National Defence Academy (India)

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National Defence Academy
NDA Insignia-1956.gif
सेवा परमो धर्मः (sēvā paramō dharma)
Motto in English
Service Before Self
TypeMilitary Academy
Established7 December 1954
CommandantAir Marshal IP Vipin VM
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 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 academies for further pre-commissioning training. The NDA is located in Khadakwasla, Pune, Maharashtra. It is the first tri-service academy in the world.

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.[2]


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

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. At the end of the war, Field Marshal Claude Auchinleck, then Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army, drawing on experiences of the army during the war, led a committee to study various military academies around the world and submitted a report to the Government of India in Dec. 1946. The committee recommended the establishment of a Joint Services Military Academy, with training modelled on the United States Military Academy at West Point.[3]

After the independence of India in Aug. 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. Initially, after two years of training at the JSW, Army cadets went on to the Military wing of the AFA for two years of further pre-commission training, while the Navy and Air Force cadets were sent to Dartmouth and Cranwell in the United Kingdom for further training.

Following partition, India's share of the monetary gift received from Sudan, amounted to £70,000 (the remaining £30,000 went to Pakistan). The Indian Army decided to use these funds to partly cover the cost of construction of the NDA. The foundation stone for the academy was laid by then Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru on 6 October 1949. The National Defence Academy was formally commissioned on 7 December 1954, with an inauguration ceremony held on 16 January 1955.[4] The 10th JSW program was transferred from Clement Town, Dehradun to NDA Khadakwasla.The 10th course NDA passed out in Jun 1956.


The Sudan Block and the Ashok Stambha at the National Defence Academy
Shivaji memorial at the National Defence Academy[5] The 17th century Maratha warrior king is considered as the Father of Indian Navy.[6] [7]
National Defence Academy, Sudan Block

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) donated by the Government of the former Bombay State. The site was chosen for being on a lake shore, the suitability of the neighbouring hilly terrain, 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.[3] Aptly, NDA is also located in the hunting grounds of the legendary Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, with the Sinhagad Fort as a panoramic backdrop.

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. 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. On the walls of the foyer hang the portraits of NDA graduates who have been honored with the highest gallantry awards, the Param Vir Chakra or the Ashoka Chakra.

A number of war relics adorn the NDA campus, including captured tanks and aircraft.[8] The Vyas Library offers an extensive collection of over 100,000 printed volumes, in addition to numerous electronic subscriptions and a number of periodicals and journals from around the world in at least 10 languages.

Twelve Indian states donated approximately Rs. 5,00,000 each for the construction of the various Squadrons. The following Squadron buildings have been named after the donor states:'A' – "Madras" & "Andhra Pradesh"; 'B' – "Madhya Pradesh"; 'C' – "Maharashtra"; 'D' – "Bihar"; 'E' – "Uttar Pradesh"; 'F' – "Orissa"; 'G' – "Gujarat"; 'H' – "Karnataka"; 'I' – "Punjab"; 'J' – "West Bengal"; 'K' – "Assam"; 'L' – "Mumbai"

Admission and Selection Process[edit]

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. 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.

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.[9]

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.[10]


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


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.[11]


Training Pattern

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.[12] 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.

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. 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.

Squadrons and Battalions[edit]

On reporting to the Academy, a cadet is 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. No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 Battalions have four squadrons each while No. 5 has 2 squadrons. Each squadron has approximately 100 to 120 cadets drawn from senior as well as junior courses under training in the Academy. In the recently concluded Autumn term[year needed] – 14, November Squadron, who call themselves as "Ninjas" emerged as champion Squadron and won the coveted "Chiefs of Staff Banner" for the consecutive second time.

As the number of cadets joining the NDA is increasing annually, the Defence Ministry Of India had recently sanctioned the raising of 16th, 17th and 18th squadrons, with the initial letter of their names being "P", "Q" and "R" respectively. It is remarkable that the newly raised "Panther" squadron won the Academy cross-country run championship in its first participation in Spring 2012.[13][14]

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.

Service training[edit]


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 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 is conducted to introduce a fourth term cadet to the basic battle subjects. In the sixth term Camp Torna 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. The training is geared to prepare a cadet to lead an infantry section effectively. Other aspects covered during the camp include map-reading and 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 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. The SSC qualification cadets to prepare 10+2 in INA trains to SUB-COMMANDOER skills. 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.

The major emphasis is laid on Navigation, Seamanship and Communication. A total of 328 theoretical classes which are currently under revision 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, CAI and 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.

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 sprit 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.

CCamp 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. NTT has been holding a huge repository of Watermanship equipment at Watermanship Training Centre, Peacock Bay located on the waterfront of Khadakwasla lake. Watermanship clubs functional varieties at Watermanship Training Centre, Peacock Bay are as follows: Yachting, Kayaking, Windsurfing, Rowing, Water-skiing, Ship Modeling.

Air Force[edit]

The Air Force Training Team (AFTT) 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 instruments, Radio Telephony simulators and Flight simulators. Flying training 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. 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 Olympics, 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. Cadets were split into batches of 8 and allotted to an instructor. Each cadet was 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 light T-21Bs were usually winched up to 1,000', and were very easy to handle. The Rohini was much heavier and could only be winched up to 800', shortening average flight time to 4 min from 6 minutes earlier.

Instructors who felt that their pupil cadets had reached solo check status ahead of time could have such pupils fly with the CFI without prejudice to further flying training. Second and third solo sorties were also permitted. 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 Baby Eons and Eon Olympics were flown about once a fortnight by Instructor Pilots on Sundays, to keep them flyworthy. These were acquired German-design gliders from the pre-independence (1947) era and were showing their age, particularly the 1931-design Schneider Grunau Baby, rebuilt in the UK as the Baby Eon and the Hans Jacobs 1940-designed Olympia, produced in England from 1947 by Elliotts of Newbury. Both had plywood skins.

The induction of Super Dimona, a lightweight fixed wing powered aircraft in 2001, is a watershed in the history of AFTT and introduced a quantum jump in the quality of training. In addition to flying eight sorties on Super Dimona, a cadet is taught subjects like aerodynamics, navigation, aero engines, instrumentation, aviation medicine, airmanship, airframes, avionics & radio aids, meteorology, GSK and air power.

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.

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.[15]


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. 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.. Air Marshal I. P. Vipin, VM is the present commandant.


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.[16] 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.[17]

In the media[edit]

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.[18][19]


  1. ^ "Sacred Symbols". National Defence Academy. Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 1 May 2011.
  2. ^ ":: Welcome to National Defence Academy ::". Retrieved 10 December 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 19 April 2012. Retrieved 13 August 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "National Defence Academy Khadakwasla, Pune, India". Retrieved 13 August 2012.
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ Setumadhavarao S. Pagadi., Setumadhavarao S (1993). SHIVAJI. NATIONAL BOOK TRUST. p. 21. ISBN 81-237-0647-2.
  7. ^ Shivaji, R.; Sharma, S.L. (1974). 300th Anniversary of Coronation of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj: Souvenir. Foreign Window Pub. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  8. ^ "National Defence Academy". Warbirds of India. 19 November 2008. Retrieved 13 August 2012.
  9. ^ "NDA Selection Process".
  10. ^ "MISSION OF NATIONAL DEFENCE ACADEMY" (PDF). 4 May 2009. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  11. ^ Academics. National Defence Academy
  12. ^ PTI (30 November 2018). "NDA cadets conferred with JNU degrees". The Indian Express. Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  13. ^ "With Quebec & Romeo, NDA squadron strength up to 18". Indian Express. 4 March 2012. Retrieved 13 August 2012.
  14. ^ "New squadron wins honours in NDA cross country race". Indian Express. 20 February 2012. Retrieved 13 August 2012.
  15. ^ "Air Force Training Team". Retrieved 2 July 2016.
  16. ^ "National Defence Academy, NDA Pune Alumni".
  17. ^ "National Defence Academy, NDA Pune | Arjuna Award Winners from NDA". Archived from the original on 23 October 2007. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  18. ^ "'My Flag My Life', a Film insipers Youth to Join the Forces". Retrieved 13 August 2012.
  19. ^ "Now, a film to inspire youth to join the forces". The Times of India. 28 July 2009. Retrieved 13 August 2012.

External links[edit]