This Sunday, as women script history, NDA readies for a tactical shift
Business Standard|November 13, 2021
Besides infrastructure changes, the all-male Khadakwasla campus will need sensitisation lessons
VEENU SANDHU

Some 17 km southwest of Pune city in Khadakwasla, Maharashtra, lies the National Defence Academy (NDA), the world's first triservice military school where cadets aspiring for the army, navy, and air force train together.

Spread across 28-odd sqkm, with hills in the neighborhood, a pristine lake, and an invigorating climate with a mean temperature of 24.3 degrees Celsius, it's an idyllic campus.

Watching over it from atop a hill is the Sinhagad fort, believed to be over 2,000 years old and the site of many battles. For the cadets, hikes and runs from the academy to the fort in full battle gear are part of their three years of regimented routine and rigorous training at the NDA.

This is an academy that prides itself in making soldiers out of boys - or scholar warriors, as the NDA says, who pass out armed with a degree from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, and a keen understanding of modern warfare.

Missing from this world, however, are women. But for a handful of academic subject teachers, the NDA has stayed an out-and-out male bastion since Jawaharlal Nehru, as prime minister, laid the foundation stone for it in 1949 (the academy was finally inaugurated on January 16, 1955). This, now, is about to change.

On Sunday, November 14, which coincidentally is Nehru's birth anniversary, history will be scripted as hundreds of young women write the NDA entrance exam after the Supreme Court told the Centre to open the academy's gates for them without further ado.

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