Indian Military Academy

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Indian Military Academy
Indian Military Academy, Dehradun, Uttrakhand, India.jpg
The main ground of IMA with Chetwode Hall and Chetwode Drill Square visible
Former name
Armed Forces Academy, National Defence Academy
वीरता और विवेक
Motto in English
Valour and Wisdom
TypeMilitary Academy
EstablishedOctober 1, 1932; 87 years ago (1932-10-01)
CommandantLt. Gen Sanjay Kumar Jha
Location, ,

30°19′55″N 77°58′51″E / 30.332041°N 77.980933°E / 30.332041; 77.980933
Campus1,400 acres (5.7 km²)
ColorsBlood red and steel grey
Creed: Your country first, the men you command next, and yourself last.

The Indian Military Academy (also known as IMA) is an officer training Academy of the Indian Army located in Dehradun. It was established in 1932 following a recommendation by the Indian Military College Committee which was set up under the chairmanship of Field Marshal Philip Chetwode in 1931. From a class of 40 gentleman cadets in 1932, IMA now trains over approximately 400 gentleman cadets in a batch, with the total strength of the institution being 1,650. Cadets undergo training for one year. On completion of the course at IMA, gentleman cadets are permanently commissioned into the army as a Lieutenant. During the duration of the course, cadets are given a monthly stipend of Rs. 56,100/- (as per 7th pay commission).

The academy has produced many notable alumni, including recipients of India's highest military decoration, the Param Vir Chakra and India's first Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw. Recipients of the Param Vir Chakra include Major Somnath Sharma, Captain Vikram Batra, Lieutenant Colonel Hoshiar Singh and Captain Gurbachan Singh Salaria to name a few. Alumni are also recipients of 17 Ashoka Chakra, 84 Maha Vir Chakras and 41 Kirti Chakra among other honours. Until October 2019, the 87th Raising Day, over 61,000 gentleman cadets have graduated and over 3,000 foreign gentleman cadets from over 30 friendly countries like Afghanistan, Singapore, Zambia and Malaysia have also come for training to IMA.


Demands for an Indian Military training academy[edit]

During the Indian Independence Struggle, Indian leaders recognized the need for a local military institution to meet the needs of an armed force loyal to sovereign India.[1][2] The British Raj was reluctant to commission Indian officers or to permit local officer training.[3] Until World War I, Indians were not eligible for commission as officers in the Indian Army.[4]

Following the experiences in World War I, where Indian soldiers proved their mettle, Montague-Chelmsford Reforms facilitated ten Indians per year to undergo officer training at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst.[5] In 1922 the Prince of Wales Royal Indian Military College (now known as the Rashtriya Indian Military College or just RIMC) was set up in Dehradun to prepare young Indians for admission to Sandhurst.[6][7] The Indianisation of the Army started with the commissioning of 31 Indian officers. Among this first batch of officers to be commissioned was Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw, who became the Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army in 1969 and later the first Indian Field Marshal.[8]

General Sir Philip Chetwode

Despite demands, the British resisted expansion of the Indian officer cadre. Indian leaders then pressed for the issue at the first Round Table Conference in 1930. Eventually, the establishment of an Indian officer training college was one of the few concessions made at the conference. The Indian Military College Committee, set up under the chairmanship of Field Marshal Sir Philip Chetwode, recommended in 1931 the establishment of an Indian Military Academy in Dehradun to produce forty commissioned officers twice a year following two and a half years of training.[9][10]

Inauguration to Independence[edit]

The Government of India transferred the former property in Dehradun of the Railway Staff College of the Indian Railways, with its 206-acre campus and associated infrastructure, to the Indian Military Academy. Brigadier L.P. Collins was appointed the first Commandant and the first batch of 40 Gentleman Cadets (GC), as IMA trainees are known, began their training on 1 October 1932. The institute was inaugurated on 10 December 1932 by Field Marshal Philip Chetwode.[9][11]

The first Commander-in-Chief of the Burma Army, General Smith Dun, graduated at the top of his class at the Indian Military Academy. He also commanded the parade for the first course.[12]

In 1934, before the first batch had passed out, then Viceroy Lord Willingdon presented colours to the academy on behalf of George V. The first batch of cadets to pass out of the Academy in December 1934, now known as the Pioneers, included Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw,[13] General Muhammad Musa[14] and Lieutenant General Smith Dun, who became the Army Chiefs of India, Pakistan, and Burma, respectively.[15][16] The second, third, fourth and fifth batches were respectively called Immortals, Invincible, Stalwarts and Bahadurs.[17]

Through the first 16 regular courses that passed out of the academy, until May 1941, 524 officers were commissioned. But the outbreak of the Second World War resulted in an unprecedented increase in the number of entrants, a temporary reduction in the training period to six months and an expansion of the campus. 3887 officers were commissioned between August 1941 and January 1946, including 710 British officers for the British Army. The academy reverted to its original two and a half year course of training at the end of the war.[18]


Following the Independence of India in August 1947, a number of trainers and cadets left for Britain and Pakistan.[19] Brigadier Thakur Mahadeo Singh, DSO, was appointed the first Indian Commandant of the academy.[20] The 189 GCs who passed out on 20 December 1947 were the first batch from IMA to be commissioned into a free India.[17]

In late 1947, the Chiefs of Staff of the Indian Armed Forces following the recommendation of a 1946 committee headed by Field Marshal Claude Auchinleck, decided to initiate an action plan to commission a new Joint Services training academy. In the interim, they decided to conduct Joint Services training at the IMA.[21] The IMA was renamed the Armed Forces Academy and a new Joint Services Wing (JSW) was commissioned on 1 January 1949, while training of Army officers continued in the Military Wing.[22][23]

The academy was renamed as the National Defence Academy (NDA) on 1 January 1950, ahead of India becoming a Republic. In December 1954, when the new Joint Services training academy was established in Khadakwasla, near Pune, the NDA name along with the Joint Services Wing was transferred to Khadakwasla.[24] The academy in Dehradun was then rechristened as Military College.[25][26] Brigadier M.M. Khanna, MVC was the first IMA alumni to be appointed Commandant of the IMA at the end of 1956.[27]

9th Madras lays its colours at Chetwode Hall at IMA, Dehradun in 1956
Logo of the Indian Military Academy. The colours are the Academy Colours - Blood and Steel.[28]

In 1960, the founding name, Indian Military Academy, was reinstated. On 10 December 1962, on the 30th anniversary of the academy's inauguration, the second President of India, Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, presented new colours to the academy.[29] (The first colours were presented by Viceroy Lord Willington on 18 November 1934.)[17]

From 1963 until August 1964, following the Sino-Indian War, the duration of regular classes was truncated, emergency courses were initiated and new living quarters for cadets were added. However, unlike previous wars, the Indo-Pakistan War of 1965 and that of 1971 did not disrupt academy training or graduation schedules. On 11 February 1971, William G Westmoreland, Chief of Staff, United States Army visited the academy.[30]

In 1976, the four battalions of the IMA were renamed after Field Marshal Kodandera Madappa Cariappa, General Kodandera Subayya Thimayya, Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw and Lieutenant General Premindra Singh Bhagat, with two companies each. On 15 December 1976, then President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed presented new colours to the IMA.[31] In the 1970s, the Army Cadet College (ACC) was shifted from Pune to Dehradun, becoming a wing of the IMA. In 2006, the ACC was merged into the IMA as the fifth battalion, the Siachen Battalion.[32][33]

By 1 October 2019, the 87th Raising Day, the number of GCs to have passed out from IMA stood at 61762, with foreign alumni coming from 33 friendly countries.[34] Foreign countries included Angola, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Myanmar, Ghana, Iraq, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Nepal, Nigeria, Palestine, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Tonga, Uganda, Yemen and Zambia.[35]


The academy is located in the Doon Valley (Dronacharya Ashram), Uttarakhand. National Highway 72 separates the North and South Campus. The campus of the academy covers an area of 1,400 acres (5.7 km2).[36] The Chetwode Hall on the Drill Square, built in 1930, houses the administrative headquarters of the IMA and is also the hub of academic training. It has lecture halls, computer labs and a cafe. On the opposite side of the Drill Square is the Khetarpal Auditorium. Inaugurated in 1982, it has a seating capacity of over 1500.[37]

A newer wing of the Chetwode Hall, added in 1938, houses the Central Library. It has over 100,000 volumes and subscriptions to hundreds of periodicals from across the world, besides multimedia sections. In addition, there are two branch libraries closer to the cadet barracks across the campus.[38][39]

The IMA Museum on the campus displays artifacts of historic importance such as the pistol of Lieutenant General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi of the Pakistan Army, surrendered to Lt Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora after signing the Instrument of Surrender to end the Liberation War of 1971.[40] A Patton tank captured from Pakistan Army is also on the grounds.[41]

Athletic facilities[edit]

The South Campus of the IMA includes facilities such as the Somnath Stadium, with a seating capacity of 3000, the Salaria Aquatic Centre, consisting of an Olympic sized swimming pool,[37] and the Hoshiar Singh Gymnasium.[42] The North Campus includes the polo ground along the Tons River. Tons Valley to the Northwest of the campus which is bounded by the forks and bends of the Tons River. It is used for para-dropping and para-gliding, besides battle training.[43] Other facilities include stables with a stud farm,[44] a small arms shooting range and the Epee Fencing Modern Pentathlon.[45]

War Memorial[edit]

The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, signing the visitors’ book at the War Memorial in Indian Military Academy.

The IMA War Memorial, with its pillars and columns of Dholpur stone, pays homage to the alumni of the academy who have fallen in the course of action. At the sanctum sanctorum of the memorial is a bronze statue of a Gentleman Cadet with a sword presenting arms.[46] The memorial was inaugurated by Field Marshal Manekshaw on 17 November 1999, just weeks after the Kargil War.[26] IMA officers led and fought in the war, with some of them becoming household names in India for their gallantry. Among their ranks were two Param Vir Chakra recipients and eight Maha Vir Chakra recipients.[38]

Cadet life[edit]

There are various modes of entry into IMA which include - on graduation from National Defence Academy, on graduation from Army Cadet College (a wing of the IMA itself); direct entry through the civil services exam followed by SSB exams; and technical entry under university and college schemes.[47]

A trainee on admission to the IMA is referred to as a Gentleman Cadet (GC). One reason for this is that the academy expects its graduates to uphold the highest moral and ethical values. Inscribed in the oak panelling at the Eastern entrance of the Chetwode Hall is the academy's credo, excerpted from the speech of Field Marshal Chetwode at the inauguration of the academy in 1932:[48][11]

The Safety, Honour and Welfare of your country come first, always and every time.
The Honour, Welfare and Comfort of the men you command come next.
Your own Ease, Comfort and Safety come last, always and every time.

— Field Marshal Philip Chetwode

The freshman GCs hail from diverse backgrounds.[41] Whatever the difference, the Academy plays a vital role in molding and anchoring it into a common bonding.[41] Training makes all-rounders out of the cadets. From battle craft to route-marches, field engineering and tactics to photography, international relations to painting, military technology to physical training, drill, games and etiquette the training is action-filled, intense, diverse and fast.[41] Significant emphasis is placed on self discipline – "the true armour".[49]

IMA and AFA during the Sabhiki Cup-2016, a sports meet for trainees of five premier officer training academies of the Army, Navy and Air force.

It is a test of the GC's mettle and abilities, and "in psychological terms a foretaste of what the trainees would face in the battlefield where there is no room or no scope of explanation and rationalization for failures". The training also becomes a pathway to understanding more profound aspects such as honour and dignity, and the other important values of life.[50][51]

Cadet are surrounded by the names and stories of past soldiers in the form of battalions and companies and buildings named after them, and as a result a common thoughts runs throughout, "will we be able to lead our men like they did", will they be able to earn the respect of the men they are tasked to lead like they have?[41]

The IMA is not merely a training establishment where one was trained to be an officer, but a source of continuous inspiration for its alumni.

(Singh 2007, p. 8)


IMA Cadets are organized as a regiment with four training battalions, of four companies each. There were sixteen companies in 2013. Battalions are named for generals of the Indian Army (except for Siachen Battalion), while companies are named for battles of the Army.[25]


Technical graduates, ex-NDA, ex-ACC and university entry cadets undergo training at IMA for one year. Direct entry cadets train for one and a half years while the TA officers course is for 3 months.[52] A gentleman cadet gets a stipend of Rs 56,100/- per month for the duration of the course.[53]

With the mission of grooming future military leaders of the Indian Army, the training regime at IMA progressively moulds the physical and mental attributes and sharpens the operational and administrative skills of cadets. Physical training, drills, weapons training, leadership development and practices form the focus of the training with the aim of making cadets "capable of combating contemporary conflict realities".[52] Character building is embedded in the honour code of IMA "I shall not lie, steal or cheat, nor tolerate those who do so". The "Warrior Code" of IMA has been adopted from the "Bhagwat Gita", which also talks of compassion.[52]

Physical endurance training for GCs

Weapon training includes the Close Quarter Battle (CQB) Range, Location of Miss and Hit Target System (LOMAH), Jungle Lane Shooting and Team Battle Shooting Range (TBSR).[52] The curriculum is reviewed from time to time and adapted to whatever the current situation the country is in. Cadets are also put in roles where they need to think like the enemy such as in Exercise Chindit where some GCs are asked to act as terrorists while others have to capture them.[54] They are trained in various forms of warfare – conventional war, proxy war, low intensity conflict, counter-insurgency etc.[55]

Games and sports include cross country, hockey, basketball, polo, athletics, football, aquatics, volleyball and boxing. There is also an annual sports meet with other military academies in India. Adventure activities undertaken at the academy include trekking, cycling, and rock climbing.[52] The nature of training at the academy is dangerous and cadets have died during training.[56][57]

Passing Out Parade[edit]

The President, Pratibha Devisingh Patil, reviewing the Passing Out Parade at IMA in 2011
Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral RK Dhowan at the passing out parade of IMA, 2015

There are various traditions in IMA and one of the most well known is the Passing out Parade (POP). Before the cadets begin the POP, the band plays an aarti, allowing the cadets to pray to their respective gods.[58]

Traditionally, the adjutant leads the parade cracking a joke to lighten the atmosphere.[58] Having senior officers present during the POP is a morale booster for the cadets. In 2019, the reviewing officer for the 136th parade was Lt Gen Cherish Mathson.[59]

During the POP, a civilian dignitary may also make a speech, as was the case during the passing out parade in 1962 when the President Dr S Radhakrishnan addressed the cadets,[60] and in 2007 when the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh did so.[61] In 1982, during the golden jubilee, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi inspected the POP while in 1992, the President R Venkataraman reviewed the diamond jubilee POP (winter term).[62]

The finale is the antim path (final step), where cadets take the last step into Chetwode Hall.[63] The passing out also consists of traditions such as presentation of a "Sword of Honour" to the best cadet.[64] The tradition of cap-flinging during the passing out parade has a long past but it was stopped in 2010 and replaced by the cadets doing pushups.[65][66]

Notable alumni[edit]

Over 61,000 GCs have graduated from IMA.[34] IMA alumni have led and fought in every conflict in which the Indian Army has been called upon to render service since the academy was established. Numerous alumni have earned laurels, made the ultimate sacrifice and been honoured with gallantry awards. Till 2016, alumni from the academy are recipients of 7 Param Vir Chakras, 17 Ashoka Chakra, 84 Maha Vir Chakras and 257 Vir Chakras.[17] Alumni are also recipients of 2 Sarvattam Yudh Seva Medals, 28 Uttam Yudh Seva Medals, 41 Kirti Chakra and 163 Shaurya Chakra.[67]

Sam Manekshaw, an alumnus of the IMA, was the first in India to become a Field Marshal. General Bipin Rawat, the current Chief of Army Staff (COAS), as well as a number of past COASs including General Vijay Kumar Singh, General Dalbir Singh Suhag, General Bikram Singh, General Deepak Kapoor, General J. J. Singh, General Shankar Roy Chowdhury and General Sunith Francis Rodrigues are all alumni of IMA.

In 1941, during World War II, then 2nd Lieutenant Premindra Singh Bhagat was awarded the Victoria Cross. Captain Mateen Ahmed Ansari and Captain Sartaj Singh were awarded the George Cross. 71 Military Crosses were awarded to IMA Alumni during that war, and over 200 alumni were killed in action. Kashmir Singh Katoch, a Padma Bhushan recipient and the military advisor to Hari Singh, the erstwhile ruler of the princely state of Kashmir, completed his military training from IMA in 1936.[68] General Mohan Singh Deb, commander-in-chief of the First Indian National Army which fought against the British for the independence of India, was also an alumnus.

Alumni who have been honoured with the Param Vir Chakra include Major Somnath Sharma (posthumous), Captain Gurbachan Singh Salaria (posthumous), Lieutenant Colonel Hoshiar Singh, 2nd Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal (posthumous), Captain Vikram Batra (posthumous)[69] Captain Manoj Kumar Pandey (posthumous).[69]

During the Kargil War of 1999, the Maha Vir Chakra was awarded posthumously to academy alumni, Major Rajesh Singh Adhikari, Major Vivek Gupta, Captain Anuj Nayyar, Captain Neikezhakuo Kenguruse[70] and Lieutenant Keishing Clifford Nongrum. Major Balwan Singh and Major Sonum Wangchuk were also awarded the Maha Vir Chakra. Lt Triveni Singh was posthumously awarded the Ashok Chakra Award.[71]

The Academy has produced Olympians such as Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, a Sword of Honor recipient, who won a silver medal at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games and went on to become the sports minister;[72] Colonel Balbir Singh Kular scored three goal in hockey during the 1968 Olympics. IMA alumni who have received India's highest award for sports, the Arjuna Award, include Major General Mohammed Amin Naik for his achievements in rowing and Brigadier Raj Manchanda for his achievements in squash.[73] Lt Col Satyendra Verma carried out the first base jump in the country.[73][74]

Foreign alumni[edit]

Foreign alumni of the IMA have also done well in their countries.

In 2019, foreign cadets taking part in the spring term passing out parade numbered 77 with Afghanistan having the most number of foreign gentleman cadets graduating, 45 in total.[85] In the POP on 10 December 2005, Penjor Gyeltshen, an officer from the Royal Bhutan Army, became the first foreigner since India’s independence to win the Sword of Honour (presented to the best cadet).[86] In 1972, Prince Tu'ipelehake was the first Tongan to attend IMA.[87]

In popular culture[edit]

A commemorative golden jubilee postal stamp of the Indian Military Academy. Visible is the Chetwode Building, built in 1930 and designed by Robert Tor Russell.[46]

Making of a Warrior, a documentary by Dipti Bhalla and Kunal Verma, provides an inside look at the IMA's culture, traditions and training regime. The 2004 Bollywood film Lakshya is partly shot in IMA as well as the Tamil film Vaaranam Aayiram.[40] In 2015 Tanushree Podder penned a novel called "On The Double: Drills, Drama, and Dare-Devilry at the Indian Military Academy", a fictional portrayal of a gentleman cadets life.[88]

See also[edit]


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