The make-up of the officer cadre of the Indian armed forces a decade after Independence was disquieting for a Republic still writhing from the throes of its birth. It was a monopoly of the patrician, blue-blooded alumni of public schools and the so-called martial races -- the 'more-than-equal' gentry who had little in common with the men they led.
The officer cadre patently lacked the grassroots character and ethos of the newborn nation and needed to be 'Indianised'. The infrastructure to nurture the essential levels of physical, mental and intellectual calibre for induction into the officer cadre was found wanting in common schools. Since public schools were beyond all but the affluent, in 1960, then defence minister V K Krishna Menon envisioned Sainik schools -- at least one in each state -- to select boys from across the spectrum through an open entrance examination and to rear them for leadership in the armed forces.