Rashtriya Indian Military College

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The Rashtriya Indian Military College (RIMC) was founded on March 13, 1922, with the objective of providing the necessary preliminary training for boys of Indian birth or domicile, wishing to become officers in the Armed Forces of India. The institution now serves as a feeder institute to the National Defence Academy. Selection for RIMC is through a written examination cum viva voce conducted through the State Governments. Seats for respective States are reserved based on population.



Arjun Subramaniam, March 25, 2022: The Times of India

‘Seconds out of the ring please – boxers box. ’ The wild cheering from the stands dies down and the two young pugilists stalk each other in the ring. One of the boxers is a southpaw who dances around the ring while the other has a traditional right-handed stance as he tries to land a series of punches on the southpaw who weaves and bobs around staying clear of danger. Clearly, the southpaw is a better boxer and gradually wears down his opponent over three rounds with a series of combination punches. As the bell sounds the end of the bout and the judge announces the verdict of ‘well fought blue, red is the winner,’ the amphitheatre erupts in a staccato of cheering from several corners.

This is not the World Boxing Championship or the Olympics but the boxing finals at the centenary celebrations of the Rashtriya Indian Military College or RIMC as it is known.

Transcending the colonial legacy

While enough has been written about the history of RIMC and its illustrious alumni that include a Victoria Cross, independent India’s first Param Vir Chakra, six Indian service chiefs, accomplished generals, admirals, air marshals, bureaucrats and corporate leaders who have done their alma mater proud, the one standout feature of the school has been its truly pan-Indian representative flavour through the years.

When this is combined with a multi-cultural, multireligious and meritocracy-based initial selection process, the seeds are well sown to turn bright and starry-eyed boys into men of integrity and soldiers of steel who have embedded in them the values of ‘discipline, resilience and integrity’. These traits echo the words of General VN Sharma, a former army chief and at 90, among the oldest surviving Rimcollians, when he said at the prize distribution ceremony, “It does not matter whether you win or lose as long as you fight fairly and with guts. ”

Without taking anything away from colonial legacy of RIMC, the defining moment in RIMC’s history must be the initiative of General Thimayya and a few other nationalist alumni soon after Independence who insisted that measures be taken to ensure that RIMC does not remain an elitist school as it largely was in British times.

Converging onto Dehradun from every state

Consequently, a masterstroke by the government was to assign at least one seat to every state in the admission process with some of the larger states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Maharashtra sending two cadets to the school should they meet the admission criteria.

It was not strange in the 1960s and 1970s to see parents converging onto Dehradun and RIMC with their 11-year old wards in all kinds of regional attires – from suits and military uniforms to dhotis, lungis, kurta-pyjamas and traditional attire from the southern and northeastern states. They would then be courteously received by the school staff led by the administrative officer who would declare, ‘Your children are now in safe hands – please do not leave any expensive items with them or excessive amounts of money as they would receive their weekly pocket money that is enough for their needs. ’

It was truly a spectacular manifestation of the diversity of India and contributed much to the evolving post-Independence structure of the Indian armed forces unlike the situation that panned out in Pakistan where the Punjabi-domination of the Pakistan army steered the destiny of India’s principal adversary.

Evolving: Opening the gates to girl cadets ‘Ich Dien’ or ‘I Serve’, the motto of the school remains the guiding beacon and if one were to identify four signature traits of Rimcollians that transcend professions: resilience and guts, risk-taking propensity, navigating past complex problems, and standing by comrades. Even as contemporary Indian society experiences churn and change, RIMC must remain a symbol of India’s inclusive, federal and nationalistic ethos.

Momentous days are ahead for RIMC as it will open its gates to girls in a phased manner with an initial intake of five girls in the autumn term of 2022 for which approximately 1,500 applications have been received.

Like every institution, RIMC must also reinvent itself in several areas to keep pace with the demands of the changing character of conflict and develop multidisciplinary expertise that can create future hybrid warriors who combine the traditional ‘guts and glory’ paradigm with intellectual prowess and a technological orientation. RIMC is a special institution and must be nurtured, not because of its ethos or traditions, but because it represents an aspirational idea of India as articulated in the Constitution. The writer is a retired Air Vice Marshal and an alumnus of RIMC

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