The last two months have been rather hard on Ishika Sharma (8).
She got up before six everyday and rushed to Rajpath to be part of a lively contingent marching through the morning chill and dense fog.
Despite following a regular Indian Army Cadet’s morning schedule for the last 60 days, she isn’t complaining.
“I like being part of the contingent because my parents say they are proud of me,” said the class three student from Uttam Nagar’s Kamal Model School, unsure whether she has used the right English word to describe how her parents feel.
She is one of the youngest from a group of 600 students who will be part of this year’s Republic Day parade.
“I got up at 5 am to practice my gymnastics routine,” said Vikas Singh (11), a class six student. “Then I’m warmed up for the real routine at Rajpath.”
A sense of accomplishment at being chosen and being representatives of their respective schools unites these 185 children from classes III to XI.
“It’s a great feeling. I thank my school for giving me the honour to represent it on such a huge platform,” said Neeraj Masson (17), a class XI commerce student from Vandana International School.
Through gymnastics and yoga, these students from Kamal Model School, Mohan Garden, and Vandana International School, Dwarka, will articulate their pride at India’s progress, pay tribute to martyrs and welcome the world to the Commonwealth Games. The exercise has been dubbed ‘Viramhin Prawah’.
“It is important for students to participate in this kind of an event. It helps instill a sense of nationalism and patriotism in them,” said Vandana Tandon, Principal, Kamal Model School, Dwarka.
Dibyendu Mandal (17), a class XII student from Modern School, Barakhamba Road, agreed. “It would be a pleasure to represent my school in front of the dignitaries,” he said.
But there are very few public schools that participate in the exercise.
“We don’t send our students for this kind of an event because we don’t see any objective behind it. It requires regular practice for three months, which upsets their study schedule,” said Annie Koshy, Principal, St Mary’s School, Safdarjung Enclave. “Also, its too cold in the morning.”
“I would have no problem with participating, but I don’t think many of my friends would join me,” said Pulkit Goel (17), a class XI student of Air Force Bal Bharti School.
“It’s true we don’t see too much participation from the public schools,” said Mahabali Satpal, Additional Director of Education, Sports Branch.
“We are open to both public and government schools. It is up to the schools to apply,” said Satpal.