Academic training formed an integral part of the NDA curricula since its inception. Mr. JTM Gibson, the first Principal, was instrumental in establishing and implementing academic training at the Inter Services Wing in the true pioneering spirit, against daunting odds. The National War Academy Syllabus and Establishment Committee (Jha Committee II) chaired by Dr. Amarnath Jha, drew up a two year course syllabus for the ISW in 1948, fixing the ratio of Academic subjects to Service subjects as 2:1. This syllabus was recognized as equivalent to Intermediate Science by a majority of Indian Universities.
The syllabus underwent modifications and amendments from time to time incorporating current trends and requirements. The syllabus in vogue in 1961 was comparable to that which was prevalent in Indian Universities. However, the coveted academic milestone was achieved through concerted efforts only in August 1973, when the NDA was finally degree linked and affiliated to the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. The 46th course achieved the unique distinction of being the first Graduate Course to pass out of NDA on 07 June 1974.
The teaching of computer fundamentals to cadets was introduced as early as 1987. As early as the 1980s, the growing impact of computers on Armament and Warfare could be visualized in the shape of things to come. The ground realities of the Gulf War only served to underscore the inevitability, indispensability and effectiveness of Information Technology with regard to war. Computer education at the Academy finally came of age when the first batch of twenty-five cadets of Ninety-Seventh course graduated with a B Sc degree in Computer Science in Dec 1999. Based on their academic profile and performance in the classification test, a cadet has the option of joining either the Science or the Humanities stream.
A class in progress
Meanwhile, the syllabus saw several revisions, significantly, one by the Mahajani Committee in 1969 and another by the Committee for the Review of the Training of Officers of the three Services (CORTOS) in 1986. The aim was to update the training of cadets so as to keep pace with the changing world. The present syllabus as NDA is the result of a major review by two Committees, namely, the Inter-Services Study Group (ISSG) and the Academic Study Group (ASG) constituted by the Chiefs of Staff Committee on 27 April 2004 and 02 Feb 2005, respectively.
The ISSG reviewed the content of Service training, while the ASG overhauled the academic curricula. The new academic curricula recommended by the ASG constituted three categories of Courses - the Compulsory Course, the Optional Course and the Foundation Course. The syllabus of the Compulsory Course comprising English, Foreign Languages, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, Computer Science, History, Political Science, Economics and Geography, has been completely revamped. Cadets of the Science and Humanities streams study their respective compulsory subjects. On the other hand, the subjects covered under the Optional Course, which are taken up in the V and VI term, cater to the requirements of individual Services.
Cadets experimenting on Operational Analyser
Besides, the committee reorganized the subjects earlier taught under the nomenclature, "Common Service Subjects". The earlier system of ‘Cross-Stream Subjects has been done away with, and in its place was introduced the Foundation Course, consisting of two components, namely, Military Studies and General Studies. In Military Studies, topics such as Military History, Military Geography, Weapons and Armaments etc., are taught. General Studies covers subjects like Environmental Science, Geopolitics, Human Rights, Law of Armed Conflict etc. This course was also linked to Degree conferred by the JNU, New Delhi. As far as Foreign Languages were concerned, the committee recommended that Arabic, Chinese, French and Russian be retained and that Foreign Languages be taught only to cadets who are proficient in both Hindi and English.
Soaking up knowledge
The Education Branch is responsible for conduct of all activities related to academic training of cadets which constitutes 68% of the total training curriculum. The Principal is the head of the Education Branch. He is assisted by the Registrar who is responsible for planning, conduct and monitoring of all aspects pertaining to the three year degree course. Further, the Education Branch is organized into twelve departments which are run by the Heads of Department and a team of Associate Professors and Assistant Professors.
Academic excellence is a prerequisite for continued trainability. Academic instruction at the NDA is imparted by qualified and highly motivated Civilian and Service Instructors. The curriculum is well rounded, but demanding. It is supported by up-to-date libraries and laboratories. The aim is to achieve excellence in academic pursuits without compromising on outdoor activities.
Considering the growing complexities of present day warfare and its varied forms, the academic syllabi have been updated and further enriched with Defence Application Courses.
The 21st century is a knowledge century; NDA Education Branch has always promoted technology oriented, innovative learning processes, to hone the skills of cadets, develop their spirit of enquiry, logical reasoning and lateral thinking. The objective is to sharpen their analytical abilities and make them capable of taking well informed decisions. This takes into consideration the need to develop their personalities as ‘Soldier-Scholars’, emerging as confident leaders not only contributing to National Security, but also to the overall development of our Nation.