Road Map On ‘Selection & Training’ Of Officer Cadets To Meet Futuristic Challenges

"This approach paper gives a true and holistic view of all the processes of 'selection and training' and bring out all their deep rooted flaws and serious shortcomings, together with sure and lasting solutions.”

Road Map On ‘Selection & Training’ Of Officer Cadets To Meet Futuristic Challenges

“The subject of ‘selection and training' of military officers is less known in the Services as very few officers get  to serve in military academies or DIPR qualified with a SSB posting experience. Such officers, too, despite their exposure, do not get a true and holistic picture of all the intricate and complex processes of 'selection and training' as their tenure is generally short and restricted to their specific charter of selection or training. Besides this fact, there has been no worthwhile review or audit in this field for the last six decades, leaving  little scope for any meaningful revision, refinement and reforms to take place.

This approach paper and brief, against the backdrop of two books 'Victory India – 1 & 2' has done just that! The collective  efforts of 50 co-authors and respondents, encapsulating 86 (eighty six) chapters, now gives to the environment, a true and holistic view of all the processes of 'selection and training' and bring out all their deep rooted flaws and serious shortcomings, together with sure and lasting solutions.”


For the past 67 years since our independence the Indian Armed Forces have been led and managed by its elite officer cadre. The bulk of the officer military leadership, especially at higher levels, for the past 4 decades, has comprised of those officers who received their basic military training at the National Defence Academy (NDA). Currently also, the NDA trained officers hold maximum higher military ranks and primarily responsible for/influence most military policy and executive decisions.

The subject of ‘quality military leadership’, its shortcomings and flaws with respect to the ‘selection and training’ procedures of military officers has been debated, discussed, analyzed and well documented for the past 4 years, by nearly 50 renowned and reputed military veterans, including several NDA trained officers.

The consensus of these veterans underlines the imperative need to address the serious anomalies that have crept into our system during the past 3 decades or so, and now become perennial issues in our system, including the NDA. The military challenges of the 21st century demand that the country and its armed forces collectively address these complex issues and grave challenges to improve the quality of our future military leadership.


The aim and objective of this paper is to offer a comprehensive analysis of what ails the processes of selection and training of officers in the Indian military for the benefit of COSC, Service HQs, HQ IDS, Selection and Military training institutions.

The authors of the paper start by identifying, in detail, the deficiencies and lacunae of the current system to assist the serving fraternity in a quest for solutions and remedies. They go on to pinpoint the responsibilities of key authorities and institutions and the duties that must be discharged by the executive hierarchy, both civil and military, of the latter (institutions).

It is the fervent hope of the authors that this paper will adequately convince the COSC to issue necessary directions to IDS and Service HQs so that an urgent process of assessment, review and reform can be initiated - both within the military and by allied civilian institutions such as the UPSC, DRDO/DIPR  etc.

It is a submission of the authors that collective, cohesive and coordinated action by all concerned agencies, institutional authorities, including political, bureaucratic and military, is the only answer to address these critical challenges that currently face the military and which will ultimately impact national security!"


The books ‘ Victory India – A key to Quality Military Leadership’ (Victory India ) and its sequel ‘Victory India -2’ have brought forth a wealth of revelations and deep insight into the selection and training norms of military officers, especially with respect to the National Defence Academy (NDA). The consensus reached by over 50 contributory authors and respondents makes abundantly clear, the imperative need of a serious review and introspection of the entire system, as ample evidence and compelling reasons suggest that immediate corrective measures be taken.

The matter is of national importance with serious adverse implications on our military competence and ability to befittingly respond to national security challenges. In this specific field of selection and training there is now an inescapable need for better awareness, visionary planning, decisive and speedy execution by all concerned with the issues from the highest level of the Prime Minister, Defence Minister, HRD Minister, Chiefs of Staff Committee, the three Services and all concerned Military Academies including the NDA.


Though the focus of this paper may appear to be primarily on the NDA as an institution, the broader goal is to look into the lesser known or less popular subject of ‘selection and training’. The NDA represents an important clog in selection and training process for officers and addressing its concerns would have a far reaching impact on improving quality in ‘selection and training’ across the board.

In fact, with the passage of time, the problems of selection, training and grooming have become so grave that they now defy solution (in the NDA context) and pose a great challenge not only to the three Services but also to the UPSC, DRDO, DIPR, MOD and MHRD. Analysis has revealed deep structural flaws/shortcomings that cannot be addressed piecemeal.

The problems are so deep rooted and complex that they will continue to defy solution till they are effectively uprooted, comprehensively thrashed out and tracked with a clear and unanimous consensus. Resolving and addressing the issues of the NDA must therefore take utmost priority—being the very source of our military leadership.


The research findings and deep analysis of renowned veterans and professionals must be used as ‘terms of reference’ and ‘beacons’ to reach and implement sure and lasting solutions.


Victory India - 1 & 2 has amply and elaborately revealed all the serious drawbacks and flaws besides giving multifarious corrective recommendations. In the present paper these complex elaborations have been presented in concise form, from an application point of view, to the concerned authorities, with the following specific aims in mind:

  • Stimulate and encourage serious thought on the vital ingredients of ‘selection and training’ in nurturing, cultivating and development of our officer military leadership.
  • Present a true, valid and holistic picture of the existing flaws and shortcomings in our ‘selection, training and grooming’ processes and the challenges involved in addressing and resolving them by the present office holders.
  • To present an outline action plan for all concerned authorities for addressing and resolving all their respective issues with due accountability and responsibility for completion of the same.
  • Stimulate and facilitate the formulation of a time bound action plan and road map, by the serving fraternity, for addressing all the intricate and complex issues.
  • Facilitating the creation of a monitoring tool for the use of higher authorities for holistic monitoring and effective supervision of all corrective and remedial action for addressing issues by all concerned.


An earnest study of the books ‘Victory India - 1 & 2’; would amply reveal why the following detailed responsibilities to various office bearers and institutions have been allocated and recommended. This is basically due to their specific charter of duties, role and their suitability for fulfilling the allocated tasks/duties. It is imperative that all office bearers, in addition to being fully apprised of their responsibility as per the action plan, also need to grasp and comprehend the full picture of the comprehensive action plan.

It is of paramount importance that all concerned should adequately study and grasp their relevant portion of the information and revealed knowledge, elaborately explained in the books and also take pains to study/peruse both books. This would greatly help/facilitate them to fulfill their part of the task effectively as they would be in full picture/awareness of their specific responsibility/role and its impact on the entire action plan in resolving the issues.

Certain relevant and pertinent questions are being posed to the office bearers with regard to the historical background of the present state of affairs and the apt reasons for the same. The assigned or recommended tasks/duties towards resolving the issues are not obligations but befitting and onerous responsibilities that must be performed by all concerned collectively for meeting the grave ‘quality military leadership crises’ presently confronting the Indian Armed Forces.


The Indian Armed Forces, which the British nurtured over the last 200 years, has its inbuilt strengths. The officer cadre (formerly British, now Indian) is an important component of this strength. Has this strength been diluted over the last 67 years? Is the process of selection and training providing the right kind of officer material to sustain the strengths of this institution?

Has the quality of its officer leadership kept pace with the times, particularly due the multifarious environmental and geopolitical changes that have taken place during the last 6 decades?

Is the present crop of military officer leadership befittingly fulfilling their assigned duties to the satisfaction of their soldiers, sailors and airmen, particularly in view of their enhanced educational, financial and social status and consequent expectations and demands?

Has the National Defence Academy (set up at Khadakwasla, Pune, 6 decades back, in 1954, through the dedicated and sustained efforts of a visionary Prime Minister, Defence Minister, the three Services and wholehearted contributions of all States of the country), been able to keep pace with the ‘quantitative’ and ‘qualitative’ demands for producing young, budding and potential military officers as per the requirements of their finishing academies and their three Services?

Should the armed forces continue with the present functional and structural arrangement of officers and men in the various military units (a British legacy)especially in context with the present quality/lot of officers being drawn mainly from the middle and lower middle class of our society? In which case would it be proper to ascertain and validate whether the specified/expected traits of an officer, leader, gentleman and warrior (being infused/inculcated into young trainees) is now diluted from the previously high benchmarks, set by the British rulers for a Native Indian Army?

Should the training at the NDA be a ‘leading light’ for schools and colleges across the country? Should the teachers/lecturers of exceptional merit be attracted to NDA through a rigorous selection process, through higher standards and personality traits matched with commensurate pay, perks and privileges? In which case should the civilian faculty of the NDA also be selected entirely based on merit; sans any form of reservation, as is the case generally in the armed forces?

The profile of the Indian military officer has gradually dropped in protocol over the last 60 years. Is this impinging upon the security and integrity of the nation? Will better selection and training produce officers of better merit and overall competence to compel the restoration of a dignified status for the officer cadre?

Considering the fact that the future wars will be three or four dimensional, (including land, sea, air and space), the need for a better coordinated and effective integration of the three services should now dictate the initiation of an effective and meaningful integration process during the basic training phase itself at NDA. Since Commerce and the Digital World (especially internet) are increasingly becoming a part of the security concerns of the nation, how should inputs regarding these; be integrated into the training of the cadets? Are these issues of joint-man-ship being effectively addressed?

Value education is vital for the cadets of the academy and the students of the nation in general. How are the cadets of the National Defence Academy to be sensitized to this vital aspect of training without adversely affecting the nation’s secular credentials?

All the above points must be viewed in context of the mandate of the first Prime Minister of India, who then set exceptionally high benchmarks for the NDA and metaphorically termed it as one of the ‘temples of modern India’. Has that temple (called NDA) maintained its envisioned sacred credentials and environmental sanctity since the last 60 years of its existence? Or, has it become like the sacred Ganges River, which is now badly polluted in its content and environment and thus failing to maintain its old poignant bench marks to produce ‘high quality’ officer material for the finishing academies and the three Services?


Must ensure autonomy for the Armed Forces that it may pursue matters of ‘selection and training’ unhindered by UGC standards; Military leadership has its special needs and in the interests of national security, should leave no stone unturned to ensure the highest standards.

Is the Finance Ministry adequately supporting the MOD on matters related to the special needs of Military Training?

Ensure that the NDA be allowed to give extra special allowances for faculty members in order to attract exceptional civilian talent to teach at the NDA.

Ensure that the NDA acts as an example for the kind of value and leadership training that is considered best for Indians in general; to which other teachers of schools and colleges look up to the NDA due to its elite status.

Ensure the creation of the Indian National Defence University (INDU) and facilitate teaching and research work to enable /facilitate education of the soldier at various levels from Graduation to PhD). Encourage writing of research papers in the armed forces on military related subjects, specializations and leadership in coordination with high quality research institutions, defence training institutes and users. NDA must be affiliated to this university besides other senior/higher military institutions.

Ensure that the DRDO (through DIPR) take up more intense, meaningful and result oriented research related to ‘selection and training’ fields. It must do this in partnership and coordination with stake holders like the selection boards, training academies and end users of the three services; and establish an effective feed-back mechanism with them.

A sporting culture, as a foundation of a healthy nation, has found little patronage. This is deeply being reflected in the armed forces in detriment to its wellbeing. The Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs in tandem with the MOD and the Ministry of Human Resources Development must work towards developing a ‘culture of sports and health’ in India. Along with generating awareness of the social, mental and spiritual benefits of a great sporting culture, all kinds of sports need to be pursued with almost religious vigor.

There is an acute shortage of sports/fitness medicine specialists in India and the Armed Forces. Hence, efforts must be made by the MOD in partnership with the HRD ministry and Ministry of Youth Affairs, to expand the availability of such specialists exponentially with a combined mission to have such specialists posted at various sports-related institutions in the country (projected as a method to improve health standards in the country in a substantial way). Towards this end the AFMC & SMC must put forth a proposal to the relevant ministries to set up a world-class facility at Pune that will meet the requirements of a developing and aspiring nation like India.


Streamline the processes connected with the selection of cadets by participating in regular feed-back sessions with the concerned military authorities. Adequately review, revise and refine the content of the written examination system and existing norms to meet the specific educational standards set and demanded by the Armed Forces for their potential officer candidates. The present highly competitive national examinations like CAT have effective computerized systems to support them. GMAT tests are conducted remotely on the net; these technologies must be explored and developed in order to provide better solutions for screening tests.

Make special provisions for providing higher quality teaching staff to the military academies especially the NDA which has greatly suffered on this account. This must be commensurate with the NDA’s original design of being ‘One of the Temples of Modern India’. That status was recognized with a purpose and the purpose must not be diluted.

Ensure a more speedy process for meeting the NDA requests for their Academic faculty, as presently the process is intricate, lengthy and laborious.


The command structure in respect of the NDA in tandem with its controlling authority must be such that the autonomy of the NDA does not lead to unlimited powers to single individuals (commandants). Such powers lead to the altering of systems frequently, (with good intentions though) and cumulatively having an adverse effect on the academy. One of the following four alternatives/options is available with the COSC to put a check on this arbitrariness:

1.      The Commandant could be guided by a Board of Directors (consisting of former Commandants and former University Vice Chancellors, who could watch over the NDA, ‘advise’ the Commandant and submit their recommendations to the COSC for action).

2.      It may be ensured for effective supervision, control and monitoring that the CISC (HQ IDS) is ‘effectively’ a rank/ appointment higher than the Commandant of the NDA.

3.      Alternatively the changes which a commandant feels essential for the development of the academy may be implemented in the tenure of the next commandant. Else he may recommend changes, based on his observations during his tenure, for consideration of the Board of Directors (like USMA, USA) and implementation can happen by him or the next Commandant as deemed fit.

4.      Alternatively ensure that the NDA comes under the Indian National Defence University (INDU) and answerable to the Supreme authority of the university–the Senate.

Consider the re-organization of ‘Officer Training’ in such a way that it is addressed collectively by one institution under the HQ IDS/ARTRAC. This would mean that institutions like the NDA, IMA, OTA, AFA, NAVAC, will all get their major inputs from a centralized agency in the IDS. This will be in tandem with specialized training which the officers would receive from their respective wings according to their service and specialization. This has benefits for joint-man-ship, for developing a comprehensive view on Officer Training and for well researched inputs on Leadership.

COSC must ensure that all concerned divisions/authorities (including those that come under HRD Ministry) cooperate under the aegis of the CISC/HQ IDS) to achieve proper envisioning, planning and execution of officers’ training in general across the armed forces and with special reference to the NDA.

In the interests of developing a ‘thinking’ military leader, someone more erudite and well-read, and it may be considered that the inputs to the NDA cadet’s personality from the academic fraternity must be larger. As the civilians enjoy longer tenures at the academy they can be heavily invested in, in order to improve the inputs to the cadets. Modern warfare also demands great knowledge and its effective application, besides the other military qualities/traits of mind, body and spirit. More stress on sound academic grounding is likely to benefit the cadet in the long run. To help/facilitate developing a ‘thinking soldier - leader’ the following options can be considered:

1.      Australian (ADFA) solution of separating academic and military training into separate phases/semesters

2.      Reduce ‘military training’ content at the NDA and increase ‘academic’ content to bring it closer to normal colleges, but under INDU and without compromising on its esteemed status.

3.      Due to the need for substantial academic content, consider having a Civilian Commandant for the NDA (equivalent of Vice Chancellor/high ranking bureaucrat/IPS officer/civilian dignitary of exceptional merit—as chosen by the personal discretion of the COSC) in rotation with Commandants from the three military services. An educationist in rotation with three military trainers as Commandant can balance things out and fill up important lacunae in the system; these lacunae mainly being improved motivation of the faculty members and a training regimen that is inclined towards creating ‘scholar warriors’.

The battle of Waterloo was won on the playfields of Eton but as the present culture in armed forces has it, there is a denigration of sports and PT. Owing to this there is neglect towards Sports and PT in the areas of selection, training and military life in general. The COSC must take great initiative in changing this trend. A good beginning can be made with the AIPT. (Refer to the Appendix A for a note on how the AIPT’s role has steadily declined over the years, representing a general neglect of this dimension.)

Reversal of this trend needs a herculean effort as the culture of sports in general in India is lopsided, largely towards entertainment and professionalism, both of which are the irrelevant aspects of sports to the armed forces. The relevant aspects being the physical, team, mental and spiritual dimensions. A start can be made by expanding the activities of the AIPT and by ensuring greater levels of PT and sports training of the military leaders.


Ensure proper and effective feedback loop between selection and training; as the present set up is failing to deliver. Selection happens without awareness of whether the training institution has the ability to convert the full ‘potential’ and ‘trainability factor’ of the selected candidates to be effective and professional leaders.

Selection is thus hitting below par and/or the training is not able to convert the latent potential optimally, hence underlining the need for a similar feed-back loop between selection/training and user services… between psychological research and training…and between leadership research and training…can prove extremely beneficial.

Ensure that inputs from the faculties of physical, medical, sports medicine, psychology, leadership training, military training, etc. are effectively researched and then integrated into the NDA training system in such a way that enables these external agencies to monitor the implementation of their respective mandates on a regular basis, and ensure strict compliance.

For example refer to ‘Appendix A’ for a note on how the Sports, Recreational Training and PT dimension must be catered for using the services of specialists in these subjects/aspects- the AIPT.

Another example is the specialization of sports medicine: Specialized knowledge and expertise of this discipline has been used in a very limited manner for our officer cadets. Better use of this field/branch of medical science can have multifarious health and fitness benefits in the training of cadets with consequent short and long term benefits. There is established proof for this as is brought out in certain articles of ‘Victory India – 1 & 2’.

This training specialty/facility/expertise must complement the physical training schedule and training regimen to deliver optimum benefit. The AFMC and SMC, Pune, should play a very constructive and positive role in the physical development, mental well-being and optimum health of the cadets of all military academies, especially the NDA.

Monitor the NDA and all joint training academies closely for policy changes. Ensure that the same is vetted by specialists before/after the changes are made. (This is vital for training institutions because the commandants and all senior officers do not rise in ranks within the training units and are instead posted for short tenures).Ensure that the concept of Tri-services-integration is well defined for the ‘training stage’ level and is well executed at the NDA.


The three Services, independently, through think tanks, must develop a ‘white paper’ on the concept of the training of the ‘officer’. This white paper must take into consideration all the roles that the officer should/may play and the qualitative needs to fulfill them, (technical, and professional, individual and organizational). Revisit this document regularly to ensure that it is updated.

Use the three white papers so generated in tri-service joint meetings to generate a ‘common paper on the training of military officers’. This can ensure more effective integration of ‘psychological and leadership research’ into leadership training and lead to meeting actual Service requirements. This document can then act as a guiding document for all officer selection and training institutions—especially the tri-service ones.

Consider shifting the other (Army/Navy/Air Force specific) technical content of all Basic and Advanced training of all military personnel under a separate department under ARTRAC (and equivalents).This department will have a clear idea on what technical training must be given to both officers and men of all levels for their respective services. Therefore, while training officer cadets, the specialized service training of the cadets of a tri-service institute like the NDA can be monitored by these departments of the three services and held responsible for the same.


In view of the immediate and future requirements of the various units, the selection of officers must be done as per the user requirements of the various Arms and Services of the Army while also keeping in mind the required demands on quality of trainees/cadets made by the training academies, both for basic and finishing training. Effective coordination between the selection and training must be made to meet the ‘quantitative’ requirements of officers for the users but more importantly their ‘qualitative’ needs, depending on the nature of duties involved and the role and function of the concerned Arm or Service.

The AG,DG RTG & MP must cohesively work with the DIPR, SSB’s, DGMT and HQARTRAC & IDS and training academies to optimally meet the ‘qualitative’ expectations and officer manpower requirements of the user Arms and Services.

The Navy and Air Force too should befittingly work accordingly through their respective key personnel in their Service HQ and training academies to fulfill the specific/peculiar requirements of the user units, bases, ships and establishments as per their demands and authorizations.

Since impact of training is long term there is a tendency to overlook the need for Quality Officers being posted at the academies. While a posting at NDA is considered prestigious for the Army, the case is not the same for the Air Force and Navy which are technical arms; those posted to NDA can suffer loss of professional hours at their respective services. This needs to be compensated in other ways so that the best will aspire to be posted to the training institutions without any loss to their professional interests and growth.

Officers posted in Divisional Officer/Platoon Commander positions must meet minimal requirements of sufficient experience and adequate training before being posted as instructors at the training institutions, preferably, after attaining sufficient maturity, professional qualification, experience, and ideally after the Army Junior Command (JC) Course/equivalent Navy/AF course.


The large influx of candidates at the SSBs is compelling them to ‘screen out’ the majority of the candidates in the screening test. This is most unfair and unjust to the rejected candidates. Ways and means must be found to correct this serious anomaly which for years has defied solution.

Rejected candidates must be given some reasons for their non-selection to bring in some transparency in the system.

The SSBs must also effectively interact with the training academies to analyze and monitor their training systems, norms and traditions with a view to ascertain if the full potential and trainability factors of their candidates are being facilitated and optimized during the training period.

Further, they must also study and analyze if their selected candidates ultimately meet the user requirements both in short and long term. Any flaws or shortcomings noticed in their observations must be followed up by necessary corrective action.

The selection system at the SSBs too needs to have the basic/mandatory component of ‘physical fitness’ introduced in its selection process to enable selected candidates fulfill higher degree of physical parameters during their selection at the SSBs. This will fulfill the 20 years old demand of all military academies and greatly help/ease their present burden of bringing up the selected candidates from a very low physical take off level to meet the requirements of the finishing academies and the Services, and reduce consequent high wastage rates and adverse implications in the entire academic and military training.


The AIPT must produce a white paper on the neglect of Sports and PT in civil life and its impact on the armed forces. It must reflect the consequences of the neglect of sports and PT (practical and theoretical) in the armed forces. Thereafter, with supportive directives from ARTRAC, it must favorably influence the higher authorities (like Training Commands, Service Chiefs, COSC and IDS) to take corrective action.

Keeping in mind the overall needs of the three services, the AIPT must generate a view on effective sports and PT training at the NDA and other training institutions, dealing with both the theoretical as well as the practical dimensions, with specific focus on each of these institutions. It must do this in partnership with medical authorities, sports medicine experts, sports psychologists and personality trainers.

Subject to favorable directions from higher authorities, AIPT must develop inbuilt abilities to monitor the training processes at various academies in PT, sports, character development and make recommendations to the concerned authorities/institutions for excellence in this dimension. Since the PTO at the NDA is under their Commandant, it is imperative that all monitoring in this regard must take place in a centralized manner, through the mother institution AIPT & APTC Depot, Pune, under the aegis of HQ IDS & ARTRAC.

AIPT must press for the re-instatement of the basic Officers PT Course (OPTC) that was gradually relegated in priority and even totally discarded down the years. Besides, it must introduce an Advance Career Course for Officers, especially those desirous for transfer into APTC. It must also demand better career prospects for the officers and men who excel at PT and Allied courses.  These courses must become more professional and competitive in nature and excelling in them a   pre- requisite for military career advancement of Young and Junior Officers.


Keeping in view the need for the exponential rise of a sporting culture in the nation and especially in the armed forces, there is a need for expanding the scope of sports medicine by a quantum leap. The sports medicine center needs to eventually expand its activities to do the following:

1.      Provide the armed forces (and possibly the nation) with a large pool of sports medicine specialists

2.      Ensure that such specialists are always present in all training institutions (for officers and for men). To that effect it must have the numbers to ensure the fulfillment of this need.

3.      Ensure that eventually all training institutions are assessed for their compliance with the standards set by the SMC on all matters related to training, medicine, rest and recovery.  Recommended corrective measures must be implemented and non-compliance/violation of any kind reported to Commandants of training institutions and their Training Commands/Service HQs.


The prime finishing academies of the three Services IMA, OTA, AFA, INA are receiving their cadets either directly (Direct Entry) or through the basic training academies, mainly the NDA. They must clearly specify their intake standards, (physical, mental, medical and educational) and ensure that all their trainees, particularly the new entrants/novices possess these.

All facilities must be provided to attain the required standards of the user of the three Services and their different Branches, Arms and Services as per their peculiar/special requirements/traits.

The required environment for optimum growth and development of the trainees must be provided for their ‘trainability’ and ‘potentiality’ factors of candidates identified by the SSB’s.

All steps must be taken to improve the shortcomings observed in the new entrants, both direct entry and those from basic training academies. Frequent,meaningful interactions must be initiated by the Finishing academies with the SSBs, Basic training academies to facilitate/help in the improvement of their intake standards.

Regular and true feedback of their cadets from the users must be obtained to correct selection and training anomalies, flaws and shortcomings in the system or the individual cadets/candidates.


Review the punishment policy:

1. Should punishments be decentralized (not Adjutant but Div Officer)?

2. Should physical punishment imply a threat of discomfort, of harm, of forcing low performance standards in other areas, a threat of adverse health leading to possible relegation…?

3. Should physical punishment levels be standardized across terms and/or across the inhomogeneous spectrum of body types even within a given batch? Is this fair? Does it achieve correction? Or is it that well-built individuals feel it is (sports) practice while the poorly built ones struggle to their detriment to even clear their punishment backlogs…Humans come with different muscle types some sail through punishments easily other muscle types will find a punishment difficult to complete…

4. Research the Human Rights and the legal angles to punishment policy. Is there any abuse or over stretch of the law?

5. For all activities carried out at the academy, ensure that there is no discrepancy between what is on paper and what is on ground. If it is on ground it must be on paper; if what is happening cannot be put down on paper it must also not be happening on ground.

The training doctrine, concept and philosophy advocated by AIPT must be followed by all Academies especially the NDA, without which the cadets ultimately are the losers. There is an immediate need to conduct the overall physical training regimen at the NDA in a scientific, progressive and sensible manner as followed in all the Army training establishments and centers and advocated by AIPT, DGMT and ARTRAC.

Does banging of feet and digging necessarily improve the qualities that are sought to be achieved through participation of military drill? If not can the policy be reviewed?

Develop proper consensus on the quality and standard of faculty members in consonance with the vision and mission of the NDA as decided at the highest level and pass on the same to UPSC for recruitment.

Develop a clear policy and vision on ‘Grooming’ of cadets in which the Civilian instructors, who spend most of their working life at the NDA, have a distinct role/say and have a significant contribution to make.

Develop a view on the level and standard of military officers that need to be posted to the academies (for training cadets) in tandem with the Adjutant General and Military Secretary branch and ensure that quality is not compromised. Set up systems to ensure it.

Ensure that the compensation for the faculty at the NDA is distinctly higher than what their peers receive elsewhere so that it attracts the best in the land to apply at the NDA. Also explore the possibility of bringing in and sending out faculty members in sabbatical positions.

Ensure that the civilian members are groomed through a formal process during induction so that they are acclimatized to military life (social) to effectively participate in the grooming of the cadets. A short stint/capsule course at the OTA (probably 2 months of training along with GCs) can prove useful.

Ensure that the faculty members and service officers posted at the NDA are producing research papers on training and leadership related topics as also other military related topics so that the ambient culture at the NDA is enriched with intellectual inputs at the highest level.


Ensure that the malaise of corruption does not creep into the NDA. Audits must be thorough.

Oversee entire administration of the NDA including all aspects that facilitate the optimum growth and positive development of the cadets both in Academics and Military Training. Health, Nutrition, Physical and Mental wellbeing must be given paramount importance, besides strict ‘supervision’ of the system of inculcating/indoctrination of military discipline as per the applicable military laws, instructions and the laws of the land. Shortcomings and flaws in the system which are detrimental to the positive grooming of cadets and against the very norms of decency, morality and ethics must immediately be removed.


Ensure that like service officers, even civilian officers of the NDA get training related to leadership through short capsule courses conducted by CDM or other training institutions.

Ensure that civilian/service officers at the NDA are encouraged to write research papers on leadership and that they are duly rewarded for it (linked to their academic/service requirements for promotion).

Propose a remote franchisee of the CDM at the NDA/INDU for better integration of academic leadership studies with practical leadership training at the NDA.


Re-set standards of ‘potentiality’ and ‘trainability’ at SSB based on the ground realities of the NDA’s ability to train cadets. For instance, study the impact of adding a basic physical test during SSB selection to facilitate a more homogenous input to the NDA; the NDA will find it easier to collectively achieve higher standards. Will such a test eliminate useful candidates or will it instead stimulate them to prepare in advance before joining NDA?

With technology and information becoming increasingly crucial in the modern global security scenario, what are the changes that need to be inducted into the profile of the candidates offered for training at the military academies?

Study the significance of the terms/activities used at the NDA from the psychological angle and enquire into their appropriateness/inappropriateness in the context: Lift, Just Like That (JLT), Don’t get caught, Sham, Toughening, Night Sessions, Water Sessions, Group Punishments, Digging/Banging in drill, Restrictions, Punishments, Showing Doubts, Selectively Paying Complements, Centralization of Punishment Authority, Separation of Punishment Authority and Reporting Authority (Adjutant Vs Divisional Officer), whether physical punishment must be used in addition to rigorous military training—if so what is sought to be achieved through punishment?


Both the present COAS and the VCOAS are aware of the shortcomings of the selection processes; lack of adequate quality candidates for selection and weaknesses in the Training Academies especially the NDA.  However, on taking over, they would have been flooded with many proposals, making it difficult for them to prioritize.  Team ‘Victory India - 1 & 2’ has done their bit to sensitize the service environment.

The new COAS and VCOAS being highly professional and competent would be able to grasp the situation fast. A befitting ‘Army level’ study should be ordered by the COAS to put up a comprehensive set of ‘Recommendations’ based on the inputs received from various authors and the environment, by this year end (31 Dec 2014). The study team must obtain the views of the Air Force and the Navy in writing as far as the NDA is concerned.

Once the recommendations are vetted by Perspective Planning Directorate, Military Training (MT) Directorate, Recruiting (Rtg) Directorate and HQ Integrated Defence Staff (IDS), these should be prepared to be presented in the Army Commanders Conference in April 2015.  ADG (MT) and ADG (Rtg) could be the nodal officers for moving the case in the Army. Approved ‘Agenda Points’ should be put up to the COSC by June/July 2015 and the final implementation points could be put up to RM/RRM by September–October 2015.

The aim should be to commence implementation of the approved proposals by 01 January 2016. Our think tanks like CLAWS/USI could also  initiate a Parallel Study/offer a Fellowship Research Program to at least two selected research scholars (preferably on Study Leave) to provide the inputs  to the Study Team/Steering Committee and the COSC.

The above ‘Road Map’ or ‘way forward’ would be adequate to initiate/kick start the whole idea. The Air Force and Navy could also follow a similar course of action in their Service for their respective specialized needs.


The system of ‘selection, training and grooming’ of military officers have now been amply, elaborately and comprehensively reviewed, analyzed and recorded in great depth by over 50 military authors and respondents. All their findings and recommendations have been amply revealed for posterity in the two books ‘Victory India - 1 & 2’. Both books are relentless, painstaking, dedicated and selfless efforts undertaken for a collective noble cause of improving the quality of our military leadership.

The compilation of both books is undoubtedly a noble and pioneering endeavor undertaken by a deeply convinced and concerned veteran military fraternity. It is now the onerous responsibility of the serving fraternity to set the ball rolling and derive optimum benefit from all that is made available on a platter in the form of these two books.

This paper is an ‘ADDENDA’ to the two books and aptly outlines the multifarious responsibilities that need to be fulfilled by all concerned executive authorities and office holders, including the Honorable PM, MOD, HRD, COSC, NSA, UPSC, DIPR, etc. to address the serious issues raised. The paper clearly shows the way to effectively resolve the issues with full responsibility and accountability of all concerned being aptly spelt out.

All the contributors of this paper and books ‘Victory India - 1 & 2’ earnestly hope and pray that all concerned executives will diligently and tirelessly work to fulfill the aspirations and high expectations of the contributory authors for achieving optimum ‘quality military leadership’ for the Armed Forces and facilitate the realization of a long cherished vision of the nation of ‘Victory India ’in all its challenges both in peace and war!


The COSC have been delegated with enough executive powers to resolve the issues brought out, not only for their respective Services but also for all the tri-service matters, especially at the NDA. The curtain raiser to the book ‘Victory India - 2, which is in fact a letter, reproduced in full, from Admiral Arun Prakash, ex CNS & Chairman COSC, and addressed to COSC, amply and elaborately highlights this point. Further, the very first article by Vice Admiral SCS Bangara, ex Commandant NDA & FOC-in-C, Southern Naval Command, comprehensively brings out the major issues and also gives their solutions, especially for the NDA.

Besides, a detailed and comprehensive approach paper on the entire subject of ‘selection and training’ to resolve all issues, including NDA, have also been submitted to the COSC over 18 months back. All the said documents are now an integral part of the book ‘Victory India - 2’ and give to the present COSC all that is needed to effectively start addressing the key issues.


“The cumulative effect of the continuation of the ills and shortcomings in the system of selection and training of military officers has led to these becoming deep rooted flaws and perennial complex issues and formidable challenges to the Armed Forces leadership. Collective, concerted and committed efforts aimed at uprooting and removing the root causes and addressing all the complex issues resolutely and relentlessly is the only way out!"


This paper is the collective and cohesive endeavor of a few committed and dedicated authors who were also the main driving force of team ‘Victory India’ which resulted in the production of the two books ‘Victory India - 1 & 2’. Almost 50 contributory authors and respondents have been a part of the campaign for ‘quality military leadership’. The majority of the authors endorse, support and ratify this paper in principle. A few meaningful and relevant ‘responses’ to the paper which add validity and depth to the paper are attached as ‘Appendix – B’.


As this paper is drafted against the backdrop of the two books –‘Victory India - 1 & 2’, it is imperative that the 86 chapters of these books and their authors should be very well known to the environment and also the topic/subject matter covered in their respective paper/article through self study, research and analysis, besides many debates and discussions with several inspired respondents. Hence, the names of all authors and their specific article/paper covered in 86 chapters of the books are given in Appendix ‘C’ as ready reference material.



The Army Institute of Physical Training (AIPT) is the mother institution of the Army for imparting physical, recreational and sports training. All PT Instructors of the Army are trained at this establishment and in turn are responsible for training all recruits and officer cadets in all the Army and tri-service training academies including NDA, IMA, OTA. The training and physical standards of the PT instructors are way above the standards of the Air Force and Navy PT Schools/Institutes.

Hence the training doctrine, concept and philosophy advocated by AIPT must be followed by all Academies especially the NDA. It is most unfortunate and a matter of utmost concern that NDA does not follow the training doctrine, philosophy and concepts of the AIPT (erstwhile ASPT) with the cadets ultimately being the losers. Hence, there is an immediate need to conduct the overall physical training regimen at the NDA in a scientific, progressive and sensible manner as followed in all the Army training establishments and training centers and advocated by AIPT, DGMT and ARTRAC.

The AIPT under the aegis of HQ ARTRAC and DGMT (MT-8) is responsible in the Army for the formulation of Physical and Recreational Training doctrine, PT policy, Concepts and Training Methodology. All PT tests for Recruits, Cadets and Trained Soldiers, as per different age groups, of all Arms and Services, are designed by AIPT, as per Army requirements with the directions and instructions of DGMT (MT-8) and HQ ARTRAC.

To achieve and ensure uniformity of training in the entire Army, all Unit PT Instructors (UPTI’s) and APTC Instructors are trained at AIPT for all Basic and Advance PT Courses and all Allied Subject Courses (Gymnastics, Yoga, Karate, Swimming, Boxing, Football, Hockey, Basketball, Volleyball, etc.) Officer Physical Training Course (OPTC) was one of the main courses run by the institute with this course (Basic) being mandatory for all officers and those with potential/aptitude also undergoing Advance PT course.

Till the 1980’s there were six (6) OPTC courses. However, due to continued low priority to this course for the past 25 years this course is long dead and even extinct. A token existence of one or two small courses (30 students each) is no existence and serves no useful purposes for a large Army like ours. The present lack of adequate professional knowledge and expertise of PT, Sports and its allied subjects including Sports/Fitness Medicine, in the Army, especially amongst the officer cadre is largely on this account.

Hence, there is an imperative need to revive this long forgotten course and train maximum officers, with a clear long term vision/perspective, by substantially increasing the number of courses. This will greatly improve the awareness level and experience of all concerned to help resolve many anomalies and shortcomings that have crept into the system, especially our military training academies and selection centers, including SSB’s, NDA, IMA, OTA, etc. Training more officers would mean training the entire Army as the officers are expected to train their men, for which they themselves must be trained!



Admiral Arun Prakash, PVSM, AVSM, VrC, VSM, ex-CNS & Commandant NDA

Thank you for sending me your paper titled: ‘Indian Armed Forces: Road-map on Selection & Training of Officer Cadets to Meet Futuristic Challenges’, which I have read with great interest.

Coming as it does on the heels of your two valuable compendiums; ‘Victory India’ volumes I and II  this paper neatly summarizes the daunting challenges that the armed forces face in the arena of officer training and suggests the way ahead.

Having watched, over the past 2-3 years, your resolute and relentless campaign in this noble cause, I take this opportunity to commend you and your co-authors for your most worthy endeavours. I sincerely hope that you succeed in your objective of bringing sharp focus on the issues raised and seeking the attention of the MoD the COSC and the Service HQs.

Given that the armed forces not only have a key role to play in national security, but also occupy a special place in the hearts and minds of our citizens, I feel that it has become a matter of national interest to restore them to their earlier position as true leaders and exemplars for Indian society.

Lt Gen Gautam Banerjee, PVSM, AVSM, YSM, ex Commandant OTA, Chennai

The sustained initiative undertaken by Col Dalvi in the matter of training of young leadership for the armed forces seems to have made some impression in the Indian defence fraternity. However, the positive outcome of the Colonel’s commendable zeal seems to be much below par; only one section among those who must be the committed stake holders in this matter seem to have joined the issue.

In fact the dismissive silence of those who are currently charged with planning and conduct of training young cadets and empowering them into competent battle leaders is disconcerting indeed. Probably crying out for induction of exotic weaponry and equipment and higher pay package is found to be a purpose more enchanting. Even then, these efforts need not be in exclusion of instituting measures, implementable mostly within in-house, to strengthen the hands and minds of those who have to carry the burden of national prestige and soldier’s life.

As former Commandant of the Officers’ Training Academy (OTA), Chennai, my inputs have been documented in the book, ‘Victory India’, so wisely authored by Col Dalvi. These inputs have the added advantage of being gained in the backdrop of far-reaching expansion and modernisation of the training curricula at that Academy.  Besides those, I wish to list out certain observations to which I subscribe to.

Having been exposed to the trials and tribulations of modern warfare, particularly the high-technology Gulf Wars which were supposedly conducted more with key boards and consoles rather than grit, sweat and blood, I am convinced that the modern Indian soldier must be as tough and hardy as his forefathers had been. I am in fact persuaded to consider these characteristics as an indigenous force-multiplier against our better groomed, highly comforted and better equipped adversaries.

With the civilian youth duly softened by the comforts of the modern era and distractions from physical engagements, the cause of physical toughness – not just fitness - becomes even more important in my reckoning, for I want our soldiers to continue to stand when his enemy has given up.

In the context of OTA, the cadets are of a higher age group, but more than that they mostly are new to outdoor excursions. At the end of the training period of 10 months therefore, the cadets just about reach the verge of solidification of their bodies and minds, but yet short of being physically and mentally robust enough to face the challenges of troop command and exacting terrain. No doubt, the indomitable cadets-turned-young officers and their commanding officers rise to make up for flawed training policies. But then, I feel that the training policy makers should offer to the troops and units, better prepared young leaders.

Induction of women into the armed forces, the world over, has been found to have led to an inadvertent dilution in the men’s standards of physical proficiency. This dilution has nothing to do with the lower standards of brute power that is naturally achievable by the women, and accepted as such. The effeminacy actually sprouts in the minds of the trainers who start being accommodative of the men who are physically below par. This tendency is therefore entirely uncalled for, and must be fought against – I had tried to do so. Truly, it is dangerous to succumb to such enticing recourse's because it weakens our soldiery at their time of reckoning when confronted with the extreme malevolence of the enemy and the battle.

Finally, the time has probably come to convert the Short Service Commission into a main body of officers, retaining, re-training and preparing the regular commissions as smaller but long term cadres. Should that be the solution to the problem of shortage of cutting edge battle leadership that has morphed into a permanent and ever irresolvable attribute of the military establishment, then there is a case to give just two more months  for the cadets to ‘consolidate’ their training curricula at the OTA.

Sense will prevail when there is no escape! Till then Col Dalvi needs all our collaboration.

Air Marshal Narayan Menon, PVSM, UYSM, AVSM, ex AOP, Air HQ IAF

A strong and capable military leadership will be integral to India's emergence as a modern developed democracy. The paper 'Selection and Training of Officer Cadets to Meet Future Challenges' is an excellent in depth analysis of how to achieve this objective which itself is a significant element of national security imperatives. The paper brings out various lacunae and drawbacks that afflict the present system and focuses with great clarity on implementable suggestions and recommendations for the many stake holders.

The paper is an invaluable supplement and complements the earlier compilations, Victory India - 1 & 2. I am confident that this path-breaking effort by Col Vinay Dalvi and his co-authors will stimulate and inspire all stakeholders towards collective, comprehensive, corrective actions that brook no further delay.

Lt Gen Mukesh Sabharwal,PVSM,AVSM’,VSM, ex Adjutant General

"Several professionals and experts have applied their minds based on their experience, and have recommended solutions to improve the selection process for officers of the armed forces, as well as training at the military academies, especially the National Defence Academy. The serving hierarchy of the Defence forces, who are thoroughbred professionals could take useful cues and further the standards of the Indian military by implementing suggestions, concurrently with the ideas already being progressed by them".

Lt Gen Harbhajan Singh, PVSM, Signal Officer-in-Chief 1988-91, ex 1st Course JSW/NDA

NDA followed by Tri Service Academies have to train cadets to become young officers in the Army, Navy and Air Force, to fight 21stCentury battles. If we use the term YOUNG OFFICERS as opposed to OFFICERS/ LEADERS in the context of examining training at NDA, our analysis will become more relevant and clear. It is important to realize that training and professional development of officers as military leaders,  primarily takes place in units, formations, military schools of instruction and is a continuous process.

A young officer of the future shall have to be very versatile, tech savvy, jack of many trades, hands on guy, self confident and self reliant as also cunning so that he can out- smart the enemy. He will have to train his own command, motivate them and lead from the front. The men he will command will be better educated and informed being exposed to modern media. A Young Officer would require education up to graduate level as also ability to exploit the use all types of weapons, electronic gadgets, computers, communication and surveillance devices.

It is my considered view that four years pre commission training is just too long. A cadet loses interest and motivation after a few terms and is likely to develop wrong habits/qualities as a result. Such long training also means more expenditure and additional infrastructure. We must find ways to reduce the training at NDA to max two years followed by one year at IMA/Air Force and Naval Academies. IMA, Naval and Air Force Academy and NDA Commandants need to sit down together and work out broad details of training to be conducted in three years, taking in to account each institution’s requirement.

It should not be the function of a military academy like NDA to spend so much time and resources on teaching basic academics. It was OK when JSW (NDA) was started in 1949 and entry level was matriculation but not in the 21st Century. We should raise the entry of cadets to NDA to one to two years in college and then impart scientific and military oriented education towards obtaining a degree in Military Science, before being commissioned.

The curriculum for degree in Military Science should be prepared by the Defence Services themselves, as hardly any university in India has any idea about modern Military Science. It is not study of ancient

Military History and Art of Warfare but dwelling on subjects like Information, Network Centric, Cyber, Nuclear, Asymmetrical, Hybrid, missile and satellite era warfare, IEDs, Intelligence including Sigint, Surveillance gadgetry, art of deception, electronics as applicable to military usage and so on. In addition study of the Chinese and Pakistan Armed Forces, geography of countries around India should also be covered. If there can be degrees in sports, music, sociology etc why not in Military Science!!

The drillas practiced by the Indian Armed Forces was designed by the British for troops to remain steady in line in the days of cavalry and bayonet charges. Those days are a century old if not more. The troops now rather infiltrate with irregular lines and use stealth to launch attacks. Indian Army has no time for ceremonial parades, as it is engaged 24X7 against terrorists and guarding the border. It is therefore considered that the time spent on drill should be reduced.

Also we should change some drill movements. Over stiffness, raising feet to hip height and banging them as also moving arms almost to shoulder height (copied from Delhi Police perhaps as seen in Republic Day Parade) should be discarded. These changes will also bring about some welcome psychological changes in the manner seniors and juniors interact with each other.

The need for physical fitness is well appreciated but what standards are to be achieved needs to be examined and redefined with an open mind. Yoga should replace some part of what has been passed on by the British, starting with British Sergeants we had when we joined JSW in Jan 1949. The Fighting Arms, in particular Infantry need higher standards of Physical Fitness than others. Additional training at some point of time can be considered for them.

I personally have been in the top most bracket in sports and physical culture but even then it is my considered view that we need to cut down time being spent and emphasis laid on PT in NDA. Future wars would require more brains than brawn!!

Training of leadership at NDA is akin to just the first few bricks in the proverbial foundation of an officer. The real training of a young officer starts when he joins a unit/ship/squadron. There after it is continuous and progressive process, till the very end. Sadly mentoring and training of young officers in units and formations seems to be missing. Shortage of officers, being busy with mundane day to day activities could be contributory factors.

Shouting, running around, punishing seem to be the norm at NDA and in military academies. A cadet after initial breaking in should on the other hand develop qualities of calmness, poise, mature thinking, art of speaking to seniors, juniors, civilians, how to be friendly but firm with the men and officers he commands and mentoring his subordinates. Such like qualities need to be inculcated in senior terms at NDA and then in IMA. Handling of and dealing with cadets should be different than recruits in Training Centers!!

NDA is one of the finest training institutions in our country. There is always room for improvement and towards that end we must critically examine the strengths and shortcomings. Col Dalvi and other veterans have done a commendable job in examining the training, command and control and infrastructural aspects of NDA. This premier Institution seems to be no body’s baby. MoD is a bureaucratic set up and has no professional and emotional involvement with the needs of NDA. Chiefs of Staff Committee is the right forum for ensuring that infrastructural deficiencies and requirement of good civilian and military staff at NDA are met expeditiously.

Lt Gen R S Sujlana, PVSM, AVSM, VSM,former Commandant IMA

Team ‘Victory India’ has indeed put in conscientious efforts in compiling a compendium of articles by a cross section of highly regarded and professional defence and civilian officers. The varied views expressed therein by these authors will definitely make discussion on the subject of Selection and Training of officer cadets more wholesome and fruitful. Based on this and their continued brain storming over the last few years Col Vinay Dalvi and his team have further put these thoughts in the write up, “Indian Armed Forces: Road Map in Selecting and Training of Officer Cadets to meet Futuristic Challenges”.

I compliment Col Vinay Dalvi and his team in doing so and I wish the endeavor all the success. There will definitely be difference of opinion on various issues highlighted, but then, it is always necessary to discuss, remove any ambiguous reasoning and ensure that we arrive at the most pragmatic solution to a given problem. Having served at the Indian Military Academy as an instructor (Capt and Major), as the Colonel General Staff and finally as the Commandant I would put across a few points for further deliberations.

Lowering Precedence of the Armed Forces - There is no relationship between the lowering of precedence of the armed forces and the intake of cadets to the academies as has been raised in the article. Moreover, we must stop harping on middle class/ lower middle class composition of intake as that is what it is and will be in the near future. I have always said and I stand by it that, “We may not be getting the best recruits from the civvy street but when they pass out, they are the BEST and have always delivered irrespective of the situation!”

Major Policy Decisions - Commandants of Training Institutions should not have the liberty to keep changing training syllabus or standards at their will and fancy. It must be mandatory to consult the next head quarter on major changes to be affected, be it the CISC in the case of NDA or ARTRAC in the case of army training academies etc. The suggestion to have a Board of Directors as an advisory body has merit, however the idea is not to have another bureaucratic hurdle but to ensure that all views are well considered and the best decision taken.

Civilian Commandant at the NDA- I do NOT endorse the suggestion of having a civilian as Commandant at the NDA even in rotation. India not only lacks a military and strategic culture but there are not many exponents in the art of military science amidst the academic fraternity. While the thought to dwell more on academic training vis-a-vis physical training has merit, but a Commandant with a background of a civilian university without any exposure to matters military is not the solution and I opine that he/she will not be able to deliver; a military hierarchy will always be better placed to ensure achieving the aims set out for NDA. The solution lies in recruiting high grade competent civilian staff, streamlining the academic syllabus to meet future requirements. Better pay, perks, and privileges will help. Training in military leadership and related aspects must be conducted for the civilian staff. Affiliation to INDU only once established with a high standing. Later in the course of their careers, officers can pursue further advanced studies on military subjects.

UPSC - There is scope to improve the pattern of entrance examination. Like in the case of the central civil services they conduct CSAT, the UPSC must think in terms of conducting a Defence Services Aptitude Test (DSAT).

Physical Training - The PT staff is competent but their involvement with the cadets has to go beyond the training period. They need to be trained in important aspects of sports medicine whereby they can assist the sports medical specialist or be effective in his absence. This will enable targeted addressing of specific weak muscles and early remedial action.

DIPR - Recommendations by DIPR at times are sans pragmatism. Their representatives who conduct surveys/analysis must be more knowledgeable about military matters. They have to spend much more time on ground, interact with officers and cadets at the academies and follow up specific cases in the environment to enable pragmatic suggestions.

Services Selection Boards - Large scale rejection of potential officer material by the SSBs is a perennial problem and will remain so as majority of the candidates just do not fit the criteria. Better talent has to be attracted. This will not happen till the Armed Forces get a better deal and their rightful standing vis-à-vis other vocations in our country. Consider the rather uncalled for statements issued by some politicians and continuous side lining of armed forces in matters related to protocol, precedence and pay. This apart, SSB reports especially of the psychologists are of value and select cases must be followed up at the academies and even later during the initial years of an officers’ career. Some physical fitness tests must be conducted especially for those joining as Direct/ Short Service entries. Isn’t it strange that for recruitment of a soldier there are physical tests but not for officers!

Having said all this, I must reiterate that training at the Academies has to basic to soldiering and no attempt should be made to include unwarranted aspects of future warfare which an officer will learn gradually in his/her service. All the criticism apart, the most encouraging point that I must highlight is that in all the feedback that I received from various quarters, I never got a report of a YO showing lack of initiative or displaying cowardice in battle/CI-CT Operation, they always and every time led up front!

Brig L C Patnaik, President 14 SSB, Selection Centre - East, Allahabad

The efforts and quality of work of the compiled paper is outstanding. There is no doubt that both aspects; that of our Training Academies and Selection Centres, now need a review for the future. The process of our selection is presently under review by a joint effort of the DIPR and all the three Services.  Necessary feedbacks on the future leadership of tomorrow considering the Cyber war, RMA and frequent limited wars have been factored-in.

A more cognitive based Stage One assessment, with large emphasis on technological understanding; emotional intelligence, pragmatism and physical fitness have been recommended. But we still need to address the low quality of candidates for Non-UPSC entries and a few graduate entries.

Fortunately, the NDA entry remains to be popular and has maintained its quality over a period of time. The women entry has turned out to be one of the best. However, at the Academies training needs a progressive and scientific approach. In my last visit to the NDA to conduct a ‘Follow-up exercise’, a few months back, I observed that tremendous initiative and efforts have been taken to develop the overall training methodology.

However, the approach to assess the initial standards of the cadets and planning of a scientific training, based on a SWOT analysis is lacking. Hence, concerted efforts need to be undertaken towards this aspect by the Battalion & Squadron commanders and the Divisional officers to interpret the nuances and manifestations of the OLQs (Officer Like Qualities) and the pen pictures prepared at the SSBs.

Although former Assessors of SSBs and Psychologists have been posted at the NDA/IMA/OTA, their utilization is far from satisfactory. Over emphasis on physical capabilities and sports should not be the basis of assessing OLQs at the Academies. Physical training continues to be duplicated with dual responsibilities of the PTOs and Directing Staff.

Approach to punishments is still primitive, instinctive and non-correctional. Emphasis on Academics, though have been enhanced; the overall Academic standards and the quality of the Faculty needs urgent attention. A greater co-ordination between the ‘Selectors’ and the ‘Trainers’ to prepare the SWOT profile of each cadet may go a long way to make a healthy beginning in preparing better leaders for the future.

‘Supportive’ Response

Col Pradeep B Dalvi, ex-Instructor, Army War College, DIPR ‘Q’/SSB GTO & IO

Comments by Brig L C Patnaik, President No. 14 S S B, are excellent. He can positively influence the future course of action as a serving officer who is actually dealing with the subject. Some of my suggestions are:

  • Future leadership in the Armed Forces should be laid out at the highest level (COSC/IDS) keeping in view the likely technological inputs/intense environment that we are likely to face in the neighborhood. This will give our planners the opportunity to select the type of talent that we require to face future modern, intense battle field scenarios.
  • Problem of 'Low Quality Non UPSC/Graduate entries' can be surmounted by taking following actions:
  • Doing away with UPSC and having own AFCEE (Armed Forces Common Entrance Examination) in line with CAT.
  • Creating organizations for talent hunt at Command level and equivalent.
  • Separate screening to be carried out to avoid over load on SSB’s.
  • SWOT Analysis: Idea of SWOT analysis for 1st term cadets is a good concept. However it should also be carried out for all DS's/Squadron DS/Bn cdrs/Trg teams at the end of each term to identify their KRAs/Goals for the next term based on SWOT analysis and identify suitable projects in support of the KRAs. This will provide suitable direction in training of cadets and constant up gradation.
  •  Study by CLAWS/USI: Most of the members of Claws/USI are from serving/veteran community and hence are likely to provide inputs based on research and their own experience. These inputs will certainly be valuable, however, it is my recommendation that we should also take an outsider view and employ Earnest & Young/PWC/Gallop etc., to carry out detailed analysis of our system/processes from UPSC to Selection, Training and Grooming till final commissioning.

Gp Capt Johnson Chacko, ex Bn Cdr NDA, Dy Comdt AFA, DS at DSSC & CDM

The aim of NDA is to train leaders for the Armed Forces covering the following aspects:

1. Morals and Ethics

2. Leadership

3. Effective Communication

4. Academics

5. Physical Training including Drill

6. Discipline

Being NDA trained and an ex Battalion Commander of NDA, I offer the following comments:

Leadership is the art of using the members of the group to emerge victorious in any situation that the group finds itself in. For this the leader needs sufficient Effective Intelligence to ascertain the situation the group is in, know the strengths of each member of his group and what opportunities emerge to employ them effectively to emerge victorious - for there is no runners up in a military situation.

What does he need to be equipped with is the next question. In my opinion, he should have strong Morals and high standards of Ethics as he is expected to deal with his men in a just manner, be sound in Academics to effectively ascertain the situation his group is in, be Physically strong to exhibit military traits to his group by example and he should also have good Communication Skills.

What gets things done in any field is the Attitude of the person. Attitude flows from Values that he has and Values are defined by the Culture of the individual. In NDA when a Divisional Officer tells a cadet that this is not how we do it in the Military he is indirectly inculcating a Culture different from what the cadet has seen before. Value systems are ingrained on continuous observation and correction by the Squadron Commanders and Divisional Officers.

The result is a high sense of what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong’ and a high degree of self confidence in the cadet besides being self disciplined. The end product at the stage of NDA should have the desired character traits. What are these character traits that are needed? Probably the CDM (Faculty of Behavioural Sciences) can shed some light on what is required in the three Services. They could also have metrics to measure these and suggest methodology to train it, if it is trainable. They may also suggest what the SSBs should look for.

Leadership training involves nomination of the leaders and the group that he is supposed to lead. A good leader should not have a situation where the members do not follow his directions as their own decisions, but while he is being trained there will be such situations. To correct this he should have the authority to punish members of the group at his level. The recommendation in the paper that the Military Law, Army Act Navy Act or Air Force Act should apply to the Cadet is far-fetched  and so is the aspect of Human Rights.

These punishments are generally in the control of the Divisional Officer/Squadron Commander and they are the best to define the limits. If this is indeed to be stopped then the only way is to segregate the Cadets term wise and then no leadership training can be effective.

Just like the statement of "battles being won on the playing fields of Eton", leadership at NDA is essentially trained on the playing fields of the Academy. Cadets are grouped as Squadrons with their leaders and compete for various Championships. If training aspects such as Physical Training and Academics get included in these Championships then the training responsibility only shifts from the Ustaads, Instructors and Lecturers to the Senior Cadets.

Since this Approach paper is suggesting a holistic review, the above aspect too needs to be included. I find that the current generations are too rule bound and hence initiative has been killed. If one has to be constantly worried about breaking international law or violating human rights, he is being restricted from seizing the initiative to emerge victorious.

Finally, how are the recommendations of the Approach paper to be implemented? They should appeal to the General/Flag/Air Officers to have a comprehensive study to cover all aspects from ‘Cradle to Grave’. From this holistic study, parts relevant to SSBs, NDA, NAVAC, CTEs, etc., can be implemented. It has to be a Tri-Service effort and the CDM (Faculty of Behavioural Sciences) the best institution to carry it out.

Character being the most important aspect and many leadership traits are embedded in it, the CDM can define what they are looking for in feeder institutes like sainik schools, what needs to be tested at SSBs, what needs to be trained at NDA and similar Academies/Institutions, what needs to be reinforced at Finishing Academies and what needs to be followed up in the Armed Forces till retirement.

Col Pradeep B Dalvi

1.      Let me at the outset compliment the team Victory India 1 & 2 for the manner in which most critical issue of ‘Selection and Training’ of Officer Intake has been penned down in very lucid and concise manner. The subject is extremely vast and never ending starting from selection to retirement, in career spanning more than 35 years in an Average Officer. The team victory India has virtually provided problems, voids and recommendation of selection and training on the platter for the serving community to implement.

2.      I am aware that due to shortage of officers at Battalion and Staff level, all important facets of ‘selection and training’ is given back seat. In the long run this issue can be overcome by improving our intake for officers in the Armed Forces Finishing Academies including NDA. Today career in the Armed Forces have taken back seat compared to corporate world. We need to improve our professional standing by putting suitable measures of visibility starting from school level and from the hinterland of the country.

Second most important aspect of transparency must be brought out in all our selection and training processes. Talent hunt for suitable officer candidate is as important as  selection, even the British  hunted for talent pool from the martial races  and created  culture of convents, public and military schools to supply them  uninterrupted flow of officers in the Armed forces. Why are we not doing the same? Is there an organizational void in our structure and thinking?

3.      The paper has dwelled upon various hierarchal   issues eloquently and expects top down approach starting from COSC. Issues that need clarification and direction are:

a)      Laying down criteria for future officer leadership in the Armed Forces through white paper.

b)     Independence from UPSC and to make separate entrance examination which is very competitive.

c)      Use of modern and innovative tools in selection system. (Modernize SSBs and DIPR in lines with process followed by other modern armies including our foes)

d)     Carry out research and analysis of our system and processes for selection and training through independent body who will be responsible (HQ IDS) and auditable.

e)     Establishment of INDU and creation of separate wing for officer Intake with research and analysis capabilities.

Lastly, let me appreciate the efforts taken by veterans in compiling Victory India 1 and 2 and providing the serving community a burning issue with recommendations on the platter. This is the first of its kind efforts and I am sure the senior hierarchy will support all our endeavors.

Col C M Chavan, ex- Army Air Defence/Corporate Sector

In the absence of meaningful audits, the Approach paper brings out the crucial points with solutions, which have been discussed at great length by almost fifty veteran Defence Officers in the acclaimed publication of Victory India – 1 & 2. These points relate to short comings right from the process of selection to commissioning. The paper goes beyond these boundaries and talks about steps to be taken in the field of physical, recreational training and sports, so that the candidate coming for selection is physically fit.

NDA being the prime institution; certain anomalies which have been enumerated in details in the two publications mentioned above, need to be attended to earliest. Towards this end the approach paper gives various solutions for implementation which only need to be vetted.

On our borders China and Pakistan will always remain a big worry as political solution in the near future is a remote possibility. The required infrastructure on the China border is far from wanting .Internal situation in J&K and other parts of Naxal infested states will always remain a big drain on the Defence forces. Under such odds we need to improve our leadership who will continue to lead our men from the front.

This paper as an ‘Addenda’ to Victory India I & II is very comprehensive and does not leave any aspect uncovered. It is now left to the various authorities concerned to take appropriate and speedy intervention to take corrective measures before it is too late. It is indeed a master piece and it could not have been written better.



As this paper is drafted against the backdrop of the two books –‘Victory India - 1 & 2’, it is imperative that the 86 chapters of these books and their authors should be very well known to the environment and also the topic/subject matter covered in their respective paper/article through self study, research and analysis, besides many debates and discussions with several inspired respondents. Hence, the names of all authors and their specific article/paper covered in 86 chapters of the books are given in Appendix ‘C’ as ready reference material.



This book is dedicated to the cause of ‘quality military leadership’ for the Indian armed forces. The ‘quality’ of the Indian soldier, sailor and airman has greatly improved with the times and hence rightly deserves exemplary and befitting officer leadership. Correctly identifying and understanding the existing drawbacks and shortcomings in the selection, training and grooming processes for young military officers and trainees is the need of the hour. The book is dedicated to the cause of meeting and overcoming this formidable challenge to give our soldiers the ‘quality leadership’ they deserve! Quality Military Leadership: A Key to ‘VICTORY INDIA’




Editor’s Prefatory Note

‘Curtain Raiser - The Letter to COSC’ - Admiral Arun Prakash

Foreword - Maj Gen V K Madhok




Review of NDA—Redefining and Refining the Academy

1. The National Defence Academy—Quo Vadis? - Vice Admiral S C S Bangara

2. The National Defence Academy: Aligning with the Future - Maj Gen (Dr) G D Bakshi

3. NDA—A Crumbling Military Leadership Institution - Col R S Khandpur

4. The National Defence Academy: Still Relevant? - Prof Jayant Dasgupta

5. Non-Scientific Physical Training Regimen at the NDA - Col Vinay B Dalvi

6.  10 Suggested Concrete Measures for Selection and Training—Physical, Medical & Recreational - Col Vinay B Dalvi

7. Suggestions for Selection and Training at the NDA - Brig Balraj Kapur

8. A Fundamental Shift That a Review of the NDA Must Cater For - Nixon Fernando

9. NDA—An Institution That has Failed to Keep Up With the Times - Col Vinay B Dalvi

10. The National Defence Academy Cadet - Air Marshal T S Randhawa

11. 10 Critical Factors Hindering the Optimum Growth and True Potential of NDA Cadets - Dr Meheranjali Bade

12. Ragging, Bullying and Manhandling Amongst NDA Cadets as Part of Unofficial/Non-Structured Training and Grooming - Col Vinay B Dalvi

13. An Open Letter to the NDA Cadet - Nixon Fernando

14. Surplus Cadets at the NDA—The Official View - Lt Gen Mukesh Sabharwal

15. Recommendations for Approach on a Review of the NDA - Air Marshal T S Randhawa

16. Relevant Thoughts - Lt Gen Harbhajan Singh

17. Cross Country, Navigational Exercises and Camp Run Backs at NDA - Col Vinay B Dalvi

18. Analysis and Medical View of Physical Training Regimen of NDA Cadets - Air Marshal B Keshav Rao


‘Military Leadership’ Definitions, Selection and Training Norms

19. Integrated Approach to Officer Selection - Brig L C Patnaik

20.   Indian Army’s Leadership Challenge of the 21st Century - Col Vinay B Dalvi

21. Improving the Quantification at the SSBs and Training Standards at the NDA, IMA and OTA - Lt Col S V Naik

22. Officer Cadet Selection and Training Need Urgent Review - Anil Bhat, Defence writer & analyst

23. Relevant Thoughts on SSB Selection and Military Training - Col Anand Limaye

24. Adequacy of Officer Intake in the Indian Army—A Reality Check - Lt Gen Mukesh Sabharwal

25. Officers Selection System in the Armed Forces: Proposed Changes to Meet Present Requirements - Col R S Khandpur

26. Selection Standards and Miscellaneous Issues—The Official View - Lt Gen Mukesh Sabharwal


Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) and Leadership Models Military, Other Armies and Corporate

27. Keeping Pace with the RMA: Reforms at the NDA - Maj Gen (Dr) G D Bakshi

28. A Suggested Approach to Training and Development of Cadets of the National Defence Academy in Present Day Environment - Col. R.S Khandpur

29. Selection and Grooming of Military Leadership in the Face of New Challenges - Col Rajinder Kushwaha

30. Victory India—A Dream ‘State’ - Col Vinay B Dalvi

31. Corporate Leadership and Human Resource Management and its Learning for the Military - Col Pradeep B Dalvi


Sports/Fitness Medicine and Mind Control

32. The Advent of Sports Medicine in Military Training - Col Vinay B Dalvi

33. Victory over the Mind and the Inner World - Col Vinay B Dalvi


Approach Paper – Military Officers Selection andTraining with Responses

34.   A ‘Detailed’ Proposal for Study of ‘Selection’ and ‘Training’ Systems of the Officer Cadre of the Indian Armed Forces

35. Veterans Demand Task Force to Review Training at NDA and other Establishments - Pranav Kulkarni


Highlights and Relevant Facts

36. Highlights of Articles, Responses and Recommendations - Col Vinay B Dalvi

37. 20 Relevant Facts and Solutions to Effectively Address Selection and Training Drawbacks - Col Vinay B Dalvi


A Campaign, A Crusade, A Commitment,

An Inspiration...

A campaign for inducting quality candidates as potential officer leaders in the Indian Armed Forces

A crusade for a holistic review of the selection system catering to the elite officer cadre

A commitment to objectively introspect on improving the training at our military academies

An Inspiration to enlightened students of leadership in other spheres of life for similar initiatives

An Informatory for candidates, guardians, selectors and mentors on military selection and training


This book is dedicated to all candidates aspiring for the UPSC examinations, and the successful ones appearing for SSB tests. This book is also dedicated to the trainees of pre-commission academies of all three services - IMA, NDA, OTA, AFA and NAVAC. May the best of the aspiring candidates be selected through a holistically reviewed and revised selection system, and may they be put through a thoroughly renewed and refined academic and service training schedule that they may emerge as the finest officers for our armed forces, bringing credit and glory to their respective service and pride to their selection and training institutions.






Cover Theme

Indian Military Academy (IMA) History



The Primer and Booster

1.      Grim Portents: A Review

2.      Unleashing the UPSC: A Review

3.      Response to Articles

4.      Feedback to the Article ‘Grim Portents’ - Nixon Fernando

5. Relevance of Psychological Testing - Brig Rajbir Singh

6. Selection System for Officers of Armed Forces: Concept of an ‘Average Officer’ Revisited - Brig Rajbir Singh

7.      Screening Test—View and Counterview


Selection and Training Technicalities

8.      The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC)

9.      Defence Institute of Psychological Research (DIPR)

10.   Services Selection Board (SSB)

11.   The Motivational Dilemma for the Instructors in the Armed Forces - Nixon Fernando

12.   National Defence Academy (NDA)

13.   The Current Profile of Motivation in the Indian Armed Forces - Nixon Fernando

14.   Officers Training Academy (OTA)

15.   Air Force Academy (AFA)

16.   Indian Naval Academy (NAVAC)

17.   Indian Military Academy (IMA)


NDA—Amidst Budding Crisis

18.   NDA at Cross Roads—Realist Dilemma - Vice Admiral S C S Bangara (Retd)

19.   A Crisis in the Cradle - Admiral Arun Prakash (Retd)

20.   Finding Good Men to Lead - Lt Gen Gautam Banerjee (Retd)

21.   Revisited: Training at the National Defence Academy - Air Marshal T S Randhawa (Retd)

22.   The Destruction of the National Defence Academy - Maj Gen (Dr) G D Bakshi (Retd)


NDA—Transformation Call

23.  Making of an Officer - Lt Gen Arun Chopra (Retd)

24.   Selection Process for Entry and Training at the NDA: Some Suggestions - Maj Gen I A Satur (Retd)

25.   Ab-initio Training at NDA - Gp Capt Johnson Chacko (Retd)

26.   NDA: Time for Review - Ex Director Training, NDA

27.   NDA: A Historic Opportunity - Nixon Fernando

28.   Academic Environment in NDA: Need for a Change in Thrust - Dr M K Nagpal

29.   Six Steps to a Head Start in the Leadership Race - Col Vinay B Dalvi (Retd)


Selection and Training Process

30.   Officer Cadets Selection and Training Techniques - Col Anil Bhat (Retd)

31.   Training for the Transformational ‘Call’ - Lt Gen Gautam Banerjee (Retd)

32.   Objectives and Institutions - Dr Naren Naik

33.   Validation of SSB Selection Technique - Dr Bhaskar R Shejwal


Scientific Training, Injury Prevention and Sports Medicine

34.   Training for Defence Personnel - Dr Rajiv Sharangpani

35.   Musculoskeletal Injuries in Military Training - Dr Dhananjay More

36.   Kinesiology - Dr Dhananjay More


Military Leadership Models

37.   Military Leadership Traits: British Selection Model vis-à-vis Indian Model - Col Vinay B Dalvi (Retd)

38.   Military Leadership Defined Through Qualities and Traits - Col Vinay B Dalvi (Retd)

39.   Drawbacks in our SSB Selection and Lessons Learnt - Col Vinay B Dalvi (Retd)



40.   Human Levels of Consciousness—the 17 Awareness States - Col Vinay B Dalvi (Retd)

41.   A Deeper Understanding of Motivation - Nixon Fernando

42.   The Highest in the Land of the Bharatas - Nixon Fernando

43.   Seven Key Competencies for Successful Leadership in Today’s Environment - ColVinay B Dalvi (Retd)

44.   Need for Role Models: Varied Perception


Current National Scenario

45.   The Indian National Leadership Crisis - Col Vinay B Dalvi (Retd)

46.   A Culture of Leadership - Lt Gen Gautam Banerjee

47.   Consensus Reached: Time Now for Action - Col Vinay B Dalvi (Retd)

48.   Epilogue

49. Excerpts from the Articles - Col Vinay B Dalvi (Retd)


The following military officers, writers and analysts wrote ‘Book Reviews’  for ‘Victory India - 1’ which were published and  part of ‘Victory India - 2’ in booklet form :

Lt Gen GK Duggal, PVSM,AVSM,Vrc

Brig Pramathesh Raina

Lt Col Anil Bhat –Asian Age, Delhi

Ms Sonia Safri

Shri Jyaneswar Laishram

Shri Pranav Kulkarni – Indian Express, Pune

Shri Shashwat Guptaray –Sakaal Times,Pune


Testimonials and positive responses were also received from the following military officers for ‘Victory India - 1’ which has been recommended for all Armed Forces libraries.

Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi, PVSM, AVSM, VSM

Lt Gen Gambhir Negi

Air Marshal Narayan Menon, PVSM, UYSM, AVSM

Lt Gen Anil Chait, PVSM, AVSM, VSM

Lt Gen Sanjeev Madhok,AVSM,VSM

Lt Gen S A Hasnain, PVSM, UYSM, AVSM, SM, VSM


🎉 You've successfully subscribed to Mission Victory India!