Friday, June 11, 2010

The NDA in Pune

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.


Harman said...

very well!!!...itis absolutely see NDA ..pune after along...
how can we forget ..khetrapal other officers and Maj Unnikrishnan...those who laid their lives... God bless..
A perfect tribute to our soldiers...for keeping up the flag!!

Jeannette said...

First, at a universal level, this is very powerful and respectful of those who have served to protect. Thank you. Secondly, it is very accessible to someone who knows ever so little of your country's history. And then it is once again an example of a straightforward and clear narrative style. Good work.

Virtual Poona Blogger said...

Thanks for a very informative and well-written piece. For me, it was a great piece of Nostalgia since I had occasionally been part of the entourage with the Live band entertainment that played for the Officers' Gala. The food was world-class as was the presentation, ambience, and decor.....fitting for an officer serving under a Raja or Nawab, but never too opulent. Your photos are so great and on the spot as usual that I will have to share this soon.....somewhere.

Bravo once again !

BK Chowla, said...

Great writing. I missed the NDA discipline as I could not get through

Shalini said...

Its a beautiful place and the writing on placard is amazing!!

Anjuli said...

I absolutely love each and every new post you write- I learn something new in each one. The stories of the soldiers who gave their life - each in a different time period- but with the same gallant spirit...moved me!

Thank you for such a beautiful piece of writing- and as always the lovely pics.

Deepa Krishnan said...

I am foolishly waiting for the day we don't need any soldiers. Doesn't look like that day is coming any time soon.

Lazy Pineapple said...

wow..fantastic post...what a unique subject to write on..
The description of the table for prisoners of war is wonderful..
Thank you for sharing your experience at NDA.

Aparna said...

The table set for the POW is heart wrenching. Though I have not been to the NDA, had seen a short film on that which also had clippings of the dining hall and the cadets eating. It was amazing.
Really loved this unique post.

Anonymous said...

Great post! A standing ovation to them! Truly deserve it.

Neena Sharma said...

Great post. Thanks for sharing. NDA deserves our salute!

Nandu Chitnis said...

beautifully written...super pics. thanks.

Cadet NJ Chitnis
Academy # 7661
38th Course

marie said...

Well written.

Vinita said...

oh so lovely...the writings, the pictures that speak so much of the rigorous and committed lives that these cadets lead, just so that they are ever equipped to protect our nation from any kind of terror or strife. a beautiful tribute, joe!

Cinderella said...

The concluding lines tug at my heart and makes me feel hollow inside. I will remember.

Thanks for dropping by.

magiceye said...

thank you for the lovely inside tour!

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hello Greetings:)

It was really very interesting to read all this wonderful information about the NDA. The photos add life to your lovely writing and gave an opportunity to see inside the building.

Our officers and soldiers are doing a magnificent job. We are eternally grateful to them for the sacrifices they make to make our lives comfortable and easy.

Best wishes:)

Bardot said...

Very interesting article Joe. Thanks for sharing the pics.

Bikramjit Singh Mann said...

WOWO you know i always wanted to join the army DID all I could to get in .. cleared the written exams so many times but ALAS it was not to be :)

but yeah NDA is a huge institute.. a respectable one.. dont know if its doing the same as old times though .. things have changed .. the new officers are not as they used to make them in those days ...

a good article :)

Theresa said...

Considering the many comments for this post, I’d like to add a backgrounder…my brother Joe made a brief visit to NDA when my husband and I were there recently. The occasion was a course reunion wherein batch mates got together with their families over a weekend. Officers – mostly retired, but some still serving, took time off to travel from all parts of the country to meet their batch mates. Some had been able to keep in touch while others were meeting after 30 odd years. As they revived memories, the men were transformed from 50 somethings to 17 years-olds. Wives and children listened to the men traversing memory lane, frequent bouts of laughter arising as the guys spoke about their crazy exploits in the academy. As more stories unravelled and tours of the academy unfolded, I could see youngsters looking at their fathers with fresh eyes and new pride while wives bestowed indulgent looks on their spouses. To say that the weekend was magical is an understatement. The National Defence Academy may be well known for its discipline and toughness; less known is the fact that it instills a camaraderie and unity that lasts throughout the lives of those who pass under its portals.

Indrani said...

NDA, a great institution! I am proud.
Thank you so much for the glimpses inside.

P.N. Subramanian said...

A nice post on a great institution. Photographs too are beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

Laura in Paris said...

What a moving story about the table waiting for a POW to return ..

Bullshee said...

Excellent post...Jai Javan.

Arundhati said...

Enjoyed this post, it gave me a glimpse into a soldier's life.

When I was younger I used to be an idealist, with a simplistic view - why couldn't all the nations of the world live peacefully, didn't people all over the world want to live happily?

'Happiness is available. Please help yourself to it. . . . If you are happy, all will profit from it.' - I liked these lines from your profile. And also that you like 'To Kill a Mockingbird', following you ! :)

RGB said...

Interesting tidbits. Nice to see the due recognition these brave men (who put their lives in line to save ours)get at the institution. Inspiring too, their words and deeds.

Corinne Rodrigues said...

Thank you Haddock. I'm sharing this with my Dad - a retired Army officer.

Anil P said...

Thanks for sharing your experiences at the NDA. I've never been there though I've visited Pune and the area near it.

Interesting to learn how the Sudan Block came about, and the table set for POWs.

JayaBidkar said...

Very touching post Joe. Though being from Pune and having a lot of friends from NDA, your post was a refreshing view to the whole existence of NDA. The little nitty -gritties were educational. You write well..keep it up.

Riot Kitty said...

Interesting post and great pictures!

Haddock said...

Thanks a lot to all.
Sometimes from your comments I get to learn more on the subject
Lately people have started contacting me to write for their websites/products for which they are ready to pay me. So far I have done two (Mask & Uniform) And why not, like some one said, getting paid to do something that you like to do.
Good to know that you had been to NDA earlier
@ Jeanette
You have rightly identified the 2 points with which I wrote this post. Powerful and Respectful. In fact I wanted to write more (and had more photographs to accompany) but that would make it too lengthy.
Yes, one of my intentions was to showcase the NDA to the whole world as there are institutions like these all over the world for each country.
@ Virtual Poona Blogger
Yes those from Poona will find this nostalgic. Do share it with those
who would appreciate it.
@ Chowla
Its sad that you could not make it
@ Shalini
Yes it's a truly amazing place.
@ Anjuli
Good to know that you enjoyed it. As you said, I try to pick different
subjects for writing.
@ Deepa Krishnan
What you said did cross my mind too. Just imagine the colossal waste of
money (and men) each country is spending trying to protect their
borders. But its wishful thinking. Since time immorable invasion was the order of the day.
@ Lazy Pineapple
Yes the table of the POW really caught my attention
@ Aparna
The table for POW, even I did not get to see it during my earlier trip
about seven years ago, because I did not go to the dining hall.
@ Vineetsdiary
Yes a standing ovation for all of them who silently serve.
@ Neena Sharma
Thanks for reading too.
@ Nandu Chitnis
Aha Captain, reminds me of the earlier visit when we all had been to
Peacock's Bay
@ marie
Thanks Marie :-)
@ Vinita
Yes these cadets have to undergo rigorous training and we get to see some "punishments" at times
By the way can’t get back to your blog. When I click on your profile I get the message: Profile Not Available The Blogger Profile you requested cannot be displayed. Many Blogger users have not yet elected to publicly share their Profile.

@ Cindrella
Yes lets not forget them.
Thankyou :-)
@ Joseph
Yes, I found that adding photographs to the post makes it more appealing.
@ Bardot
Thanks :-)
@ Bikramjitsingh Mann
So sad you could not make it.
@ Theresa
I was even contemplating adding Sunny's picture in this.(signing the photograph) I think you can send this link to all the batchmates.
@ Indrani
Yes all Indians are proud of the NDA

@ P N Subramanian
Thanks :-)
@ Laura in Paris
Many have found that moving.
@ Bullshee
Thanks :-)
@ Arundhati
Like I said, just imagine the colossal waste of money (and men) each country is spending trying to protect their borders. But its wishful thinking. Since time memorable invasion was the order of the day.
Yes happiness is available all around, but we all run after some elusive happiness which we never meet. Mockingbird was a good book/movie. And Gregory Peck has done justice to the role.
Indeed inspiring for all of us.
@ Corrine Rodrigues
Waiting for your dad's feed back :-)
@ Anil P
There is more to the Sudan Block and I did not go to the individual rooms.
@ JayaBidkar
Thanks Jaya. Yes many in Pune has yet to see it.
@ Riot Kitty
Good to know you enjoyed it.

Trish said...

Woww!this is very interesting post.I visited the NDA when I was 2 year old...But have no memories:) The table for POWs,made me so emotional..Thanks for sharing.
And thanks for visiting my blog.

mumbai paused said...

The standards should have improved not just maintained over the last many decades!

Rajesh said...

Beautiful post. It is a pity that these personnel who are ready to lay their life for our better life are not given the deserving respect when they are alive.

Eden said...

What an interesting post. Great pictures .Thank you for sharing.

A 2 Z said...

Hi Haddock,

Thanks for the visit. Its my first visit on your blog. I'm quite happy to have met you and your last entry is really interesting. I know so little about your area, its history and geography. You are a good writer and teacher in some way. Your post was informative and touching. Thanks for sharing. Best regards,

Anne-Marie :D

Sylvia K said...

Hi Haddock! Thank you again for your visit/comment. This is my first visit to your site, but it certainly won't be the last! What an interesting and fascinating post. In the couple of years that I've been blogging I have made so many friends in India, particularly Mumbai, that have added so much to my blogging life. And another delight has been able to meet two here in Seattle where they were visiting. I have so enjoyed learning more and more these past two years about India and it's culture. Thank you!


Babli said...

I appreciate for your wonderful post. Great tribute to all our brave and courageous soldiers. Thanks for sharing your experience at NDA. All the pictures are very nice.

CherylK said...

This is such an interesting post. I learned so much. The table set for the missing soldier is a very touching photograph...what a wonderful thing to do.

anamika said...

You post gave me goose bump..

I am proud to be an Indian:)

Anonymous said...

I am moved by your post, especially the photo of the small table.

Amrita said...

Thanks for stopping by at my blog and letting me discover this blog :D :D
I am so absolutely fascinated and totally moved by this particular post!!
Captain Haddock happens to be my favourite character. Glad to make acquaintence with a person who likes to be known as "Haddock" :)

Haddock said...

@ Trish
Yes I think everyone should visit the NDA (at least those who are in Pune)

@ mumbai paused
Yes the standards should have improved, but the way our politicians keep intrefering, just maintaining the same standards is a great thing.

@ Rajesh
Very true. A marksman scores a gold in the olympic and he is paid in crores. A soldier lays down his life protecting us and he is compensated just in lakhs (that too single digit)

@ Eden
Thanks for going throug the post :-)

@ A 2 Z
Good to see you here. If we look a little deeper, we find that all countries make the smiliar mistakes, but we seldom learn from it.

@ Sylviw K
Good to know that you did meet some good people in Seattle.
Hope to see you more here.
@ Babli
Thanks for the visit and comments.

@ CherylK
It’s a leaning process for all of us.

@ anamika
Goose bumps? I did not know that my posts could give that effect :-)
@ swamericana
Hope to see you more often.

@ Amrita
Blistering branacles another Haddock fan…. :-)
Good to know you enjoyed this.
Lets proceed cautiously, Thnomson and Thomson is around.

RamMmm said...

Great post Haddock seeing that through your eyes. The armed forces do have a wonderful tradition.

Lata said...

Beautifully expressed!!Almost felt I was there while reading what you have written.

rahul said...

army is the best all cunteri aap log hamare liya god ho ....connent to relative to manoj pandy my rahul dream army .09580719304

Ruchira said...

This is an extremely poignant post ! It has been a dream for me to visit NDA and your post made me feel I was right there ! The Table set for the POW is so heart wrenching !
You know I always wanted to join the army when I was a child :P

Jaideep said...

Nicely written about the NDA & lovely photos too .... it's NOSTALGIA for me .... I don't mind wallowing in it forever .... kudos to you.

Jaideep said...

Nicely written about the NDA & lovely photos too .... it's NOSTALGIA for me .... I don't mind wallowing in it forever .... kudos to you.

Jaideep said...

Re-visited this blog again today .... still holds me in awe .... same old NOSTALGIA hit me again .... thanks & hats off to you.

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