Around 300 youngsters from 25 foreign nations will participate in next year's Republic Day camp of the National Cadet Corps (NCC) as a part of celebrations leading to 75th Independence Day, said Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar on Friday. The foreign cadets — who used to get nominated for the annual camp by their respective countries till date — will now be selected by India through a competition wherein their knowledge of India's history, economy, culture and growth will be tested, he said.
"With this competition, the participation of these cadets will become aspirational," Kumar said during a press conference. In 2020, around 160 youngsters from 10 countries had participated in the NCC's Republic Day Camp. No foreign cadet participated in this year's Republic Day Camp due to COVID-19. In the 2022 camp, youth delegations would be invited for the first time from 15 countries — the USA, Canada, the UK, France, Japan, Oman, the UAE, Brazil, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria and Seychelles.
These 15 countries will be in addition to the existing 10 foreign countries - Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Singapore, Kyrgyz Republic, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Vietnam — with whom NCC already has an ongoing Youth Exchange Programme. Kumar said these 25 countries would be informed in July of the entire selection process. In September, the selection process will be conducted and the results will be announced in October, he added. He said that just like this year, the NCC's camp in 2022 would be conducted adhering to all COVID-19 protocols.
Kumar said the Ministry of External Affairs and the Indian embassies in the 25 countries will assist in the selection process. The foreign cadets who will come to the next year's camp will get to meet President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and various other top dignitaries. These youngsters will get to visit tourist places in cities such as Vadodara, Agra and Jaipur. All expenses of their stay and travel would be borne by the Indian government.
The camp will be held in India from January 15-29, 2022, as part of 'Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav', commemorating 75 years of India's Independence.