National Defence Academy intake swells to 400

July 3rd, 2008 - 12:18 pm ICT by IANS  

By Ritu Sharma
New Delhi, July 3 (IANS) There is good news for the officer-depleted Indian armed forces. After facing a drought during its January intake, the premier National Defence Academy (NDA) at Khadakvasla in Maharashtra has been able to attract 371 cadets for the new course that began last month and hopes to cross the 400 mark.

“For the latest batch, 371 cadets have so far turned up and we are expecting the number to touch 420,” an NDA official said.

The inter-services institution trains cadets for the three wings of the armed forces. They graduate after three years and are further trained at the academies of the army, the navy and the air force before being commissioned as officers.

This January, the number of cadets joining the academy fell drastically, with only 192 turning up against the sanctioned strength of 300 for the batch. This had raised questions about the military failing to attract the right kind of candidates due to more attractive opportunities available in the private sector.

Reacting to this, Defence Minister A.K. Antony had said: “The shortage is a reality. The government will take positive and active action in consultation with the army to lure youngsters to join the army.”

NDA commandant Air Marshal T.S. Randhawa had expressed optimism that the January shortfall would be compensated by the June intake.

“For the courses that begin in January, we generally have been receiving fewer candidates as compared to the courses that commence in June. Currently, we are only short of 50 cadets against our sanctioned strength of 1,800,” Randhawa had said at the passing out parade of NDA’s 114th course on May 31.

The orientation programme for the new joinees has already commenced at NDA.

“The eight-week orientation programme has begun. We are introducing them to physical activities and taking them around NDA to acquaint them with the academy,” the NDA official said.

The defence forces annually need 2,100 officers.

The Indian Army, with a sanctioned strength of 46,615 officers, faces a shortage of 11,238 officers.

The problem has been further aggravated with as many as 3,000 officers seeking early retirement from the army in the last three years, with most of them moving to the corporate sector.

The Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force too face shortages of 1,000 officers each.

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