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Careers in the Army: How you can sign up
Navin Kumar
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April 21, 2008

Part I: All you need to know about careers in the Army

India has many military academies that take promising young cadets and mould them into the fighters and commanders of tomorrow. All expenses, including mess and books, are paid for by the military. Here'a a look at some of them.

National Defense Academy
Located in Khadakwasla, Pune, the NDA (whose motto is 'Service Before Self') is a joint services academy started in 1954, covering an area of 8,300 acres. It is the foundation for a career in the Indian Armed Forces. Candidates join the NDA after their 10+2 and are trained in the academy for a period of 3 years (six terms) during which they earn a BA or BSc from the Jawaharlal Nehru University.

The Academy is well-known for its athletic facilities: it has two Olympic size swimming pools, a gymnasium, 32 football grounds, polo grounds, a cricket stadium and a number of squash and tennis courts. The NDA claims to focus on "character building, esprit-de-corps, mental and physical robustness, leadership and a sense of keen observation."

For those who intend to join the army, the NDA gives "a combination of outdoor and indoor training" which include marksmanship, martial arts etc, in addition to innumerable field skills and visits to military bases. 

Three 4-day 'camps' are held to give cadets field experience. The first camp 'Greenhorn' is conducted in the second term to teach cadets the basics of field work: map reading, tent pitching, navigation etc. The second camp 'Rover' is held in the fourth term to teach battle basics. The third camp 'Torna', conducted in the sixth term, gives the cadet a chance to put into practice various battle simulations aand is taught patrolling, ambushing etc.

The NDA has been awarding BSc degrees in computer science since 1987 and states that computers and IT have become indispensable to modern warfare. Cadets are taught two courses: General Studies, covering subjects like Geopolitics, Human Rights etc and Military Studies covering Military History, Armaments etc. Academics cover 68 per cent of the curriculum at the NDA.

Admissions to the NDA are done through a competitive exam held by the UPSC twice a year (Combined Defense Services Examination). Those who pass the exam are required to undergo a personality and intelligence test conducted by the Service Selection Board. The SSB interview lasts five days and is followed by a medical test.

It must be noted that the NDA accepts only unmarried cadets. Any cadet who marries before the completion of his course is discharged and required to repay any expenses incurred by the government.

Indian Military Academy
The Dehradun-based Indian Military Academy (motto: 'Valour and Wisdom') was set up in the year 1932. On it's first roll were Sam Manekshaw, Smith Dun and Musa Khan, all three of whom went on to become Chief of Army Staff for their respective countries (Indian, Burma and Pakistan). The IMA has facilities for 1600 'Gentlemen Cadets'.

The IMA has three major sources of cadets: those coming in from the NDA, those servicemen entering from the ACC and graduates from technical schools and colleges entering through the Graduate Direct Entry Scheme.

The IMA imparts Service Training to prepare Gentlemen Cadets to command an infantry platoon when called to duty. The syllabus trains the GCs to assume command of men in battle, acquire basic knowledge of tactics, weaponry, physical fitness, drills and their application as a platoon commander as well as learn the basics of administration.

GCs are given a through training in tactics. They are taught ground, fire and movement tactics, the use of supporting arms and services, irregular warfare spectrum to deal with insurgencies and are put through many tactical exercises.

Physical training, adventure activities and academic subjects like Military History and Computer Applications are also taught to reorient the cadet's knowledge and skill. Hindi and English are both taught.

One of the unique points about the IMA is the Army Cadet College, which is located on campus. The purpose of the ACC is to train servicemen from Other Ranks to become officers. The course is similar to the one conducted by the NDA ie a three-year, six term BA/BSc degree granted by the JNU.

The IMA, through the Technical Graduate Scheme, takes in engineering graduates, who are eligible to join certain branches of the army like the Corps of Engineers, the Armored Corps, Artillery, Infantry etc. Non-engineering post-graduates are also allowed to join the Corps of Engineers, the Signal Corps and the Corps of Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.

There are also several other paths of entry. Under the '10+2 Technical Entry Scheme', non-graduates can also join the IMA. The University Entry Scheme allows engineering students in their final and pre-final years to join the IMA.

Like the NDA, the IMA accepts only unmarried cadets. It trains only those cadets who have opted for a Permanent Commission. GCs are given a monthly stipend of Rs 8,000.   

Officer's Training Academy
The Officers Training Academy, in Chennai, trains those cadets who have opted for a Short Service Commission.

The curriculum, facilities and modes of entry are similar to the ones available at the IMA (with the absence of an ACC), the OTA distinguishes itself in many ways.

Firstly, it is the only military academy that allows the entry of women through its' Women Special Entry Scheme. Women are allowed to enlist under a Short Service Commission and all trainees are sent to the OTA to be trained. The rules of entry and qualifications are similar to those available to male cadets (a written exam followed by a SSB interview and medical tests). Only unmarried women are allowed to enlist.

Secondly, there is a special entry scheme for members of the National Cadet Corps. NCC 'C' Certificate holders are permitted to appear directly for the SSB interview, leapfrogging over the written test. The cadet must be a graduate of a recognised university and have served for two years with the NCC. He must have obtained at least a B-grade on his 'C' certificate. 

Part 1: All you need to know about careers in the Army

Also read: Careers in the Indian Navy

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