The Maharashtra government is considering making training in self-defense a part of the school curriculum in the state.
Maharashtra Education Minister Vinod Tawde gave this assurance in response to an online petition filed by a woman self-defense coach from Pune, Neha Shrimal.
In the petition, Shrimal had demanded to make self-defense training compulsory for all the schools in the state.
Shrimal's petition received over 1.38 lakh signatures in support
The petition, posted on Change.org last September, received over 1.38 lakh signatures in support of the demand.
In the petition, Shrimal, mother of a seven-year-old girl, gave an 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.
"It shows that girls can be empowered to face such situations," she said.
'A girl can also have power to deal with sexual-abuse'
"This brave student shows us that girls can be empowered to face such situations with confidence, rather than feeling scared, victimized and helpless," said Shrimal.
"In India, over 53% children face sexual abuse. Whenever any such incidence happens, we look at police and legal system for help. We never imagine that a girl can also have power to deal with such situations," she said.
Self-defense not martial arts, but psychological preparedness: Shrimal
"I believe that every child should be trained to protect themselves from an early age," said the petitioner.
"I am asking Maharashtra Government to make self-defense training compulsory for all the students from 5th standard," Shrimal added.
According to her, self-defense is not martial arts, but a psychological, mental and physical preparedness to deal with any danger from undesirable elements.
Considering making self-defense part of the curriculum, said Tawde
In his online reply, Tawde said, "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-defense training compulsory for all the schools in Maharashtra."
"Taking due cognizance of the petition, I'm now considering running the program and making it a part of the curriculum," he said.
Education department confirmed state government's plan to introduce self-defense program
The minister further said, "We recently decided to introduce an hour-long sports session for school students. And we are planning to introduce self-defense as a part of these sessions. With this, we have decided to start mandatory self-defense training in schools."
When contacted, a senior official from the School Education Department confirmed the state government's plan in this regard.
We found merit in the petition by Shrimal: Department
"Our department went through the issues raised on the online platform and we found merit in the petition," said the official. He further said, "Therefore, we are seriously considering to introduce the self-defense session in the curriculum of all schools."