The Indian Military Academy (IMA) in Dehradun celebrated its platinum jubilee in December with fanfare, and deservingly so. The extensive media coverage of this milestone, however, pushed to the background the golden jubilee celebrations of an illustrious group of officers who graduated on December 15, 1957. This batch has the proud record of producing a Union minister and, perhaps, the maximum number of Lieutenant Generals and Flag Officers. A member of this batch could have also become the Chief of the Army Staff, but was denied the honour by a quirk of fate.
Members of the batch also did well post-retirement: two of its officers went on to head defence think tanks. The gruelling four-year training at the NDA and IMA is behind the success of these officers. The cadets were not only given weapons and physical training, but stress was given on humbler jobs like grass cutting and cleaning the barrack area.
But, perhaps, the biggest con job that the army was able to pull off was that it managed to educate us through training programmes. And, this continued till the end of our army careers. By the time we were in mid-40s, some of us had won MSc degrees and some even managed doctorates. This was not an easy job considering that some of us had joined the services for adventure, sports and glamour; higher studies were never our priority. How was this achieved? Nothing in the Services was easy or gratis: promotions were competitive and everyone had to keep moving with the momentum that the professional environment of the Services generated. Despite the wars and field service stints, the training and education continued.
The training establishments not only helped imparting knowledge related on the art of warfare and technology but also on economics, political science, international affairs and a host of other subjects. The Army has the training infrastructure to create intellectual warrior-leaders. This, dear readers, was the primary reason behind the success of the class of 1957.