Col J P Singh
Origin of National Cadet Corps (NCC) was perhaps the finest thing to happen to the student community of pre and post independent India. With its motto ‘Unity and Discipline’, NCC is instrumental in moulding the character of Indian youth by imparting them a dynamic patriotic and leadership outlook at their educational levels with a dose of military training. NCC today is a student soldiers Tri-Service organization comprising of Army, Navy and Air wings under the Ministry of Defense as second line of defence force. Students recruited on voluntary basis are given training in drill, shooting, tactics and field-craft by the military personnel. Three wings of the armed forces are engaged in training the youth into disciplined citizens and future leaders. Having seen military train its animal soldiers such as dogs, horses, mules and camels, the display of which the nation sees during R D Parades, would know how best the NCC Cadets are being trained by the military. I too was NCC Junior Division Cadet and later as Group Commander in Sambalpur (Orissa) and Pune (Maharashtra) and can vouch for young cadets ability to come up to nation’s expectations during an emergency. How to fully integrate this ability with the expectations of growing and threatened India needs constant review; which I am sure is high on govt’s agenda.
Its formation is traced back to ‘University Corps’ created by British under Indian Defence Act 1917 with an objective to make up the shortages in the army during WW I. Other objective was to curb subversive activities by channelizing youth energy through military training. It drew tremendous response from Indian youth for participation in war. Hence the experiment was a great success. In 1920, the University Corps was replaced by the University Training Corps (UTC) to make it more attractive to the youth.
During WW II, UTC didn’t come up to British expectations. Instead, lot of youth applied for commission in the British Army but were found lacking in ‘officer like qualities’ (OLQs) of initiative, self confidence and sense of responsibility etc. This was a pointer to serious defects in education system. This led to the idea of better schemes which could attract more youth in a better way even during peace. A committee headed by H N Kunzru recommended NCC in schools and colleges at a national level which came into existence on 15 July 1950. Its aim was intended to impart all round training to the students to develop leadership character. The training, though had military face, was largely educational and broad enough to evoke the enthusiasm of the cadets for their all-round development. Enrolment to NCC was kept voluntary with no liability for services in armed forces.
After independence requirement of development of leadership, character, comradeship with ideals of service to the nation with stimulation of interest in the defence of the country to the widest possible extent grew more than before. Hence the importance of the NCC also grew because even those who decide not to join the army normally would still be available to join the armed forces during war.
In 1949 the Girls Division was raised to give equal opportunities to school and college girls. It was given an inter-service image when the Air and Naval Wings were added in 1952. After 1962 India-China War, NCC training was made compulsory. But implementing it posed tremendous problems. Armed forces too were expanding after the Chinese aggression which placed a heavy demand on training equipment, stores, personnel and training staff. 17,000 JCOs and NCOs were required from the army as instructional staff. Army could spare little for the NCC. Hence in 1968 NCC was again made voluntary.
During 1965 and 71 Indo-Pak Wars, NCC cadets actually acted as second line of defence. It assisted ordnance factories and Depots to load and dispatch arsenal to the frontline troops. NCC was also used for patrolling during 1965 War in which Cadets captured enemy paratroopers and handed them over to army/police. NCC also worked hand in hand with civil defense authorities and actively took part in rescue works and traffic control. It drew public acclaim for the NCC as second line of defence.
As the times passed, NCC strength and military orientation underwent remarkable changes, the broad review of which is not possible due to constraints of space. Today their training broadly comprises of Institutional Training & Camp Training. Institutional training is indoors, in which junior division cadets, enrolled for 2 years, are required to attend 150 periods every year whereas senior division cadets, enrolled for 2 to 3 years, are required to attend 120 periods yearly. The camp training is broadly of two types. (i) state annual training camps organised by State Directorates and (ii) all India training camps by NCC Directorate General. State training camps are of 10 days for junior division and 12 days for senior division. Camps afford an opportunity of living outdoors in tents and working together as teams. All India camps are of 14 days and advanced leadership training camps are of 21 days duration. 37 ‘National Integration Camps’ (NIC) comprising of cadets from all the states and UTs are held yearly with six of them held in extremities of our country. In addition there are attachment camps with armed forces units, institutions and academies. On completion of training syllabi, cadets of junior division are eligible for ‘A’ certificate exam and cadets of senior division for ‘B’ & ‘C’ certificate exams. 32 vacancies are reserved for ‘C’ Certificate holders in every IMA course.
Teachers & Professors who are given NCC Commission are the main stay of the NCC. They are known as ANOs (Associate NCC Officers). Men are trained in ‘Officers Training School (OTS) Kamptee and women officers are trained in OTS Gwalior.
Under the ‘Youth Exchange Programme’ (YEP) with friendly countries, NCC Cadets of foreign countries come to India to live with and interact with our Cadets for 3 months. Reciprocally our Cadets go to foreign countries. This programme is very very popular. (SUO Aman Singh, a cadet of 4 J&K NCC Battalion, student of Govt Degree College Kathua, has been to Bangladesh on the YEP recently and returned enriched with knowledge and confidence. Annual NCC National Games are held in Delhi besides which NCC teams take part in various major national tournaments.
Finally there is Republic Day Camp in which nearly 2,100 cadets take part and march past on the Rajpath saluting the Rashtrapati. But more exciting and star studded event is NCC Rally where the prime minister takes salute and presents the NCC Banner to the Best Directorate and awards to the best cadets. This is the culminating purple patch of the camp in which their extraordinary feats from dare devil actions like gliding, flying, mountaineering, hang-gliding, para-sailing, horse riding, physical assault and march past are on the display.
NCC provides ushers for sports and ceremonial events. NCC boys and girls, dressed in smart uniforms steal the show out-rightly in such events. Their smartness, intelligence, initiatives and courteous behavior makes them best suited for the ushers. They catch the eye of the press and hence win public admiration. This job further enriches them socially and intellectually. Pune Marathon is an annual international event in which role of the NCC is unprecedented. The crest of their popularity was seen in November 1982 when 7,200 cadets won abundant acclaim, both in India and abroad for their spectacular performance on the opening day of ‘Asiad 82’. NCC was in the forefront in the Pandemic like other Corona warriors. Its role in Swatch Bharat, Swasth Bharat, blood donation, save water and electricity, ban-plastic, tree plantation etc has brought to focus the strength and importance of the organized youth force. The story is continuing. It is the story of youth; the young soldiers with confidence and character, forever marching forward, marching in step to glory non-stop.
In its seven decades of existence, NCC has carved a place in the hearts of students by helping them to exploit their potential as leaders of the nation. The fact that Pradhan Mantri and Raksha Mantri had been NCC cadets goes to show how much the NCC contributes in making one a successful leader. After 2014, because of Modi, NCC is getting strengthened as ‘youth wing armed force’. During last year NCC Rally, Modi sanctioned one Lakh vacancies for schools on the LoC and LAC which hither to were away from NCC reach. By doing so Modi has entrusted nation’s security, safety and integration to the young soldiers.
Col J P Singh