National Defence Academy (India)

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 respective service academy for further pre-commission training. The NDA is located in Khadakwasla, Pune, Maharashtra. It is the first tri-service academy in the world.

National Defence Academy
Sudan Building NDA Logo.jpg
NDA logo on the Sudan building of the campus
सेवा परमो धर्मः
(sēvā paramō dharma)
Motto in English
Service Before Self
TypeMilitary Academy
Established7 December 1954
CommandantLt Gen Asit Mistry
Khadakwasla Pune
, ,

18°25′20″N 73°45′55″E / 18.42222°N 73.76528°E / 18.42222; 73.76528Coordinates: 18°25′20″N 73°45′55″E / 18.42222°N 73.76528°E / 18.42222; 73.76528
Campus7,015 acres (28.39 km2)
AffiliationsJawaharlal Nehru University

The alumni of NDA include 3 Param Vir Chakra recipients and 12 Ashoka Chakra recipients. NDA has also produced 27 service Chiefs of Staff till date. The current Chiefs of Staff of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force are all NDA alumni from the same course.[2][3] The 137th course passed out on 30 November 2019, consisting of 188 Army cadets, 38 Naval cadets, 37 Air Force cadets and 20 cadets from friendly foreign countries.[4]


A 1999 stamp dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the National Defence Academy, featuring its Sudan Block

At the end of the World War II, Field Marshal Claude Auchinleck, then Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army, drawing on experiences of the army during the war, led a committee around the world and submitted a report to the Government of India in December 1946. The committee recommended the establishment of a Joint Services Military Academy, with training modelled on the United States Military Academy at West Point.[5]

After the independence of India in August 1947, the Chiefs of Staff Committee immediately implemented the recommendations of the Auchinleck report. The committee initiated an action plan in late 1947 to commission a permanent defence academy and began the search for a suitable site. It also decided to set up an interim training academy, known as the Joint Services Wing (JSW), which was commissioned on 1 January 1949 at the Armed Forces Academy (now known as the Indian Military Academy) in Dehradun.[6][5] Initially, after two years of training at the JSW, Army cadets went on to the Military wing of the Armed Forces Academy for two years of further pre-commission training, while the Navy and Air Force cadets were sent to Britannia Royal Naval College Dartmouth and Royal Air Force College Cranwell in the United Kingdom for further training.[5]

In 1941, Lord Linlithgow, then Viceroy of India received a gift of £100,000 from a grateful Sudanese Government towards building a war memorial in recognition of the sacrifices of Indian troops in the liberation of Sudan in the East African Campaign during World War II. Following partition, India's share amounted to £70,000 (Rs 14 Lakh at the time; the remaining £30,000 went to Pakistan).[7] The Indian Army decided to use these funds to partly cover the cost of construction of the NDA.[7] The foundation stone for the academy was laid by then Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru on 6 October 1949.[7] Construction started in October 1949. The revised estimated cost for the whole project was Rs 6.45 crores respectively.[8][9] The National Defence Academy was formally commissioned on 7 December 1954, with an inauguration ceremony held on 16 January 1955.[10][11] The 10th JSW program was transferred from Clement Town, Dehradun to NDA Khadakwasla.


Aerial view of the Sudan Block of the Academy

The NDA campus is located about 17 km south-west of Pune city, north-west of Khadakwasla Lake. It spans 7,015 acres (28.39 km2) of the 8,022 acres (32.46 km2)[12] donated by the Government of the former Bombay State. While many states had offered land for a permanent place for the Academy, Bombay got the honour, donating the most land including a lake and neighbouring hilly terrain.[13] The site was also chosen for its proximity to the Arabian Sea and other military establishments, an operational air base nearby at Lohegaon as well as the salubrious climate. The existence of an old combined-forces training centre and a disused mock landing ship, HMS Angostura, on the north bank of the Khadakwasla lake which had been used to train troops for amphibious landings, lent additional leverage for the selection of the site.[5] Aptly, NDA is also located in the hunting grounds of the legendary Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, with the Sinhagad Fort as a panoramic backdrop.[5]

View from Sinhagad Fort, a backdrop for NDA
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj memorial at the National Defence Academy[14] The 17th century Maratha warrior king is considered as the Father of Indian Navy.[15][16]

The administrative headquarters of the NDA was named the Sudan Block, in honour of the sacrifices of Indian soldiers in the Sudan theatre during the East African Campaign. It was inaugurated by then Ambassador of Sudan to India, Rahmatullah Abdulla, on 30 May 1959.[7] The building is a 3-storey basalt and granite structure constructed with Jodhpur red sandstone. Its architecture features an exterior design comprising a blend of arches, pillars and verandahs, topped by a dome. The foyer has white Italian marble flooring and panelling on the interior walls.[7] The Habibullah Museum is also present on the campus.[17]

NDA has an excellent infrastructure for 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.[17] 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.[18] Major General Thakur Mahadeo Singh, DSO was the first commandant of JSW at IMA. Major General E Habibullah was the last head of the JSW and the First Commandant of NDA at Pune. Lieutenant General Asit Mistry, is the present commandant. Lt Gen Jatinder Singh, the twenty eighth commandant, was accused in a recruitment scandal and removed from his post for corruption.[19][18]

Admission ProcessEdit

Applicants to the NDA are selected via a written exam conducted by the UPSC in 1995, followed by extensive interviews by the Services Selection Board 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. About 4,50,000 applicants sit for each written exam every year. Typically, about 6,300 of these are invited to interview. The minimum age should be 16 and half years and maximum age should be 19 and half years.[20] The number of students who were admitted to the Joint Services Wing of the National Defense Academy during 1953-54 is 572. Total application received in UPSC 6,061.[21]

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 370 cadets are accepted to the academy each semester. About 120 cadets are accepted for the Air Force, 42 for the Navy ,208 for the Army and 48 for Indian Naval Academy.[22]

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.[23]

Squadrons and BattalionsEdit

A cadet is allotted to one of the 18 Squadrons.[17]

  • No. 1 Battalion: Alpha Squadron, Bravo Squadron, Charlie Squadron and Delta Squadron.
  • No. 2 Battalion: Echo Squadron, Foxtrot Squadron, Golf Squadron and Hunter Squadron.
  • No. 3 Battalion: India Squadron, Juliet Squadron, Kilo Squadron and Lima Squadron.
  • No. 4 Battalion: Mike Squadron, November Squadron, Oscar Squadron and Panther Squadron.
  • No. 5 Battalion: Quebec Squadron and Romeo Squadron.

Each squadron has approximately 100 to 120 cadets drawn from senior as well as junior courses under training in the Academy.

As the number of cadets joining the NDA increased annually, the Defence Ministry of India sanctioned the raising of 16th, 17th and 18th squadrons in 2012, with the initial letter of their names being "P", "Q" and "R" respectively. The newly raised "Panthers" squadron won the Academy cross-country run championship in its first participation in Spring 2012.[24][25]

The prestigious Inter Squadron Championship Trophy is awarded to the best Squadron. The champion squadron has the proud tradition of possession of the Champion banner for one term, which is carried during the parade and other sports meets. 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 Baccalaureate degree (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 studies in Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Computer Science. The Humanities (Liberal Arts) stream offers studies in History, Economics, Political Science, Geography and Languages.

In both streams, academic studies are split into three categories.

Cadets spend the first four semesters on the Compulsory Course and the Foundation Course. They take the Optional Course during the fifth and sixth semesters. They may transfer to other Service academies for the optional courses.[26]


All the cadets joining the NDA after their 10+2 Examination are trained in the Academy for three years culminating in graduation with BA(or)BSc or BCs (Computer Science) degree of Jawaharlal Nehru University; the first course to be awarded degrees was the 46th course in 1974.[10][27] Apart from academic training they are also trained in outdoor skills, like Drill, PT and games; apart from one of the foreign languages up to the lower B1 level (according to the international standards). The emphasis in NDA is on character building, esprit-de-corps, mental and physical robustness, leadership and a sense of keen observation. Life in NDA is all about learning discipline and adhering self improvement.

Joint service trainingEdit

Air ForceEdit

The Air Force Training Team (AFTT)[10] aims at training Air Force cadets in the basics of military aviation through ground training and flying training. Ground training is conducted with the help of modern training aids, aircraft models, and cross-sectional models of aero-engines and ng consists of a minimum of eight sorties on the Super Dimona aircraft. Cadets also get an exposure to deflection firing through Skeet shooting. Visits to key Air Force training establishments, Air Force Stations and civil aviation centers are also undertaken to give cadets first - hand experience of aviation activities. Visits to Air Force Academy, Air Wing at Indian Armament Technology, Air Base at Pune and College of Military Engineering are organised to enable the Air Force cadets to appreciate the Air Force aspects. Flying training at the AFTT is fully backed by an Automatic Weather Station, Air Traffic Control Station, a paved runway and a dispersal for six aircraft.

The AFTT was formed towards the end of 1956. The aim of the AFTT is to introduce the VI Term cadets to gliding and allied professional subjects, which in turn prepares them for their professional training in the Air Force flying establishments. Over the last 60 years, the gliding training has evolved into flying training. Five different classes of gliders were acquired by the Academy since 1957. They are Sedberg T-21B, Baby Eon, Eon Olympica, Rohini and Ardhra gliders. All these gliders with the exception of the Baby Eon and Eon Olympics were utilised in the flying training of the cadets.

The Sedberg T-21B was the mainstay of the AFTT in glider flying with each cadet being permitted a total of 60 training launches, after which 2-3 mandatory Solo Check launches were flown with the Chief Flying Instructor (CFI). Cadets cleared for solo flying flew one solo trip on the glider and were then formally awarded their 'Wings', exactly half the size of the official Indian Air Force wings, which were worn above the left shirt pocket of their formal uniforms. Sandbags were used as ballast in place of the absent instructor.

The cadet who went solo with the lowest number of launches was usually awarded the Best In Gliding Trophy on the Guest Dining-in Night, one night prior to the Passing Out Parade. The Air Force cadet who stood first in Ground Subjects was awarded the Sqn Ldr Vasudev Memorial Book Prize that same night.

The induction of Super Dimona in 2001 is a watershed moment in the history of AFTT introducing a huge jump in the quality of training. A gliderdrome having a 950 m (3,120 ft) long runway is maintained within the premises of the NDA by the AFTT. The Air Force cadets of the academy learn the basics of gliding and powered flight at this facility on the Diamond HK36 Super Dimona gliders.[28]


Cadet are imparted a blend of outdoor and indoor training. Outdoor training is carried out in the hilly and wooded terrain in and around the NDA campus. Indoor training includes theoretical and practical simulated training. Cadets are taught subjects such as tactical training, weapon training, map reading, military writing, field engineering, organisation and administration and radio telephony. Training visits to operational military establishments and bases are also incorporated to enhance the practical content of the training.

During his stay at the NDA, an Army cadet is taught judging distances, terrain study, indication and recognition of targets, camouflage and concealment, trench digging, observation by day and night, stalking, organisation of an Infantry section, section formations, field signals and fire control orders. They are also taught handling of firearms, marksmanship and night firing. In addition, aspects of NBC Warfare and CI ops are also taught to the cadets.

An Inter Squadron Bayonet fighting competition is held to inculcate a spirit of aggression and martial hue as also to teach the nuances of hand-to-hand combat. An Inter Squadron Firing Competition is also conducted to enhance levels of marksmanship and night firing skills.

Camp Green Horn[12] is conducted to introduce a second term cadet to the basic battle subjects such as map reading, tent pitching, fitting of web equipment, navigation, endurance training, compass reading and development of leadership qualities. Camp Rover[29][12] is conducted to introduce a fourth term cadet to the basic battle subjects.

In the sixth term Camp Torna,[10][12] "recalling the first victory of Shivaji, a teenager"[30] is conducted, where practical aspects are reinforced in simulated field conditions. The cadets are provided with opportunities to demonstrate leadership qualities in various tactical situations. Other aspects covered during the camp include navigation by day and night, quick attack at section level, patrolling, ambush, endurance training, and occupation of a Section Defended Post and conduct of a defensive battle at section level by night.


The Naval Training Team (NTT)[10] is the oldest of the Training Teams at the NDA. The main task of the Naval Training Team is to train V and VI term naval cadets on Specialist Service Subjects both theoretical and practical.[31] Naval cadets on completion of their 3 years of training go to Indian Naval Academy (INA) as their finishing academy for 1 year, where they commence their M.Sc degree along with cadets of INA who will be doing B.Tech. From 2015 army and air force cadets get naval training as well.[31]

The major emphasis is laid on Navigation, Seamanship and Communication. A total of 328 theoretical classes are conducted for VI term naval cadets. Theoretical instructions are imparted in the class room at NTT and Peacock Bay by using modern teaching methodology where-in 3D models, Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI) and Computer Based Training (CBT) packages, scaled down models are used. Practical instructions are imparted in the Watermanship Training Centre at Peacock bay during regular periods and during club days. TS Ronnie Pereira, the in-house scale model of a warship helps in imparting training.[32]

In order to orient the cadets to the navy, an orientation visit to Mumbai is conducted prior to the commencement of service training; during which the cadets visit various class of ships, submarines, shop floors, repair facilities etc. As part of the visit the naval cadets are sent to NBCD School to acquaint with fire fighting, damage control aspects. Further, to inculcate competitive spirit and adventurism amongst the cadets, VI term naval cadets are sent to Naval Academy, Ezhimala to take part in Open Sea Whaler Sailing Expedition and interact with their counterparts at the INA.

Camp Varuna during the middle of the term to get a first hand experience onboard during sailing and Camp Varuna II at the end of the term to put the theoretical knowledge acquired at NTT into practical use during the three days sailing. Watermanship Training Centre includes Yachting, Kayaking, Windsurfing, Rowing, Water-skiing, Ship Modeling.[31]

Passing outEdit

Passing Out Parade at the National Defence Academy on 30 November 2019.

On 30 November 2019, the passing-out parade of the 137th course of the Academy was held with 284 cadets[a] graduating.[4] Defence Minister Rajnath Singh was the chief guest for the occasion.[4]


Alumni of the academy have led and fought in every major conflict in which India has participated since the academy was established. They have an illustrious record of numerous gallantry awards and achieving 3 Param Vir Chakras, 31 Maha Vir Chakras, 160 Vir Chakra, 11 Ashok Chakras, 40 Kirti Chakras and 135 Shaurya Chakras.[33] 11 Chiefs of Army Staff, 10 Chiefs of Naval Staff and 4 Chiefs of Air Staff of the Indian Armed Forces have been NDA alumni.[34]

On 31 December, for second time in history, all three Chiefs will be from same NDA course.[2]

In the mediaEdit

The Standard Bearers, a documentary directed and written by Dipti Bhalla and Kunal Verma provides an inside look into the history and operations of the NDA. Another documentary film, My Flag, My Life, written by Ambarnath Sinha and directed by Nandan Khuhyadi and Sanjay Dabke, provides details about the life of NDA cadets, and is intended to create awareness about a career in the armed forces among the young generation.[35][36] Books depicting NDA include the fictional "Boots Belts Berets" by Tanushree Podder, which is also being adapted into a web series.[37] Outlook reported that over 1200 cadets quit NDA in ten years between January 2008 and November 2017.[38]

See alsoEdit

Notes and ReferencesEdit


  1. ^ 188 Army cadets, 38 Naval cadets, 37 Air Force cadets and 20 cadets from friendly foreign countries.[4]


  1. ^ "Sacred Symbols". National Defence Academy. Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 1 May 2011.
  2. ^ a b Mohan, Vijay (17 December 2019). "For second time in history, all three Chiefs to be from same NDA course". Tribune India. Retrieved 18 December 2019.
  3. ^ ":: Welcome to National Defence Academy ::". Retrieved 10 December 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d "284 Cadets Pass Out From National Defence Academy". NDTV. PTI. 30 November 2019. Retrieved 13 December 2019.CS1 maint: others (link)
  5. ^ a b c d e "History Of NDA". National Defence Academy. Archived from the original on 19 April 2012. Retrieved 13 August 2012.
  6. ^ Ramunny 1997, p. 88.
  7. ^ a b c d e "Sudan ambassador visits historic block at NDA". The Times of India. 4 March 2017. Retrieved 15 December 2019.
  8. ^ PARLIAMENT SECRETARIAT (2 March 1954) PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES, HOUSE OF THE PEOPLE, OFFICIAL REPORT (Part Il—Proceedings other than Questions and Answers) VOLUME 1-1954. page 14. New Delhi
  9. ^ page 15
  10. ^ a b c d e Chandawarkar, Rahul (15 August 2011). "National Defence Academy: A shining jewel among military training institutions". DNA India. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  11. ^ "National Defence Academy Khadakwasla, Pune, India". Retrieved 13 August 2012.
  12. ^ a b c d Kumar, Navin (21 April 2008). "Careers in the Army: How you can sign up". Rediff. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  13. ^ Ramunny 1997, p. 94.
  14. ^ [1]
  15. ^ Setumadhavarao S. Pagadi., Setumadhavarao S (1993). SHIVAJI. National Book Trust. p. 21. ISBN 8123706472.
  16. ^ Shivaji, R.; Sharma, S.L. (1974). 300th Anniversary of Coronation of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj: Souvenir. Foreign Window Pub. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  17. ^ a b c Mehta, Ashok K (23 October 2019). "A ride into military school". The Pioneer. Retrieved 2 January 2020.
  18. ^ a b Panag, Lt Gen H. S. (18 July 2019). "Outdated courses to rampant ragging: Why India's National Defence Academy needs urgent help". ThePrint. Retrieved 13 December 2019. ...Lieutenant General or equivalent is appointed as the Commandant.
  19. ^ Kulkarni, Sushan (12 January 2016). "NDA recruitment scam: Black Label bottles, cash as bribe, favourable officers posted on recruitment panel". The Indian Express. Retrieved 13 December 2019.
  20. ^ "NDA Application Form Process".
  21. ^ Page 24
  22. ^ "NDA Selection Process".
  23. ^ "MISSION OF NATIONAL DEFENCE ACADEMY" (PDF). 4 May 2009. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  24. ^ "With Quebec & Romeo, NDA squadron strength up to 18". Indian Express. 4 March 2012. Retrieved 13 August 2012.
  25. ^ "New squadron wins honours in NDA cross country race". Indian Express. 20 February 2012. Retrieved 13 August 2012.
  26. ^ Academics. National Defence Academy
  27. ^ PTI (30 November 2018). "NDA cadets conferred with JNU degrees". The Indian Express. Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  28. ^ "Air Force Training Team". Retrieved 2 July 2016.
  29. ^ Mande, Abhishek (22 September 2011). "PICS: Inside the world's toughest military camp". Rediff. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  30. ^ Sawant, Brig Chitranjan. Living Life Loving Life. Prabhat Prakashan. p. 30. ISBN 978-81-8430-399-5.
  31. ^ a b c Dighe, Sandip (31 December 2014). "Army, air force cadets to get naval training as well". Pune Mirror. Retrieved 2 January 2020.
  32. ^ Dighe, Sandip (8 May 2017). "Budding naval officers get hands-on experience at National Defence Academy". The Times of India. Retrieved 2 January 2020.
  33. ^ "National Defence Academy, NDA Pune Alumni".
  34. ^ "National Defence Academy, NDA Pune | Arjuna Award Winners from NDA". Archived from the original on 23 October 2007. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  35. ^ "'My Flag My Life', a Film insipers Youth to Join the Forces". Retrieved 13 August 2012.
  36. ^ "Now, a film to inspire youth to join the forces". The Times of India. 28 July 2009. Retrieved 13 August 2012.
  37. ^ IANS (12 June 2019). "'Boots Belts Berets' to be turned into web series". Business Standard India. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  38. ^ "More Than 1,200 Cadets Quit NDA In Last 10 Years Due To Ragging, Torture, Excessive Punishment: Report". Outlook India. 5 January 2018. Retrieved 2 January 2020.


Further readingEdit

External linksEdit