By Dr Bharat Kalita
After the experience of the World War-I and the deteriorating political scenerio of the world with the emergence of Mussolini in Italy and Hitler in Germany, the shrewd Englishmen took a decision in 1932 to start the Military Academy in Dehradun, India, to train military officers in India out of the Indian young, energetic and intelligent boys to meet the eventualities in India and in the British Empire. Later on, after World War-II experiences, the British Indian government set up a committee in May 1945 with Field Marshal Sir Claude Auchinlek, Commander-in Chief of British Indian Army, as chairman to set up another academy to train jointly the officers of the three services, i.e. Army, Navy and Air Force, the only academy of its kind in the world. But this academy could be started only after Independence as the National Defence Academy (NDA) in 1949.
The NDA is situated at Kharakwasla, 20 km. from Pune, Maharashtra, in a plot spread over an area of 8,300 acres. The facilities of a good airfield in Pune with a Gliderdome at Kharakwasla, nearness to sea, temperate climate throughout the year, attached to the Kharakwasla Lake and plenty of hills and dales for various field training close to the NDA in the Western ghat and of course the historical importance of great Shivaji Maharaja'sworking field met the requirement to select this site after several years of hard work by the implementation committee.
The Academy awards B.A. and B.Sc. degrees after the completion of three years intensive academic, service and extra curricullar training. The syllabus is divided into six semesters, each semester having a promotional examination. It is affiliated to the Jawaharlal Nehru University of Delhi. Minimum requirement of the intakes are 12th class passed. After an open written test in general knowledge, general English, math, physics, and chemistry candidates are selected extremely carefully by UPSC and Services Selection Board. There is no reservation on the basis of caste, or religion. Merit, physical fitness, ability in spoken English are some of the additional criterion to be considered for selection. Selection tests for admission to this Academy take place twice a year?in January and in July?and the boys are to be between the age groups 16 and 18? years. All cadets are trained at government cost in class. Excellent food, accommodation, entertainment, uniform, books and other training material and also hospital care are provided. Training at the NDA aims at the all-round development of a cadet'spersonality. Every opportunity is offered to a cadet to pursue hobbies of his choice in 20 all-equipped hobby clubs. The facilities provided for the recreational activities would be the envy of any institution in the country. All cadets have to opt for membership of two clubs?one indoor, another outdoor. Provision for light entertainment is of very high standard. Good movies are exhibited twice a week besides other cultural programmes by eminent artistes.
After an open written test in general knowledge, general English, maths, physics, and chemistry candidates are selected by UPSC and Services Selection Board. There is no reservation on the basis of caste, or religion. Merit, physical fitness, ability in spoken English are some of the additional criterion to be considered for selection.
The command of the Academy is vested with a Lt. General or his equivalent in other two services by rotation. There are about 150 civilian instructors. Even the families of the officers play an important role in training the cadets in different ways by offering them parental love and affection calling and meeting them at home or parties. Each officer besides an instructor is a friend of the cadets helping them, guiding them, advising them and also punishing them whenever it is unavoidable. The service training team consists of about 700 other ranks besides the officers. Training in NDA both in class room and outside has fostered the spirit of tolerance, and a sense of respect for other faiths and belief. Each cadet according to his own faith can go to the temple, gurudwara, church or mosque on specified religious days and Sundays and holidays. In NDA girl cadets are not admitted but lady instructors are there. In reality it is not admission, it is appointment as 99 per cent cadets successfully complete the training and education.
(The writer is the former Reader of NDA.)