The second term at Clement Town started with a number of changes. First of all, the name of our Academy was changed from AFA (the Armed Forces Academy) to NDA (the National Defence Academy). We were made to change our shoulder insignia to reflect the new name. We also had to change our cap badges. The AFA sported the Star of India as its cap badge. The motto printed on it was ‘Heaven’s Light Our Guide’ . I liked our old insignia and the motto. However, as we returned to the Academy, we were given out new cap badges and shoulder plates. The new cap badge was the newly constructed tri-service insignia over a three-fold motto panel that read ‘Service Before Self’ . It took only a few minutes to change into the new Avatar.
As cadets under training, we did not give this change any importance or thought. However, I now sometimes wonder why this change was thought necessary, Prima-facie the name Armed Forces Academy sounded OK and appeared appropriate. Why then was the change of name to National Defence Academy brought about? Were we subconsciously shy of admitting that we posses ‘Armed’ forces? Were we therefore subconsciously making excuses for training such forces and declaring that these people are for ‘National Defence’ only, that we have no offensive intentions against any one whatsoever? Similarly, was invoking ‘Heaven’s Light’ as ‘Our Guide’ in the Motto militate against our ‘Secular’ credo? An interesting thought. That would also perhaps explain why the motto was also changed over time from Service Before Self to a more benign ‘Seva Paramo Dharma’.
We found that in preparation for the arrival of the fourth course two new Squadrons – Easy and Fox – had been created and made ready. However, a few days later it was realized that like the third course, the fourth course was also under-subscribed. The Planned intake into the ISW/JSW was 250 cadets per course. However, for the first course only 190 could be selected. In the third course only 90 of us had made the grade. I do not remember the exact figures, but the second and the fourth courses were way below the targeted 250. Within a week Easy and Fox Squadrons were disbanded and the cadets were redistributed to the older four Squadrons.
The most exciting part for us was the arrival of a course junior to us. We were no more at the bottom of the pile. It was now possible for us to rag our juniors, and we did so quite shamelessly. However, we always kept our ragging within reasonable bounds. For me the fun part was to rag Gora. He did not expect me to join the gang ragging him. Perhaps he expected me to rescue him from his tormentors, and was hurt that I did not.
The Air Force bunch in the third course was really small. Initially, only 11 cadets had joined. Our cadet serials began from 370 for BK Chattoraj (before he changed it to Chatterjee) and ran up to 379 for AK Das. For some obscure reason, Koko Sen was slotted in at 388. the seven numbers between Atin Das and Koko went to Army cadets. Our course numbers ran from 301 to 390. The first 15 numbers were for Naval cadets. The Air Force numbers I have mentioned above. The rest belonged to the Army. At the beginning of the second term our Air Force bunch was supplemented by one more cadet. One cadet from the second course, Karansher Singh Kalsia, joined us. Karan had opted out of the Academy in the beginning of his second term because he lost his father at that time. Karan’s father was the King of Kalsia, a member of the eight states that constituted a Part B state named PEPSU (Patiala East Punjab States Union). It was a conglomeration of Patiala, Kapurthala, Nabha, Jind, Malerkotla, Faridkot, Kalsia and Nalagarh. Karan was a product of the Doon School. He was a smart lad and was extremely popular in his course mates. However, he was required to leave the academy on his father’s death for the formalities of succession that made him the new ‘king’ of Kalsia. Karan however was a fauji at heart. He decided to come back to the academy after the formalities were complete even though he had to accept a loss of six month of seniority and joined the next junior course. He also applied for and obtained a change in his choice of service from the army to become an Air Force Cadet. We thus became a gang of 12. Karan and I grew to become very close friends. We shared a cabin from the second till the fourth term.
Subsequent to India becoming a republic on 26 Jan 1950, all the old Army Regiments and Service Corps discarded their ‘Royal’ prefixes and stopped using their Colours and Standards. In the later half of 1950 it was decided that all these historical Colours would be ceremonially laid down in a parade for historical storage and that this parade will be held at the Military Wing Prem Nagar Drill Square. The date for the parade was fixed for 23rd November 1950. There were 35 Colours Parties for 35 regiment who were to lay their King’s Colours down. They were to be escorted by Escort companies on either end of the parade. Gentlemen Cadets for the Military Wing provided two companies for the leading in escorts. Two other companies were provided by the Cadets of first and second courses from JSW Clement Town. Normally, the cadets in the JSW did not parade with arms, but for this parade they carried rifles. They therefore had to brush up their rifle drill. Also, the rifle regiments in the parade marched at 140 beats to the minute instead of the 120 beats that the Gentlement Cadets and JSW cadets were used to. The GCs and the Cadets therefore had to really train hard. The cadets of the third and fourth courses from the JSW were considered too young/untrained to take part in this parade. We therefore attended the parade as spectators. It was a spectacular parade.
Soon after the Colours Parade it was time for us to start practicing for the passing out parade for the first course. This time our course was very much in the parade and the Drill Instructors had a field day grinding us to dust. Life went on as we reached the mid point of our two year stay in the JSW.