HomeLatest NewsTime for girls to excel at the NDA

Time for girls to excel at the NDA


While the Supreme Court has lauded the Centre and the three Services Chiefs for their decision to give permanent commission to women and allow their entry into the National Defence Academy (NDA), various discussions regarding the need for long term viability on this is underway.

Current NDA norms

Brigadier Amardeep Singh (Retired), 59
th NDA course and 69
th regular course, IMA, commissioned in December 1981, says, “Currently, NDA is a male bastion. It is also the only one of its kind Academy, where cadets receive training for all three services, including the Army, Navy and Air Force.”

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Within the NDA, cadets are divided into Squadrons or fighting units, which act as the cadets’ family and is their source of pride for the entire duration of their course at the academy, he adds. “The three-year course at NDA is divided into six terms of six months each. Regardless of the service that a cadet opts for at the time of admission the basic syllabus and training for all first-year cadets remain the same. This is aimed to bring them at par,” says the retired Army Officer.

The cadets must pass both physical tests and academics to be commissioned into the Armed Forces, he adds. “Three failed attempts at either of the two components would lead to expulsion from the academy,” says Brigadier Singh.

Female Army Officers

A female Army Officer, commissioned for more than 15 years, on the condition of anonymity, says that the doors of Officers Training Academy (OTA), Chennai were opened to women in 1992. “The initial batches faced various issues, since there were no female Platoon Commanders or Company Commanders to lead the Women Cadets. Gradually, the issues started settling and women became comfortable in being a part of the Armed Forces,” she says.

OTA has a 11-months long training for women, which covers all aspects taught during the 18-months training at Indian Military Academy (IMA). “We were also given physical combat training. While the intensity of our training remained the same as Male Cadets, the time in which we could finish the assigned tasks varied,” she adds.

Once women cadets finish their training, they are commissioned in the Armed Forces. “Today, Girl Cadets are commissioned for a tenure of ten years, which may be further extended to 14 (10+4) if the officer so desires. If a female officer wishes to get a permanent commission, she will be assessed on her duty years and awarded the same,” adds the Officer.

Thus far, women cadets from OTA have been commissioned in all fields except for Infantry, Armoured Corps, Artillery, and Mechanised Infantry, says the female Officer.

Induction of girls in NDA

A major point of discussion is regarding the need to induct girls into NDA. Brigadier Singh says that girls have a naturally different physiology than males. “No one is questioning the capability of girls. A point of concern is that the culture at NDA is wherein all participants, both trainers and trainees, are used to creating ‘men’ out of ‘boys’. Under no circumstances should the level of training imparted at NDA be altered, as that might affect the passing out Cadets,” he says.

Thus, girls who enter into NDA will have a tough road ahead, as they will have to deal and redesign a mindset and attitude towards accepting women as cadets, let alone as a Senior Officer commanding a Platoon, he adds. “This exercise would seem futile unless the thought process is to induct girls into frontline roles in the Army, a point which is still unclear,” he adds.

Possible alternatives

The currently commissioned female officer says that instead of changing the NDA layout, women can be allowed direct admission into IMA. “Entry into IMA is two-pronged. NDA cadets, after completing their three-year training, go to IMA for additional one-year training. Another alternative is for college graduates to directly enroll into IMA for an 18-months long training. Just like with the Air Force Academy and Naval Academy, women can be allowed to take this route to the Armed Forces,” she says.

Brigadier Singh offers another viewpoint. “OTA already has the infrastructure to train female cadets. If the idea is to bring women at par with males in terms of position and ranks, alternatives can be worked out to expand the current infrastructure at the academy instead of pushing females to go through the rigorous training required at NDA,” he says.

Spread awareness

Shishir Dixit, founder and director, Centurion Defence Academy, Lucknow, says, “My academy has already received more than 100 applications from girls who want to appear for the NDA entrance exam. Their enthusiasm towards the prospect of becoming part of the NDA is unbelievable,” he adds.

However, proper awareness needs to be spread to ensure that girls understand their prospects as Army Officers. A retired Army Official, on the condition of anonymity, says, “Inviting girls into Sainik Schools was a great first step. Taking the help of social media to spread the word out to more girls, and more importantly, their parents, is an important next step.”

He adds that locally stationed Army Officials should give live lectures and take one-on-one sessions with aspiring girls to give them the real picture of the Army. “Seeing the currently commissioned women officers in uniform will encourage young girls to become a part of the NDA,” says the Official.





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