While the Supreme Court has commended the Center and three service heads for their decision to give women permanent commissions and allow them to enter the National Defense Academy (NDA), various discussions are underway on the need for long-term effectiveness in this regard.

Current NDA rules

Brigadier Amardeep Singh (retired), 59
M NDA course and 69
M The regular course, introduced in December 1981, the IMA says, “Currently the NDA is a men’s base. It is the only academy of its kind where cadets receive training for three services, including the army, navy and air force.”



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In the NDA, cadets are divided into squadrons or fighting units, which serve as the family of the cadets and are the source of their pride for the entire duration of their course at the academy. “The three-year course at the NDA is divided into six six-month courses. No matter which service a cadet chooses at the time of admission, the basic syllabus and training remain the same for all first-year cadets.

He added that cadets have to pass both physical exams and academics to get commission in the armed forces. “Three failed attempts between the two elements could lead to expulsion from the academy,” Brigadier Singh said.

Female army officer

A female army officer who has served for more than 15 years on condition of anonymity said the doors of the Officers Training Academy (OTA), Chennai, were opened to women in 1992. Female platoon commander or company commander to lead female cadets. Gradually, problems begin to be resolved and women feel comfortable being a part of the armed forces, ”she said.


The OTA has 11 months of long training for women, which includes all aspects taught during the 18 months of training at the Indian Military Academy (IMA). “We were also given physical combat training. Although the intensity of our training remained the same as that of the male cadets, at that time we were able to complete the assigned tasks, ”he added.

Once female cadets complete their training, they receive commissions in the armed forces. “Today, female cadets have been given commissions for a period of ten years, which can be increased to 14 (10 + 4) if the officer so desires. If a female officer wants to get a permanent commission, she will be evaluated in the years of her tenure and will be rewarded, ”the officer added.

So far, the OTA has received commissions from the OTA in all cases except for female cadet infantry, armored corps, artillery and mechanical infantry, the female officer said.

Bringing girls to the NDA


One of the main topics of discussion was the need to include girls in the NDA. Brigadier Singh said girls naturally have different anatomy than men. “No one is questioning the ability of the girls. Of concern is the culture of the NDA where all participants, trainers and trainees are accustomed to making ‘boys’ from ‘boys’. Under no circumstances should the level of training provided in the NDA be changed, as it may affect the passing out cadets, ”he said.

Thus, the girls who will join the NDA will have a difficult road ahead, as they will have to redesign their mindset and attitude towards accepting women as cadets, let alone commanding a platoon as a senior officer. “This practice would seem futile unless the thought process involves girls in the front-line role in the military, which is not yet clear,” she said.

Possible alternatives

Currently commissioned female officials say women could be allowed direct admission to the IMA instead of changing the NDA layout. “Entry into IMA is two-way. NDA cadets go to IMA for additional one year training after completing their three year training. Another option is for college graduates to be admitted directly to IMA for 18 months of long training. Like the Air Force Academy and the Naval Academy, women can be allowed to join the armed forces, ”she said.

Brigadier Singh provided another perspective. “The OTA already has a training infrastructure for female cadets. If the idea is to equate women with men in position and rank, the NDA can work on options to expand the academy’s existing infrastructure instead of pressuring women through the rigorous training required.


Spread awareness

Shishir Dixit, founder and director of Centurion Defense Academy in Lucknow, said, “My academy has already received more than 100 applications from girls who want to take the NDA entrance exam. Their enthusiasm for the possibility of being part of the NDA is incredible, ”he added.

However, proper awareness needs to be spread to ensure that girls understand their potential as Army officers. “Inviting girls to military schools was a great first step,” said a retired army officer, speaking on condition of anonymity. Taking the help of social media to spread the word to more girls and more importantly their parents is an important next step.

He added that army officers stationed locally should give direct speeches and hold one-on-one sessions with aspiring girls to give them a realistic picture of the army. “Currently, commissioned female officers will encourage young girls in uniforms to be part of the NDA,” the official said.


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