If you’re a daredevil and wish to live a life less ordinary then NDA has a lot to offer than you can imagine. The National Defence Academy (NDA) is the joint services academy of the Indian Armed Forces, where cadets of the three services, the Army, the Navy and the Air Force train together before they go on to their respective service academies for further pre-commissioning training.
The NDA is located in Khadakwasla, Pune, Maharashtra. It is the first tri-service academy in the world. Although there are several ways to get into the service yet, the NDA examination remains the most popular choice among the aspirants. One can start the cadet journey right after the possing 12th examination.
UPSC conducted an NDA examination twice a year, applicants to the NDA are selected via a written exam conducted by the UPSC, followed by extensive interviews by the SSB covering general aptitude, psychological testing, team skills as well as physical and social skills, along with medical tests. Incoming classes are accepted twice a year for semesters starting in July and January.
Applicants who join the Air Force through the flying branch also go through a test called Computerized Pilot Selection System or CPSS for short. About 340 cadets are accepted to the academy each semester. About 90 cadets are accepted for the Air Force, 42 for the Navy and 208 for the Army.
Cadets who are accepted and successfully complete the program are sent to their respective training academies for one year of training before granting of commission: army cadets go to Indian Military Academy (IMA) at Dehradun, air force cadets to Air Force Academy (AFA) at Dundigal, Hyderabad, and naval cadets to Indian Naval Academy (INA) at Ezhimala, Kerala.
Now, let’s talk about life at NDA, NDA has an excellent infrastructure for the all-round training of cadets and a vast array of facilities like spacious and well-maintained classrooms, well-equipped labs, two Olympic size swimming pools, a gymnasium, 32 football fields, 2 polo grounds, a cricket stadium and a number of squash and tennis courts. The academic year is divided into two terms, viz. Spring (Jan. to May) and Autumn (July to Dec.).
A cadet must undergo training for a total of six terms before graduating from the NDA. The Commandant of the National Defence Academy is the head and overall in charge of the academy. The Commandant is a Three-star rank officer from the three Services in rotation.
The successful candidates after getting recommended are allotted to one of the 18 Squadrons. The Squadrons are named as Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, Golf, Hunter, India, Juliet, Kilo, Lima, Mike, November, Oscar, Panther, Quebec and Romeo. Each squadron has approximately 100 to 120 cadets drawn from senior as well as junior courses under training in the Academy.
Each Squadron has its own nickname, an individual identity with a richly textured history and mascot. The rudimentary import of the NDA’s motto “Service before Self” is first taught in the environs of the Squadron, where a cadet learns the importance of putting the Squadron’s requirements well above his own.
The NDA offers only a full-time, residential undergraduate programme. Cadets are awarded a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science after 3 years of study. Cadets have a choice of two streams of study. The Science stream offers physics, chemistry, mathematics and computer science studies.
The Humanities (Liberal Arts) stream offers studies in History, Economics, Political Science, Geography and Languages. Both streams are divided into three courses mainly, the foundation course is mandatory and comprises Military Studies and General Studies, a compulsory course and an optional course.
The training at the academy is considered tedious and prepare cadet for worst-case scenarios in future. All cadets are trained in drills, PT, outdoor skills, map reading, tactical weapon training, scenario-based games and endurance. The emphasis at the academy is on character building, esprit-de-corps, mental and physical robustness, leadership and a sense of keen observation.
Life at NDA is all about learning discipline and adhering to self-improvement. Finally, after enduring all pain, a cadet moves on to their specialization course following the passing out parade. As called by many, the three years at the academy is yet the most memorable period in officers’ life.
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