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Post by : BRIG. SANDEEP RAWAT Post on : 05.04.2020


Dear Friends,

A very warm Namaste and a resounding Jai Hind!

One of the most frequent questions that get asked to people like me is about the various ways that an aspirant can choose to become a part of the officers’ cadre of one of the most, actually the most (as per numerous surveys), admired institutions in our country.  I shall devote this post to highlight some of the major options which young people could choose, in order to fulfil their dream of serving the nation.

Luckily, there are myriad options, at every stage of a youth’s life, for aspirants looking to make Indian Armed Forces their chosen profession and their way of life.  Moreover, the entry level qualification ranges from +2 or, 12th class to post-graduation.  Let’s look at some of the more common types of entries that one could aspire for and target.

National Defence Academy (NDA) / Naval Academy Entry

Boys who have cleared the 12th Science (PCM) stream can enter the National Defence Academy/Naval Academy.  However, if you are an aspirant only for the Army, you could apply even if you have studied other subjects in Class XII, as long as you have studied Mathematics as part of your syllabus.  This also means that you could attempt an entrance exam while studying in Class 12th and be able to join the batch commencing immediately after your board exams.  At the NDA, Air Force and Navy candidates are put through a BTech programme whereas the Army Cadets (or Pongos, as they are affectionately called in NDA), have to make do with plain vanilla graduation.  On the other hand, at the Naval Academy, candidates go through a four years’ BTech programme.  The aspirants are required to go through an entrance test conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) which is held twice a year.  The successful candidates must thereafter, pass in the Services Selection Board (SSB).

Technical Entry Scheme

For those young men who have been unable to clear their NDA written entrance exam but, have good grades in their Class XII, this scheme is a boon!  Every year, based on the board results, a cut off percentage is decided by the UPSC (subject to a minimum of 70% marks in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics), beyond which, if an aspirant has scored, he may apply through this scheme for the Indian Army.  If short-listed, he will be called for the SSB.  As far as the Indian Navy and Air Force are concerned, the result of JEE Mains is considered for this scheme.

Graduate Entry Scheme

  • Indian Army: Keeping it simple, the Indian Army accepts graduates from any stream.
  • Indian Navy: The Indian Navy, flaunting its technological superiority, accepts only science graduates.  However, the Logistics branch of the Indian Navy also accepts graduates of BBA, BCom, BA (Eco) etc.  For joining the Logistics Branch of the Indian Navy, no entrance examination is conducted and call letters for SSB are issued based on percentage scored in the results of graduation / post-graduation examination of the university.
  • Indian Air Force: Following in the Indian Navy’s footsteps, the Indian Air Force also accepts only science graduates the main branches.  However, the ground duty / administration branches of the Indian Air Force also accept graduates of BBA, BCom or BA (Eco) etc.  However, unlike the Indian Navy, the Indian Air Force conducts a Common Aptitude Test (AFCAT).

All aspirants are required to go through an entrance test conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), which is held twice a year.  The successful candidates, thereafter, must pass in the SSB.

Technical Graduates Entry: It may come as a surprise to some but, there is a very high demand for technical officers in the armed forces.  Candidates of almost any stream of engineering are eligible to join the armed forces.  Engineering graduates do not have to appear in any entrance test but are required to pass in the SSB.  However, the Indian Air Force, maintaining its distinctiveness, conducts an Engineering Knowledge Test (EKT).

NCC Special Entry Scheme: Holders of the NCC ‘C’ certificate, with a ‘B’ Grade, and a minimum of 50% in their graduation, are eligible to join and do not have to go through the UPSC entrance examination.  They need to just pass the SSB.  But, before you rush to acquire that certificate only as a means to getting a key to this door, be warned that the door is very narrow – that is to say that number of vacancies through this route are very few.  This is not to say that pursuing this certificate is not worth your time – by itself, it is a very worthy and satisfying pursuit and will definitely make you a better person and a leader.  I am only pointing out that all your eggs shouldn’t be in this basket.

Women Entry Scheme: Although women officers have been part of a few branches for a long time, it is only in recent years that more doors have opened for them in the Indian Armed Forces.  They can join the three services, after graduation, through respective training academies, following similar selection procedures.  In the Indian Navy and Air Force, they are also being inducted in flying arms.  Hopefully, in the future, the Indian Armed Forces will move towards becoming an equal opportunity employer, even offering combat roles to the women of India.  But that is another story, another debate!

Well, there it is.  I am sure some of the readers will have doubts about some aspect or the other.  You are welcome to write in to my email with any queries or doubts you may have.  I will also draw your attention to the websites of the services, as well as that of the UPSC.  These are as follows:

  • Indian Army –
  • Indian Navy –
  • Indian Air Force –
  • UPSC –

Meanwhile, stay indoors, stay safe.   And if you wish, do light a diya, a candle or, a torch at 9.00PM tonight, as suggested by the Prime Minister.  I believe that the effects of a community activity, willingly participated in, go beyond the immediate and the obvious!

Hoping to meet again sooner rather than later, what with everybody having more time on their hands!!




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