January 19, 2018

An informative history of NDA courtesy

Wg Cdr Adarsh Bal.       HISTORY OF NDA

Background:

In 1941 the Government of Sudan gifted a sum of £100,000 (then a very large sum of about Rs 14 Lks) to the Viceroy to build a suitable War Memorial as a token of appreciation of the services and sacrifices made by the Indian troops for the defence of Sudan. Due to WW-II, and the character of the private armies from Rajputana, Hyderabad and Punjab who went to fight in Sudan, their peculiar mercenary status with a disconnect from the British officered Indian army, Hindus who were burnt and not buried, nothing was done to build a War Memorial. In 1943, then C-in-C Gen Auckinleck, directed that the unused fund is put to good use to build a new ‘Inter Service Academy (ISA), instead of wasting it on a National War Memorial. During the travel of the files up and down the corridors of power in South block in Delhi, ‘Inter Service Academy (ISA) morphed into a ‘National War Academy’ (NWA).

Based on recommendations of the C-in-C (then 2nd only to the Viceroy in GoI), on 22 Sep 1945 the Viceroy sanctioned construction of a new NWA to offer combined training to potential officers of three Services. The sanction envisaged setting up of an interim  ‘ Junior Experimental Wing’ (JEW) of the Indian Military Academy in Clement town (Dehradun), while the new NWA was to be built at the disused 28.4 Sq Km combined-forces training centre and mock landing ship, HMS Angostura, on the north bank of the Khadakwasla lake which had been used to train British and American troops for amphibious landings during early part of WW-II (Malaya campaign for which an amphibious attack had been planned). When NWA was ready, JEW was to shift to Khadakwasla. Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris, popularly known as ‘Le Corbusier’ was appointed as consultant to develop the architecture and design of NWA. After 3 yrs training, final commissioning of the Cdts was to be after specialist service training at existing IMA (Dehra Dun)/ equivalent academies for Navy and AF in UK.

In keeping with his ‘Paanch Sheel’ foreign policy, Nehru did not approve of the name NWA due to its aggressive overtones and hence the name was changed to National Defence Academy (NDA) while laying the foundation stone on 6 Oct 1949.India's share of £70,000 Sudanese gift (remaining £30,000 was given to Pak) was used to construct the administrative block of ‘NDA’ (Sudan Block). Twelve Indian states were asked to donate Rs 5 lks each for the construction of 12 Sqn residential blocks & the Cdt’s Mess. The donor states for the Sqn residential buildings were - 'A Sqn'  Madras & Andhra; 'B Sqn' - Madhya Pradesh; 'C Sqn' - Maharashtra; 'D Sqn' - Bihar; 'E Sqn' - Uttar Pradesh; 'F Sqn' - Orissa; 'G Sqn' - Gujarat; 'H Sqn' - Karnataka; 'I Sqn' - Punjab; 'J Sqn' - West Bengal; 'K Sqn' – Assam and 'L Sqn' - Bombay.  The first four residential blocks to be constructed along with Cdts mess was the one between Cdt’s mess and Gole market, slated for occupation by No 1 Bn, with Able, Baker, Charlie, and Dog Sqns, then at ISW in Dehradun. 

Formation:

While construction of NWA was being planned and executed, the interim plan for  ‘ Junior Experimental Wing’ (JEW)  was put into action, but under a new name ‘Inter Services Wing’ (ISW) to appease Baldev Singh who was then Def Minister. ISW started functioning on 17 Feb 1948, from the abandoned Italian Prisoner of War Camp barracks in Clement Town in Dehradun.  190 cadets (141 for the Army, 25 Navy and 24 for the Air Force) reported at Clement Town between 6- 9 Jan 1949, to form ‘Able’ and ‘Baker’ Sqns, with 4 Divisions subdivided into 8 ‘Sections’.  Though DK Ghosh, a naval cadet had the privilege of being Able -1, the first Cdt to report to ISW was A-188, DS Sabhiki (later Air Marshal) who reported at 0630 hrs on 6 Jan 1949.  The first batch had about 40 cadets from RIMC and KGRIM. Their training started from 11 Jan 1949.  In July 1949 when the second batch  joined, 'C' (Charlie) and 'D' (Dog) Sqns came in to being. It is not known when ISW changed to Joint Services Wing (JSW) or whether there was an official JSW. ISW (or later JSW) continued in Clement town and moved to Khadakwasla in small batches starting 7 Dec 1954.

ISW was officially notified as of 15 Dec 1948, when Col Kamta Prasad, Dy Cmdt designate and his team arrived in Clement Town, placed under command of Cmdt IMA  Brig Thakur Mahadeo Singh.  On 31 Dec 1948, Brig Singh issued routine orders splitting IMA into  Armed Forces Academy (AFA) wef 1 January 1949 with two Wings,  Military Wing  and an Inter-Services Wing (ISW). AFA was notified as the interim National War Academy, foibles of the political-military relations which existed right from day one after independence.

8 more residential blocks were commissioned in 1955, and NDA became a full-fledged establishment with around 1500 Cdts, under an independent  Maj Gen, distributed amongst 12 Sqns, ‘A to L’. During the naming of Sqns, phonetic names were adopted  and Able, Baker, Charlie and Dog became Alpha, Bravo, Charlie and Fox. The reason why Dog was not made Delta and why they were named Fox is also not known. Fox was shifted to 2nd Bn along with newly raised E, G & H Sqns (with Fox occupying the block facing the Cdt’s mess, southern group  of blocks) .  No 1 Bn (A/B/C/D) moved to the new set of Northern blocks with C facing the Dhobi Ghat (infamous well into which stolen cycles were dumped). The older blocks vacated by 1 Bn was allotted to 3rd Bn (how Kilo came to occupy the block, facing Gol Market vacated by Dog Sqn). 3rd  Bn was now on the western side, in line with the Cdt’s mess. The MH was to come up later. Rest of NDA was constructed using internal resources of the army, army engineers and pioneers, and extraordinary resourcefulness of the Commandants, with no help from GoI or Ministry of Defence, both of which deemed Army superfluous till 1959 Chinese incursions at Longju (NEFA) and Kongka La (Ladakh). Afterwards, India headed for a war (1962) necessitating officer cadre, products of NDA !! Brig Hoshiar Singh was  Dy Cmdt at NDA and was moved into NEFA during 62 war, go and offer his head on arrival.  

For a while, starting 1978, while augmenting the strength of cadets to 1800, there was a separate NDA wing at Ghorpuri (in Poona) with 1st term Cdts, all clubbed together with a sobriquet ‘Ghorpuri lot’. Ghorpuri was later vacated and all Cdts transferred to NDA.  It is understood that during Adm Pareira’s time, around 71/72, there was a clockwise rotation of Sqns in each Bn block. The reason for this is not known. Now NDA has grown to 5 Bns, with 18 Sqns , Alpha to Romeo under a Lt Gen (or equivalent). It is understood that  there is likely to be further increase in the size of NDA, perhaps in porta cabins.

Cheers to NDA,

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