“NDA has not signed any MoU with University of Pune regarding BTech course for NDA cadets. Further, the NDA is not running any BTech course,” said the reply signed by A A Devikar, vice-principal and PIO, NDA, Khadakwasla. It is learnt the course was called off due to objections by Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) that awards BA and BSc degrees to NDA cadets. Engineering is a four-year course at UoP, whereas cadets spend three years at NDA after which they are sent to IMA Dehradun, INA Ezhimala and AFA Secunderabad.
Former NDA commandant Lt Gen Jatinder Singh had on May 23 told reporters, “NDA is planning to confer cadets having science and humanities background with Bachelor in Engineering with military specialisation, and Bachelor of Arts (Honours) from the University of Pune.”
Sources, however, said the BTech degree was made applicable in January itself and about 200 cadets per course (80 per cent of those joining) for the last two courses-127th course that joined in January and 128th course that joined in June-enrolled. It is learnt an agreement was reached between the UoP and NDA and there were plans to introduce specialised engineering courses in the third term of every batch.
The BTech degree was apparently withdrawn in October, before the third term of the 127th course. The NDA had also hired staff on contract for the BTech degree, though no information could be obtained whether they have been told to wind up.
The BTech degree at NDA is an old, and commandant-driven issue. The usual pattern, though there is no hard and fast rule is it gains momentum during the tenure of a commandant from the Navy, stays unmoved when the commandant is from the IAF and and is opposed during the tenure of commandant from the Army, sources say.
On March 3, the then acting UoP V-C Sanjay Chahande in an interview with The Indian Express had said, “This is the first such collaboration between UoP and NDA. So far the three-year bachelors degree programmes available for cadets were JNU-affiliated. The course has been approved by AICTE. Details of student intake, academic sessions, etc are to be finalised.” He was also quoted as saying that unlike other engineering programmes that have eight semesters, this programme will have six semesters, followed by one-year training.
An NDA official had also said, “It still has to be worked out what part of the engineering course will be done at NDA and at finishing academies or other institutions where cadets will get hands-on industry training.”
UoP does not seem to be in the loop about BTech being scrapped. UoP V-C W N Gade said, “The NDA had approached for an engineering degree course. The course is currently on at NDA. They also wanted to affiliate with us for a BA degree for which approval from the state is needed and for which an application has been sent to the state.” On being told about the RTI, Gade said, “The course is still on in the NDA.”
NDA on a low key
The NDA ball on November 19 was a low key affair, at least as far as the publicity and the call for entries was concerned. The otherwise widely publicised NDA expo, Tattoo show, convocation are yet not being talked about. Former commandant of the NDA Lt Gen Jatinder Singh is slated to retire this month. The Indian Express had reported that Lt Gen A K Singh took over as the NDA commadant in August after Lt Gen Jatinder Singh's early exit from the Academy following a C BI probe. It is learnt that the IAF commandant is likely to take over only by February-March 2013.