What happened at NDA is system aberration, says Commandant
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"What happened at the National Defence Academy is an aberration in the system. I was phoned by the chief to come and give a new fillip to the academy. Never ever get it into your mind that cadets of the 123rd course have any drawbacks. The 123rd course has performed exceedingly well," said NDA Commandant Lt Gen Ashok Singh addressing the convocation of the 123rd course.
This is the first time that Lt Gen Ashok Singh has spoken openly about the state of affairs at the academy post the CBI raids in connection with alleged irregularities in recruitment of class IV employees in June-July.
He took over as Commandant in August after his predecessor Lt Gen Jatinder Singh was transferred by Defence Minister A K Antony to allow a fair probe into the alleged scam.
As reported first by The Indian Express, Lt Gen Ashok Singh prior to his present post commanded the Mathura-based 1 Corps-a principal offensive formation of the Army- an appointment considered extremely prestigious. He is probably the first to take over as NDA Commandant after having commanded an operational formation of the level of a Corps.
"The resilience of the academy is tremendous. When I took over, the battalions, the squadrons, and the training were fine. We carried out an internal as well as external audit wherein officers of HQ IDS (Headquarters, Integrated Defence Staff) came down. We had the sports policy changed. We changed the punishment policy. We did not want relegation as punishment. We also revised the Officer Like Qualities (OLQs) as well as the honour code. We brought down stress fractures from 80s to around 16-18. There are people who say NDA is on a slow burner. But it is not so. The academy is getting better," he said.
The Commandant's declaration of reviewing sports and the punishment policy may also be viewed on the backdrop of a report by The Indian Express dated February 7 wherein it was reported that a committee instituted at the HQ IDS under an officer of the rank of major general had been reviewing physical training curriculum and physical tests at NDA besides other military academies in the country.
In his address, the Commandant reminded them of service before self, doing more than the task assigned, thinking out-of-the box for solutions, integrity, task, motivation, and passion to name a few. "NDA is an illustrious academy, not only in the country, but also the world," he said. CM Prithviraj Chavan was chief guest at the function.