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NDA celebrates 75 years of military glory

PUNE (PTI): The National Defence Academy (NDA), which has produced world-class military leaders for the Indian Armed Forces, celebrated its 75th anniversary in Pune on Tuesday.

Since its inception in 1954, the academy has achieved the distinction of being an institution where military leaders were trained together to face the complex and technology-driven wars that the country has been fighting with its neighbours since independence.

In his valedictory address to a gathering at Habibullah Hall, General Anil Chauhan, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), from the 58th course of the NDA, said, "I joined the NDA 46 years ago as a 16-year-old boy straight from school who had no military background. We watched the film 'Cradle of Leadership' then. After 46 years, when I look back, I think the NDA is a bit more just than a 'cradle of leadership.' It is more than just an academy for the military cadets."

The academy was a nursery where boys turned into men and now women also, he said.

"It is a furnace where we forge steel. It is an institution where raw stone is polished into a diamond. It is a laboratory that transforms directionless youth into a focused leader. It is a school where we turn youth into professional soldiers. It is a crucible where we mould cadets into gentlemen, now girls. It is a seminary where we build faith and instil the spirit of nationalism. It is a place where we also learn to respect diversity. The bonds that we developed that last forever," General Chauhan said.
Many serving and retired officers echoed similar sentiments.

Ninety-two-year-old Major General VK Madhok (retd), who was from the first course of the erstwhile Joint Services Wing (JSW), was the senior-most military veteran in the gathering.

Applause thundered the packed hall when the nonagenarian stood to introduce himself.

"It is a special feeling being the proud cadet of the first course of the NDA," he said.

The first course has a special place in the academy's history. For the first time in the history of the Indian military, three chiefs of Army, Navy and Air force were the batchmates — General SF Rodrigues, who passed away in 2022, Air Chief Marshal (retd) NC Suri and Admiral L Ramdas (retd) were from the first course.

Coincidentally, the current chiefs are also batchmates and will celebrate 75 years of the academy.

"This achievement is no less than the proof that the 'NDA is the cradle of the military leadership'," said Air Chief Marshal NC Suri (retd), who served as the Indian Air Force (IAF) chief between 1991-93.

The three formative years at the academy instil in the cadets a sense of intense belonging, bonding and feelings of oneness with the alma mater.

Breaking bread and training together engender the spirit of camaraderie, which forms the bedrock of inter-service cooperation in times to come.

"By merging his identity with others, the cadet gains the solace of a herd, the power of a team and the leverage of a group. This attribute of solidarity stands him in good stead during testing times," a senior officer said.

The NDA has the unique distinction of being the first joint training institution in the world that trains future officers of all three services in the spirit of jointmanship that proved essential to success on the battlefield during World War II.

The founding fathers of NDA were given the mandate of establishing a National War Academy on the lines of USMA, West Point and the onus of transforming this idea into reality fell upon the Amarnath Jha Committee constituted in 1945.

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