IMA is 80 today

Dehra Dun : The Indian Military Academy (IMA), which is not the country’s premier training institute for the army, but has made its mark and made its presence felt the world over, became 80 today, with a grand parade at the Chetwode Square.

This the very square from which 50,822 cadets of the country have passed out to become proud officers of the Indian Army. Incidentally, besides these Indian officers, there have been 1397 gentleman cadets from 30 friendly countries, who have also taken training from this premier institute.

The first batch that passed out from the Academy comprised a mere 40 cadets, who called themselves the ‘Pioneers’ as compared to the 600 cadets that pass out of every batch. It has been a long haul for the Institute which has also changed in character and size as the number of cadets increased over the years.

Sam Manekshaw

Incidentally, the first batch of cadets that came to the Academy in 1932 for training comprised of Sam Manekshaw, who rose to become the Chief of Army Staff and also the second Field Marshal after Cariappa in the Indian Army. Then there was Mohammed Musa who became Chief of the Pakistan Army and Smith Doon who rose to the top spot of the Burma army.

It is not a mere coincidence, but some of the top dictators of Pakistan also passed out from the hallowed drill squares of the IMA. Notable amongst them are Gen Yahya Khan who also became the third President of Pakistan, Gen Tikka Khan, Lt Gen Ghulam Zilani Khan, who was martial law administrator in Pakistan and Lt Gen Habibullah Khan.

This is not all about its alma maters. The first chief of Bangladesh Army Gen M A G Usmani was also trained at the IMA here and Tun Hussein of the 1940 batch became the third Prime Minister of Malaysia, while the chief of army staff of Malaysia in 1970, Ibrahim Bin Ismael also passed out from the drill square of the Academy.

Prior to the country getting independence, two officers who passed out from the Academy won the coveted Victoria Cross, while one won the George Cross and another the George Medal and there have been as many as 70 who were decorated with the Military Cross.

After independence, six of its officers have been decorated with the Param Vir Chakra, including Maj Somnath, Capt G S Salaria, 2nd Lt Arun Khetarpal, Maj Hoshiar Singh, Capt Vikram Batra and Capt Manoj Pandey. Besides there have been other winners 17 Ashok Chakras, 84 Mahavir Chakras, 48 Kirti Chakras, 257 Vir Chakras and 191 Shaurya Chakras.

For records sake, the first cadet to be selected was gentleman cadet G S Isaac, the first cadet to reach the newly established Academy was Makhan Singh, the cadet to reach last was gentleman cadet P C Bhagat, who was awarded the Victoria cross in the Second World War and the first cadet to get permission to visit Mussoorie was Sam Maneckshaw.

The cadet to command the first passing out parade at the Academy was Under Officer Smith Doon. It was on Nov 19, 1932 that King George Vth presented the King’s Colours to the Indian Military Academy. Thereafter it was on Dec 10 1962 that then President Dr S Radhakrishnan again presented Colours to the Academy, while its present Colours was presented by President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed on Dec 15 1976.

A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt is Editor Hill Post (Uttarakhand). Jagdish has worked with India's leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, Jagdish is a recipient of many awards, latest being the 2011 Development Journalism Award. He lives in Dehra Dun.

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