book comprising stories of Ramayana, Bible, etc. for reading during leisure time. Questions given at the end of each chapter, like ‘what Dasaratha would have done had he been in the shoes of Bharata’, would stir the cadets’ thought process. The cadets deliberate on these questions in group discussions which help them understand the need for maintaining morality and ethics even in defence service environment.’

According to him, although this exercise to instill morality and ethics among young cadets was initially viewed with suspicion by many, many cadets now agree that they, indeed, learn something from these lessons ‘which cannot be explained in words’.

The Rear Admiral also recalled that the Navy has given a lot of emphasis on training during the last few years which encompass the economics of training : ‘The classrooms have today become virtual classrooms. We have computer-simulated equipment for target practice. This saves the cost of live ammunition. After the initial practice, the cadets shift to real targets. Another major step has been the recording of strategic books on CD-Rom, which are costly as well as out-of-print. And, by producing CDs we are also able to derive three-dimension figures of engine parts, etc.’

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