I like to compare the old with the new. How it was then and how it is now.
For example the first Passing Out Parade (POP) at NDA was reviewed by Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru.
This was 55 years ago. As you can see all the three chiefs (Army, Navy & Air Force) were present at the POP. And that was the basic idea of starting the NDA, to train all the three services together.
West Point, the US Military Academy on which NDA is modeled, has a poignant unofficial motto: “Much of the history we teach was made by soldiers we taught.” The same holds true for the NDA too.
To cite a few examples, one is Lt Arun Khetarpal.
It seems one evening he surprised all present by suddenly announcing that, in the coming war, he would die and would be rewarded for gallantry. Something in his demeanour made everyone believe his premonition.
Deployed across the Basantar River on 16 December 1971 his last radio message was “No Sir, I will not abandon my tank. My gun is still working and I will get them”
He did, dying as he knocked off his fourth Patton tank. He was awarded the Param Vir Chakra posthumously.
From left: Capt Salaria, Lt Arun Khetarpal, Capt Manoj Pandey.
38 years later Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, an ex NDA, did the same by his heroic death during the 26/11 terror strike at Mumbai.
“Do not come up, I will handle them.” These were probably the last words which Major Sandeep told his men as he was hit by bullets while engaging terrorists inside the Taj Hotel, Mumbai during the Black Tornado operation.
Had been to the NDA (National Defence Academy) recently and was impressed by the way they have maintained the standard and the surroundings even after half a century.
The dining hall is one such place. Apart from the wood work, and the grandeur, the quality of the food is something worth mentioning. Had poached eggs after a long time and washed down with cold coffee (forefront above)
I am sure the cooks must be having a tough time, but then it’s a daily routine for them.
The regimental flags adorning the entrance to the dinning hall.
That’s a view of the Sudan Block.
And this one is from the Sudan Block
Incidentally the Sudan block was built by the donation given by the African republic which gifted a hundred thousand pounds in 1941 for the construction of a suitable war memorial, in grateful recognition and commemoration of the gallantry and sacrifices of Indian troops in the defence of Sudan in WWII (inaugural photo below)
You can get more information at the official website
It was not surprising to see monkeys, deer and peacocks roaming around with no fear.
The cadet’s gym may look a little out dated but just have a look at the things they had to do at the Gym on a daily basis.
Coming back to the dining hall, at the entrance of the hall there is a table set for one, with the chair tilted forward. I found this interesting and had a closer look. This table is set for the Prisoners of War who are forgotten, but holding on to the hope that they will return one day.
There was a placard placed on the table with the following written on it:
The table set is small, for one, symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner against his oppressors.
The single rose displayed in a vase reminds us of the families and loved ones of our comrades-in-arms who keep their faith awaiting their return.
The Red Ribbon tied so prominently on the vase is reminiscent of the red ribbon worn upon the lapel and breasts of thousands who bear witness to their unyielding determination to demand a proper accounting of our missing.
The candle is unlit, symbolizing the upward reach of their unconquerable spirit.
The slice of Lemon is on the bread plate, to remind us of the bitter fate.
There is salt upon the bread plate - symbolic of the families’ tears as they wait.
The Glass is inverted, they cannot toast with us this night.
The chair – it is empty. They are not here.
Remember ! All of you who served with them and called them comrades, who depended upon their might and aid, and relied upon them, for surely, they have not forsaken you.
Remember until the day they come home.