The Maharashtra government has announced that it is considering making self-defence a part of school curriculums. The announcement came as a response by Maharashtra Education Minister Vinod Tawde, to a petition filed by Neha Shrimal, a self-defence coach from Pune.
Shrimal, mother to a seven year-old girl, posted the petition on change.org in September last year in which she demanded that self-defence training be made compulsory for all schools in the state. The petition received 1.38 lakh signatures. The petition also detailed example of how an 18-year-old girl fought off three men harassing her and handed them over to police in Birbhum in West Bengal.
“In India, over 53% children face sexual abuse. Whenever any such incidence happens, we just look at police and legal system for help. We never imagine that a girl can also have power to deal with such situations,” Shrimal said in the petition. “I believe that every child should be trained to protect themselves from an early age. I am asking Maharashtra Government to make self defence training compulsory for all the students from 5th standard onwards,” she added.
She also believes that self defence was not martial arts, but a psychological, mental and physical preparedness to deal with any danger from undesirable elements. In his response, Tawde said that he is considering running the programme, and making it a part of the curriculum. He also added that They are planning to introduce self-defence as part of a recently introduced hour-long sports session for school students.
“The first petition that I have received is from a Pune citizen and a mother, Neha Shrimal. Neha and 1.37 lakh citizens have asked me to Make self-defence training compulsory for all the schools in Maharashtra. I have heard you and 1.37 lakh citizens,” Tawde said in his reply.
Speaking to NDTV, an official from the school education department confirmed that the plan is in the works. “Our department went through the issues raised on the online platform and we found merit in the petition. Therefore, we are seriously considering to introduce the self-defence session in the curriculum,” the official said.