On December 11, one of the Gentleman Cadets stepping over the “Final Step”, at Chetwode Hall, Indian Military Academy would be commissioned into the Indian Army, and would have the unique privilege of being the 50 thousand officer trained by this illustrious institution. The Academy in every six months, like a river which feeds the sea, sends fresh young officers trained hard into one of the noblest profession the Indian Army where sacrifice in blood is an age-old tradition.
The Indian military leadership is about 5,000 years old and it has produced scores of valiant heroes.
The Indian Military Academy post-Independence is associated with the military leadership for having nurtured the majority of permanent commissioned officer. The age- old tradition of nurturing military talent in the Doon Valley dates back to around 3,500- 4,000 years ago, when guru Dronocharya trained the Kaurvas and the Pandavas prince here. Today, 78 years after its establishment the alma mater proudly sends forth the 50,000 Gentleman Cadet trained to occupy his place as an officer from its hallowed portals, adding another feather to its cap.
On April 1, 1932 the sprawling campus of the erstwhile Railway Staff College was acquired and handed over for establishment of the Indian Military Academy. Since then the Academy has expanded and, today its campus is spread in around 1200 acres of land. It has been a memorable journey for the Academy. The rigorous training and hectic schedule produced officers from the first five batches who were known as pioneers, immootals, invincibles, stalwarts, and bahadurs, respectively. By the close of 1939 war clouds were looming large over Europe had engulfed the whole world. The Academy, accordingly, changed gears and made its due contribution to the war effort by training officers for the Second World War.
During the war years from February 1940 to December1946, a total of 49 courses were conducted at the Academy in which 4774 officers were trained. Post-Independence the Academy went trough the turmoil of partition and thereafter started training officers for the Indian Army, the serial numbering of courses from 1 onwards started then and so did the Indian Commissioned officers.
How the total adds up October 1932 to May 1940 — 5 Courses conducted, 525 officers trained, February 1940 to December 1946 (War time courses), 49 Courses conducted, 4774 officers trained, Emergency Course 1963 to August 1964, 5 Courses, 1642 Officers trained, January 1947 to date (Regular Course), 127 Regular Courses being commissioned, 50,000 officer now being commissioned.
Till date 1351 foreign GCs from 28 countries have also been trained at the IMA.
These countries are from Central Asia Republics, Indian Sub-continent, Middle East, Africa, and Island Republics.
Each officer on being commissioned is granted an Indian Commission Number generically called IC number.
The rank system in the Army has been in vogue from ancient Greece and Rome. The Communist did away with the rank only to regret and had to reinstate the same later on due to operational difficulties in command and control. Rank is the hierarchical structure on which the military functions. In medieval times the top officers were known as commissioned officers, because their rank came from a royal commission, granted personally from the King.
Today, the President of India, who is also the Supreme Commander of the armed forces, signs the commission which is also promulgated as a Gazette of India notification. The significance of the commission lies in its personal address from the President to the concerned officer and is an act of faith.
Commissioning is unique to the forces only as historically it was an act of trust between the King and his commissioned officers, who derived their numbers from him, thus in England there is the Kings/ Queens Commission thus signifying it was a special privilege. In the United States officers receive commission assigning them to the officer corps from the President who is also their Supreme Commander with the consent of the Senate, thus commissioning is a special privilege to an officer and a Gentleman.
The IC number also serves as a means of identification. In computer language it is the primary key for identification, just like every citizen now will be entitled to a unique identification number.
Every soldier in the Army has an identification number thus an IC number represents an officer. To accept this commission an officer takes an oath of allegiance to the service and in the case of the Indian Commissioned Officer he also swears by the Constitution of India, the oath ends with the words “even at the peril of my life”, something that the alumni of the Academy have lived up to. A total of 815 officers commissioned from the Academy have made the supreme sacrifice and their names are etched in the War Memorial.
At the IMA War Memorial the names of 815 warriors have been inscribed. Thus from the protected atmosphere of the Academy moves forth a confident officer ready to occupy his place under the sun ever ready to lead his men into battle. A cradle of military leadership the Indian Military Academy gears up to produce another course in six months time.
Brig CS Thapa (Retd) is privileged to be commissioned from the Academy and also served as a Battalion Commander
Courtesy: The Pioneer, 10 December 2010
(The views expressed in the article are that of the author and do not represent the views of the editorial committee or the centre for land warfare studies).