JSW – The New Avataar for ISW


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.

9 responses »

  1. Sir,
    I can visualise the bewildered look of your boyhood friend Gora when you ragged
    him and having thought process, ” Thy too Tapas, than Gora should be ragged.”
    It might have been very hilarious too.
    We had a glimpse on transition from pre independence era to independence era.
    ps: Do you support ragging?

  2. Sir,
    This post is of historical value. It shows that the transfer of power from the British crown to India was an amicable process. The fact that the old colours of 35 regiments were ceremoniously laid to rest in IMA speaks for itself.
    Over the years I have come to realise that British rule in India was always a joint venture. The British never ‘invaded’ or ‘conquered’ India. We basically invited them onboard.
    The Quit India movement of 1942 fizzled out. On the other hand, 2.4 million volunteers joined the [British] Indian Army during World War II.
    Clement Attlee was the British PM when India became independent. In an interview in Kolkata he said that the real reason that india got independence was the INA and the changing attitude of the Indian armed forces as evidenced by several mutinies.
    The Indian Naval mutiny of 1946 was widespread and information about it is readily available. There was also an RIAF mutiny at Tambaram (maybe Avadi also). And only recently I’ve heard about an Army mutiny at Jabalpur.
    I have only faint recollections of 1947 and was too young to read the newspapers or understand any of these things.
    It will be interesting and useful if you would comment on all this.

  3. Amazing memory of events in the formative yeras of your life. Hats off to you Sir. I find your narrative tickling my Nostalgic memories of years gone by. I was in the 11th course. We did one year in Dehradun and one year in Khadakvasla. After the Ricketty shacks in Clement town we were too excited to raech Pune, a Brand New Academy in Khadakvasla Pune. Here the Joint Service Wing was dropped and we became Pure National Defence Academy.

    Our joy of reaching Khaadakvasla turned into Nigtmarish experience with Influenza invading our Campus. High Fever and attended side affects. One cadet from our jumior course 12th died as a result of this dreaded disease. We also had massive rains in the month of June. In a small non consequential riverlet, our very loved Instructor in Academics Major Tipnis’s small car with him and wife were washed away. killed. This broke our hearts.

    Another exciting thing was that the Pune town was agog with NDA news and the cadets were just too thrilled with the Poonaites, particularly the cute girls. In those uniforms with just thirty Rupees as our pocket money per month was not enough, one would imagine but we made the best use of our resources, by taking our dates to a cup of tea/cofeee in the Pune cofee house. We used to cycle all the way to town some 15 KM one way week after week unless one was under Restriction/ or punishment.

    We were 3rd termers in Khadakvasla, too senior. In our days the Second termers looked after the discipline, conduct, social aspects and service manners etc and I do remember that our Second termers shaped our destiny in Service.

    To Pradip’s question about Ragging, I for one hated doing front rolls in the drains of Clement Town on a winter night. I hated every bit of it including lifting the Seniors black boxes on their arrival. Barring an odd toughening exercise I did not rag my juniors when I was in second term. But I say it with some confidence that the ragging those days made us tough to cope with the rigid discipline to make the Grade. It was good Fun and stopped after three or four weeks. But if the ragging takes a different turn of Bullying etc it assumes a different dimension and loses the whole purpose of Comraderie. Our Seniors were far too sensible to indulge in any unworthy practice.

    With Regards, HMS.

  4. Sir (Himlynx),
    Rise of INA, Quit India Movement and economic considerations were probably main reasons for British leaving India.
    The importance of Quit India movement was that it could galvanized the nation . To quote Amitav Srivastava, other two reasons were INA movement and economic consideration.
    1. Though the Azad Hind Movement died prematurely, the trials of INA troops in 1945 inflamed the masses in general. Such, was the effect that British government forbid the BBC from broadcasting their story. During and after the trial, mutinies broke out in the British Indian Armed forces, most notably in the Royal Indian Navy which found public support throughout India, from Karachi to Bombay and from Vizag to Calcutta and ultimately came to involve 78 ships, 20 shore establishments and 20,000 sailors.

    2. After the WWII ended in 1945 the financial condition of Britain was in shambles. t
    By 1945 British economic interests in India were considerably less than they had been. In 1900 British goods represented 69 percent of Indian impors but in 1945 the figure was less than 20 percent. In 1870 India had sent 53 percent of its exports to Britain while in 1945 only 28 percent of its exports were. Although still of some importance to the British economy India did not play as important role as, for example, Malaya which was a dollar-earner useful in the support of sterling. During the inter-war depression the value of exports to India had fallen by half, foreign penetration and import substitution contributing to the decline. On balance it was no longer worth the cost of attempting to further delay the granting of independence—better to pull out as gracefully as possible and try and maintain links with a new leadership which still had some sympathy and respect for things BritishSource.
    Also, running the day to day administration of a colony like India was a big burden given that trade could be carried out even after granting the political independence.

    • @PKGT,
      Agreed with you assessment above. Of the two reasons that you have outlined, the former i.e. the INA and then the RIN mutiny (i believe there was even a RIAF mutiny, though much smaller) shook the British establishment to the core. For long they believed that the Indian soldier, who would put discipline above everything else would never step out of line. Of course the reasons (causes)for the RIN mutiny were largely internal, while the INA had largely external and political inputs. Having spoken with some people of that time, i did find that the British Establishment for the first time suspected even Indian Officers of sympathy for the cause of the RIN mutineers and some of them (largely RINVR) were disposed of as part of the “demob” exercise underway then.

      Dare i add that the RIN mutiny also had an effect on the political leadership that took over the reins of power post-independence. They also had some deeply latent misgivings about the Indian soldier. Firstly they attempted to profile the Indian Officers on the basis of their perceived attitudes during that tumultous period. And decided to keep the Military establishment under some restraint. Which steadily manifested itself in the Babu-Military relationship over time and all its practical ramifications.

      That is just my perception.

  5. PC ,
    You have touched upon a very sensitive issue. Let me critically analyze this issue. Government might have decided to keep the Military establishment under some restrain . However this restrain did not stop the military establishment to evolve and build organization culture and system in sync with Indian ethos and culture. Let me try to elaborate.
    Prof. Yves Doz, of INSEAD, France speaks of three level of knowledge to evolve & build an organization culture.
    • Technical Knowledge (80%)
    • Experiential Layer (15%)
    • Existential layer (5%)
    What is the challenge? The challenge is the “ Transition from technical context to experiential layer of knowledge.”

    What do they mean?
     Technical Context:- At this level , knowledge is all about specifications handed down to a professional who needs to create something.
     Experiential layer of knowledge:-At this level is not about technical specifications and the functionality of the product or service we make or offer. Here the professionals gets into the shoes of the end user.
     Existential layer of knowledge:-Here it is not about getting in to the shoes of the customer but about “Creeping into the minds “ of the customers.
    Military establishment is far away from this transition.
    Somehow I have a feeling that military establishment has failed to evolve into a highly professional outfit. Military professionalism was in its lowest ebb when chief of the Army staff has to knock Supreme court to correct his age. It is not an isolated case. High rate of air accidents, various army scams, Naval officers down loading critical information’s in the net speaks very low of professional competency of the establishment.

  6. PC,
    President Roosevelt had a secret summit with Churchill abroad the battleships Augusta & Prince of Wells in Placentia Bay, off the coast of Newfoundland, early in August 1941. At the end of the summit, Roosevelt insisted that, they should jointly issue a declaration of principles which is famously known as Atlantic Charter. To Churchill’s chagrin, therefore, Roosevelt insisted in the joint declaration the following—
    • There be no post-war territorial gains coveted by , or given to , the US or Britain;
    • That any alteration in national boundaries should only take place by consent of the peoples concerned;
    • And that all peoples- including those in the colonies – had the right to self-determination.
    Obviously this sent ice running through Churchill’s veins. Churchill’s dream of the continuation of the British Empire, with the ongoing subjection of India, Burma, Singapore, Malaya, and other colonies in Africa, the Middle East and the Far East, was thus shaken. FDR himself stood behind the American version of the declaration, however, and Churchill, desperate for America to become a participating ally (Field Marshal Smuts, his strategic adviser, had reported that the war against Germany could never be won without American intervention), was forced to present the document to his cabinet in London as a fait accompli.
    Dear PC, above information has been obtained from the book American Caesars by Nigel Hamilton.

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