New Delhi: The National Cadet Corps (NCC) has created an army of 50,000 volunteers, who are being deployed across the country on the basis of requests from state governments to help in the fight against the coronavirus epidemic.
“The number of NCC corona warriors volunteers has reached 50,000 and more are joining in,” the Director General of the NCC, Lt Gen Rajeev Chopra, told ThePrint.
He said states such as Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Bihar had already deployed the NCC volunteers.
“We have got requests from Kerala and Odisha also now,” he said. “The states are seeing the advantage of employing the NCC cadets as it frees up their own staff for more work and hence the demand is increasing.”
ThePrint had reported on 2 April that the Narendra Modi government has decided to rope in NCC volunteers aged 18 or above, to help the Indian civil infrastructure.
The NCC, which operates under the Ministry of Defence, is the largest uniformed youth organisation in the country with an approximate strength of 14 lakhs.
But only senior division volunteer cadets above 18 years of age — boys and girls — are being used to help the civil administration.
Lt Gen Chopra said that within 15 days, 3,700 cadets have been deployed countrywide in 14 states, with the maximum in Gujarat where over 1,100 cadets are deployed for various duties.
‘Not being deployed for law and order’
The NCC chief said every step has been taken to ensure that the cadets are not exposed to the coronavirus and are not deployed for law and order duties.
“Safety of my cadets is of utmost importance. They are not being employed in areas that have been sealed or earmarked as hotspots by the state governments,” he said. “They are also not being employed for law and order duties.”
The officer added that the cadets are being deployed as a homogeneous group of at least eight and are accompanied by an NCC officer or instructor who can ensure that they are safe and deployed for the right work.
“The cadets have been employed by the administration for a host of duties including help in traffic management, queue management outside ATMs, banks,” he said.
Additionally, they are also being deployed for distribution of ration and cooked food.
“Basically we have identified that the cadets can be used in logistics and supply chain, manning of helplines and as data managers,” Lt Gen Chopra said.
He added the administration has realised that the deployment of NCC cadres helps them free up their own staff for more work in other fields.
‘People react better to NCC cadets’
Lt Gen Chopra said that authorities have discovered that people listen better and obey NCC cadets.
“At the end of the day, people connect with the NCC cadets because they see them as a reflection of their own children. The cadets are well mannered and speak well,” he said. “People realise that the cadets are volunteers and are not doing it because it is part of their job.”
The NCC chief said that more cadets are signing up to be corona warriors.
“Since education institutions have been shut, many students have gone back to their homes and away from the NCC Directorate they come under. And hence we have told them that they can volunteer at places they are in currently,” he said.
The NCC network is spread throughout the country, as its 17 directorates cover all the 28 states and eight union territories. These directorates are further divided into 96 groups and 825 units, thus ensuring availability of cadets to the district administration in all the states.