The National Defence Academy (NDA) will admit about 20 women cadets from around the middle of next year, paving the way for their training in the premier tri-service military training institution for the first time, News18.com has learnt.
Of this, the Army would have the largest intake of about 10 women officers, followed by the Indian Air Force and the Navy at about five each.
Senior defence officials said that the requirement was put forth by the individual service headquarters.
“These women cadets would be admitted initially in the first go. Based on further assessments, the number is likely to go up in the future,” an official said.
Located in Pune’s Khadakwasla, the NDA was formally inaugurated in 1955. It currently has a total strength of 18 squadrons, each of which comprises around 120 cadets. The institution has about 2,020 cadets at present across its six terms.
The cadets join the NDA for their pre-commissioning training after their class 12th board exams.
As per government sources, over six lakh candidates apply for the four NDA entrance and two Combined Defence Services exams every year. The examinations are conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).
The sources said, this year, over two lakh women candidates had sent in their applications to appear for the NDA exam alone, even as the number of eligible candidates might have been reduced after the screening of the applications.
In September, the Supreme Court had ruled that women be inducted into NDA from this year itself, and not from next year as sought by the Centre.
So far, women officers joined the armed forces from Officers Training Academy (OTA), Chennai, where they got admitted after their graduation.
As per sources, the NDA has already been working to add two more squadrons to its existing 18 and increase the annual intake of military cadets, considering a current shortfall in the number of armed forces officers. It is also trying to cater to a growing demand from foreign cadets and ground duty cadets of the IAF who were first admitted to the academy last year, as well as anticipating the need to admit women cadets.
In an interview with News18.com last week, former Assistant Chief of Integrated Defence Staff (ACIDS) at Headquarters Integrated Defence Staff (HQ-IDS) Major General Arvind Bhatia (retd) had said that the idea being discussed was to progressively have around 120-150 women cadets in the NDA at a given time.
As reported by News18.com, the NDA is also preparing to welcome the women cadets into its campus by way of modifying its infrastructure, putting in place a strong security apparatus and initiating appointments of women instructors, doctors including gynaecologists, and other requisite support staff, among other steps.
Major General Bhatia had said that initially a portion of an existing squadron—housing about 110 cadets—would be segregated and associated infrastructure would be created for the first batch of women cadets, adding that a separate panel is working out other modalities such as the physical fitness and medical parameters of the women cadets, including height, weight and eyesight.
The overall cadre management will also be eventually worked out, he had said.