It was a long struggle for women in courts and institutions against the 65-year ceiling rule that prevented them from appearing in the National Defense Academy (NDA) entrance examinations. Following a Supreme Court directive on August 18, women could now apply for the upcoming Naval Academy Examination (II) and the NDA Examinations 2021 conducted by the Union Service Public Commission(UPSC). The registrations were open online at the official site of upsconline.nic.in from 24th September till 8th October for the exam scheduled for November 14th.
Officials cited that 1,78,000 candidates are women out of the 5,70,000 applications that have been received. Army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane was quoted by the Hindustan Times, “As we open the portals of NDA to women cadets, I expect you all to welcome them with the same sense of fair play and professionalism that the Indian armed forces are known for the world over,” Naravane said while addressing cadets during a passing out parade at the academy on Friday, two weeks before the exam. He said the induction of women will be the “first step towards gender equality” in the armed forces, and added that women officers will be in the same position 40 years later that he is in now.
The Khadakwasla-based academy, which currently has a maximum training capacity of around 2,000 cadets every year.
Once entrance exams are over, the candidates who have cleared it appear for the Services Selection Board in a rigorous personality and intelligence test over 5 days after which the further selected ones undergo a medical and physical examination before the final merit list is released. These stringent physical and medical standards equivalent for women candidates are still being formulated. The aspects for accommodation, training capacity, security and privacy arrangements, physical segregation of living quarters, associated physical and electronic surveillance measures, and additional gender-specific requirements are also underway.
General Narvane says that “Over the years, as we have grown and matured; as the curriculum has changed, training methodology has changed, the course content has improved. We have become more well-trained and better-equipped to meet whatever challenges that emerge. As we go ahead, we shall be inducting women cadets into the academy.” He also opines that he is confident of women cadets performing better than their male counterparts and as a result of this, they will also get empowered. They will hold more challenging assignments.
Unmarried women between 16-and-a-half to 19-and-a-half years of age who have completed their 10+2 education were eligible to appear in the examination. There were no application fees. Once accepted into the academy, candidates complete an undergraduate program spanning six semesters along with outdoor skills and physical training. After graduation, they are sent to their respective training academies for one year, before being granted a commission. The Army cadets to the Indian Military Academy (IMA) at Dehradun, Air Force cadets to the Air Force Academy (AFA) at Dundigal in Hyderabad, and Naval cadets to the Indian Naval Academy (INA) at Ezhimala in Kerala.