Humour and lessons in uniform
The National Defence Academy (NDA), situated in Pune, is a premier military institution which imparts training to potential officers of the country’s armed forces. It is at present indisputably one of the best among the joint service academies in existence anywhere in the world and numerous countries have modelled their academies after it.
While this 70-year-old iconic institution has two well-compiled histories, surprisingly there are hardly any books written by ex-NDA officers on the interesting life they spent as cadets in the academy. Rohit Agarwal’s Academy: Bonded for Life fills in the gap. Agarwal, who is a retired Lt Col from the Indian Army, has penned an interesting account of the tribulations of a cadet and how he transforms during his three years, or six terms in the academy. The foreword is written by Col Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, AVSM (Retd), one of the most illustrious alumni of the academy. The book is essentially an account of the three memorable years Agarwal had spent as a cadet in the 75th NDA Course.
Academy-Bonded for Life covers all six terms in chronological order, and life as a cadet during each term is very well described, interspersed with humorous incidents and annotated cartoons. The cadets’ daily routine, reciting the NDA prayer, the various ‘punishments’ — official and unofficial, the tendency to catch up on sleep during academic classes and the experiences of junior cadets with the bicycle — where the bicycles ride more often than you ride them, is very well brought out.
The book is also a tribute to those service and civilian instructors who have shaped boys into men by personal example. The plethora of gallantry awards won by its alumni, most of them posthumous, bears testimony to how well the academy is performing this role.
The book makes interesting reading and has something for everyone. While it’s a trip down memory lane for those with a service background, it can also inspire the younger generation thinking of making the services their life’s calling.