The National Cadet Corps and the IAF

In this research piece by Anchit Gupta , the author untangles the history of the Indian Air Force's heavy involvement with the National Cadet Corps starting in the 1950s


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Linking the youth early on to the armed forces has been a desired objective since the early 1920s when the University Corps was formed. The Indian Air Force got involved in this when the Indian Air Training Corps (IATC) was set up at Aligarh University in 1943 and then rapidly expanded over the next few years. The IAF spared no effort in providing as much support and officers to IATC as feasible. However, IATC was found wanting in many ways, notably as highlighted by then Group Captain Aspy Engineer in 1946 who lamented that very few from IATC had succeeded in obtaining commissions as officers. IATC was suspended in October 1947 and disbanded thereafter. After two years of intense deliberations to overcome the limitations of the previous organisation, NCC was formed by an act of the parliament on 15 July 1948. Initially, it had a two-tier structure – HQ in Delhi and units in various places across the country that were controlled directly by the HQ. In September 1949, a three-tier administration was introduced. An HQ in Delhi, Circle HQ in various provinces (States), and units in specific cities. In 1963-64, a fourth tier was added to this in the form of Group HQ between a circle and units. The nomenclature for these HQs, units, location, boundaries, and appointments kept changing continuously mirroring the states and districts of the country on one hand and the up-gradation of ranks and appointments across services on the other hand. As an inter-service organisation, its personnel are appointed from all three services. As of today, NCC has 17 Directorates (a modern avatar of circles), 97 Groups and 825 units (Styled Battalions/ Units and Squadrons). Apart from running the Air Wing, Indian Air Force officers man about 15% of the overall appointments across NCC at various levels. NCC is a joint initiative of the Central Government, Armed Forces, and the state government and has employees from all these arms. It has an authorised strength of permanent cadre of officers at about 1,600 with nearly 1,100 of these from the services.

Air Wing

The Air Wing was formed in 1950 and currently comprises 62 flying and technical Squadrons. Besides the primary aim of NCC, the objective of the Air Wing training is to create an interest amongst the youth of the country in aviation. The academic syllabus is somewhat like Air Force academies and civil flying clubs. For practical training, glider flying was considered appropriate as the most economical way of reaching a wider population. Where NCC units were co-located with Civil flying clubs, some powered aircraft experience was also provided. In recent years, gliders have given way to microlights. NCC, including the Air Wing, is not meant to train cadets specifically for employment in the Air Force, but a few cadets every year are selected for commissioned service in the IAF. A motley staff at HQ, NCC devises training curriculum, manages staffing requirements and logistics. The actual activity is carried out by “squadrons” who are styled similar to the Indian Air Force. The authorised strength of cadets in the Air Wing is roughly 12,000. Glider training was introduced in the Air Wing in 1955 and is only for senior wing cadets. No. 6 (UP) Air Squadron at Kanpur was the first unit to receive one.

The NCC Air Wing though has performed below expectations due to a host of reasons, not entirely in its control. Infrastructure shortages (Hangar facilities, runway access) are under the control of the state governments have seen major delays. Availability of gliders was poor to negligible for the most part of the last 60 years. To support gliding, IAF ordered nearly 300 gliders from HAL in 1964, of which only 57 were delivered even 5 years after the due date. All told between 1952 and 1966, the IAF acquired 91 Gliders for NCC (66 Rohini and 25 T-21B Sedberg). By the late 70s, nearly half the fleet was unavailable due to fatigue, accidents, unserviceability, restrictions placed on the import and financial constraints. IAF kept waiting for the replacement glider which only came about in 1985 and that too in small quantities again. Compounding the issue was a shortage of air force pilots (due to the 62 war) and unattractive pay scales for civilian gliding instructors. Many NCC Air Squadrons went through long periods as non-flying units. Eventually, such conditions discourage motivated IAF officers to seek postings to NCC units, as was the norm in the 1950s and 1960s, further leading to the poor state of NCC Air Wing. As Air Marshal Raghvendran terms NCC in his autobiography as “the graveyard of dumped aviators”.

HQ NCC

HQ NCC when formed was headed by a Director, Colonel rank officer with a small HQ staff namely a deputy Director (Lt. Col.), Staff Officer (Air), Staff Officer (Lady) and Staff Officer (Navy). The first Director was Col. GG Bewoor. Between 1948 and 1962 as the organisation grew rapidly across all dimensions necessitating augmentation of the staff and upgradation of the post. The Director post was upgraded to a Director General, headed by a Major General and assisted by a Deputy Director General that was shared in rotation by IAF and Navy. The HQ had staff to assist with Training, Personnel and other functions akin to a military HQ. By the late 1960s two DDG posts were created and the responsibilities of managing the regional setup and HQ staff was distributed between two. The additional DDG post was reserved for an Army officer. By 1988, these posts were upgraded to Additional Director Generals (A and B) and the system continues to date. Since 1948 IAF officer of the rank of Group Captain, Air Commodore and finally AVM has rotated in the DDG/ ADG post representing the highest office that an IAF officer can have in the NCC Org.

The HQ staff has another 20 officers running various functions of the HQ including five Brigadier level DDGs. Some appointments in the HQ staff are also earmarked for IAF officers – namely Deputy Director General (DDG) for Planning and Coordination in the rank of Air Commodore. Also an in charge for Air Wing and a GSO1 for training (Air), both in the rank of Group Captain.

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The first IAF officer ever to hold an appointment at NCC was Flt. Lt Sarangapani Srinivasan (1900 GD(P)), earlier an Observer commissioned in 1942. He was posted in on 25 August 1949 as Staff Officer (Air) and held the post till 3 July 1950. He was replaced by Sqn Ldr Phiroz Mehta (1715) till 19 August 1951, followed by Sqn Ldr PN Sanyal (1682). This post was subsequently renamed and upgraded to Deputy Director (Air) in the 1970s. In due course, the DD (Air) was assisted by an AD from flying branch and Technical branch each. An incomplete list of IAF officers who held positions at HQ NCC are mentioned in Appendix A.

Circle HQ/ Directorates NCC

In 1948, though the NCC HQ had been setup, no organisation was laid out in the provided. To put this un order, the committee approved formation of eight circles in September 1949 for control, co-ordination and working of the NCC in the princely states and provinces. A Circle was a geographical region, styled like provinces and states and all the individual NCC units within these circles were under the control of the Circle commander who initially was of the rank of Lt. Col.

The circles were named numerically such as No. 1 NCC Circle, No. 2 NCC Circle and so on. By 1955, there were 16 Circles spanning the country, though due to reorganization of states they reduced to 14 thereafter. In Nov 1962, just as NCC HQ in Delhi was redesignated as Directorate General, the circles were renamed as Directorates. As of now, there are 17 Directorates, the only additional one to come up post 1960 is Uttarakhand in 2006. The Circle commander was initial redesignated as Director and that nomenclature gave way to Deputy Director General (DDG) by the 1980s equivalent to a Brigadier. Most of the DDG positions have been upgraded to ADG under a Major General officer since 2000. A Circle HQ/ Directorate is staffed similar to the HQ with a deputy Director of a rank lower than the Director and other officers for personnel/ planning and training.

The current organogram at a typical HQ Directorate is attached below. The Director (reporting to the DDG) is 2nd in command at the Directorate and used to be designated a Deputy Director till the early 1980s. Thereafter the post was upgraded to a Colonel equivalent with the designation of a Director. In Directorates that are now commanded by a ADG level officer, the 2nd in command has got upgraded to a DDG in the rank of Brigadier or equivalent.

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The First IAF Circle commander was then Wg. Cdr. C Satyanarana (1610) took over 2 (Madras) Circle in 1953 which controlled all of the southern Peninsula at that time. In 1955, IAF officer was given command of No. 15 Circle (PEPSU, HP and J&K). However, this was short-lived as the Circle was dissolved in November 1956.

In the 13th Circle Commanders conference held in 1957, it was announced that 10 of the 14 circles at that time would have an Army Commander, two each from IAF and Navy. Two Circle/ Directorates were put under IAF officers command in the 1950s. IAF was thereafter asked to take control of No. 7 (Delhi) Circle and No. 10 (Bangalore) Circle. By 1959-60, as circles increased to sixteen, IAF officers were to command three Circles – No. 10 (Mysore), No. 12 (Andhra) and No. 14 (Rajasthan). This arrangement has remained to date with Air Commodore rank vacancies.

Following the same logic, the 2nd in the command post at a Directorate (Deputy Director/ Director) in the rank of Wg Cdr/ Gp Capt was also offered to the IAF. It is unclear how this evolved in the early years but since the 1960s it seems Directorates of Gujarat, West Bengal and Orissa are with IAF Officers. An incomplete list of IAF Officers who have served in Circles/ Directorates is mentioned in Appendix B.

An abridged historical evolution of the 17 directorates is as follows:

1. Maharashtra Dte (HQ Mumbai): No. 1 NCC Circle (Bombay and Saurashtra) with its HQ at Bombay/ Mumbai was formed on 25 Oct 1945 and continued till 24 March 1955 before being renamed No. 1 NCC Circle Bombay from 24 March 1955 to 30 April 1960. On bifurcation of Bombay into Maharashtra and Gujarat, it was renamed as No. 1 Circle Maharashtra from 1 May 1960 to 25 Oct 1962 and has been called NCC Maharashtra Directorate since 26 Oct 1962. The Directorate has 7 Group Headquarters and 59 units. The Directorate has three flying Air Squadrons based at Mumbai, Nagpur and Pune, all of them formed between 1950 and 1960 and can claim to be the oldest NCC Air Wing.

2. Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Andaman & Nicobar Dte (HQ Chennai): This was formed originally as No. 2 NCC Circle Madras and had coverage of the entire southern peninsula. Karnataka was segregated in 1953, Kerala and Andhra in 1955. Andaman was added to its coverage in 1987. The Directorate has 6 Group Headquarters and 59 major / minor units. The Directorate has three flying Air Squadrons based at Chennai, Coimbatore and Pondicherry and three technical Air Squadrons at Chennai, Salem and Trichy.

3. Madhya Pradesh & Chattishgarh Dte (HQ Bhopal): No. 3 NCC Circle (Madhya Pradesh and Hyderabad) was raised on 24 Jan 1950 at Nagpur. The HQ was moved to Kamptee in 1952 and Indore in 1957 and to Bhopal on 22 Sep 1976.. The circle was redesignated as Directorate of Madhya Pradesh in 1963 and Chattisgarh was added to its name on formation of the state. The Directorate has two flying Air Squadrons based at Bhopal and Indore, both formed between 1958 and 1960.

4. West Bengal & Sikkim Dte (HQ Kolkata): No. 4 NCC Circle (West Bengal, Orissa & Assam) was formed in 1950 to control units in West Bengal and Orrisa with HQ in Calcutta. In Nov 1962 the Union Territory of Andamans and Nicobar came in the fold of NCC and was placed under this circle. In 1976 with the integration of Sikkim, that was placed under this Directorate as well. Over the years, Orissa and Assam became independent circles/directorates and Andaman and Nicobar was placed with Tamil Nadu Directorate on 31 March 1987. The circle was redesignated as Directorate in 1962. The Dte today has six groups and 52 units under its command including two technical Air Squadrons (Calcutta and Midnapur) and two flying Air Squadrons (Both at Calcutta).

5. Bihar and Jharkhand Dte (HQ Patna): NCC was introduced in Bihar in the year 1948. It was designated as No. 5 Circle (Bihar) with HQ at Patna in 1950. On 15 Jan 1963, the Circle was re-designated as NCC Directorate. From 1st August 1985 the post of Director was re-designated as Deputy Director General (DDG). The same was further re-designated as Additional Director General (ADG) with effect from 1st November 2000. Consequent to the formation of the State of Jharkhand, the Directorate has been renamed as NCC Directorate Bihar & Jharkhand with effect from 15th November 2000. The Directorate comprises of six groups with 50 NCC units under them. The Directorate has two flying Air Squadrons based at Patna and Ranchi.

6. Uttar Pradesh Dte (HQ Lucknow): No. 6 NCC Circle (Uttar Pradesh and Vindhya Pradesh) was raised on 17 Jan 1950 with its HQ at Lucknow. Circle was redesignated to Directorate in 1960. In 2001 the Dte was renamed as Uttar Pradesh and Uttrakhand on the formation of the new state. On 29 June 2006, 3 groups and 16 units were transferred to Uttrakhand Dte. The Dte is the largest in the country with 11 groups and 110 units and is now commanded by a Major General (ADG). The Directorate has four flying Air Squadrons based at Agra, Kanpur, Lucknow and Varanasi. One Flying Squadron formed at Pantnagar in around 1962 but disbanded in mid 1960s.

7. Delhi Dte (HQ Delhi): No. 7 NCC Circle was formed in Delhi in January 1950 at Delhi Cantt with overall control of Delhi, Ajmer, Rajasthan, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh. Ajmer and Rajasthan was carved out in 1954, Jammu and Kashmir in 1960 and Himachal Pradesh in July 1963 was transferred to Punjab Dte. Delhi Circle was redesignated as a Directorate in 1960 and the HQ moved to Red Fort soon after. It comprises of two groups and 19 units. The Directorate has two flying Air Squadrons based at Delhi with one of them dedicated for girls.

8. Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh Dte (HQ Chandigarh): No. 8 NCC Circle (Punjab, PEPSU & Himachal Pradesh) was formed with its HQ at Simla in 1950. In 1955 PEPSU, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir was placed under the control of No. 15 Circle at Patiala and No. 8 Circle was in control of Punjab. On 1 Nov 1956, PEPSU was merged into Punjab and No. 15 Circle seized to exist (It would come up later in 1960). Control of HP and J&K was placed with No. 7 Circle (Delhi). Also in 1956, the Circle HQ was shifted to Chandigarh. In 1964, the Circle HQ was converted into NCC Dte Punjab commanded by a Director NCC of the rank of Brig. On 1st Jul 1964, the jurisdiction of NCC Dte Punjab was extended to the State of Himachal Pradesh (HP) and the Directorate was re- designated as NCC Directorate Punjab & HP. On 01 Nov 1966, consequent to re-organisation of Punjab State into Punjab, Haryana, HP States, and the Union Territory of Chandigarh, the designation of this Dte was changed to NCC Dte Punjab, Haryana, HP and Chandigarh (PHHP&C Dte). Punjab has 8 groups and 69 units under its command and is headed by a Major General (ADG rank) officer. No. 15 Circle (PEPSU) in its short-lived tenure of 18 months was under the command of IAF officers. The Dte now has eight Flying Air Squadrons at Kullu, Hisar, karnal, Chandigarh, Jalandhar, Amritsar, Patiala and Ludhiana making it the largest Dte from an Air Wing perspective.

9. North East Region (HQ Shillong): NCC Bns were raised for the State of Assam, Manipur & Tripura in the year 1948. In 1951, No. 9 NCC Circle (Assam and Tripura and Manipur came up with HQ at HQ Shillong. Post the Sino Indian conflict of 1962, NCC trg was made compulsory for the youth and in Sep 1970, the Dte was redesignated as NCC Dte Assam, Manipur, Tripura, Nagaland, NEFA and Meghalaya. Consequent to renaming of NEFA as Arunachal Pradesh and creation of a new Union Territory Mizoram, the Dte was redesignated as NCC Dte Assam, Manipur, Tripura, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram in Mar 1972. On 01 Sep 1977, the Dte was once again redesignated as NER (North East Region). There are 08 NCC Gp HQs and 47 NCC Units. The Directorate has three flying Air Squadrons based at Guwahati, Imphal and Dimapur and one technical Air Squadron at Jorhat.

10. Karnataka & Goa Dte (HQ Bangalore): Initially the region was controlled by No.2 Circle (Madras). In April 1953, No. 10 NCC Circle – Mysore, Coorg, Travancore-Cochin with HQ at Bangalore was setup. Travancore-Cochin was separated under a different circle in 1955 and Mysore/ Coorg was renamed as Karnataka in 1972 leading to renaming of the Directorate. The Directorate has 6 groups and 55 units. The Directorate is headed by an IAF officer and has Four flying Air Squadrons based at Bangalore, Belgaum, Mangalore, and Mysore and two technical Air Squadron at Bangalore and Bidar.

11. Kerala & Lakshadweep Dte (HQ Trivandrum): The first NCC Unit in Kerala was raised in the state of Travancore on 1 June 1949 and the state was under the control of No. 2 NCC Circle at Madras. In 1953, the control was passed to No. 10 Circle (Mysore) briefly. No. 16 NCC Circle (Travancore - Cochin) was carved out of No. 10 Circle with HQ at Trivandrum in May 1955. However, on 1 November 1956 on the formation of the state of Kerala combining Travancore-Cochin and few other districts, the Circle was disbanded. No. 11 Circle (Kerala) came up to take control of the region. The circle was upgraded to Directorate on 29 Nov 1962. The NCC Directorate (Ker & L) has 5 Group Headquarters and 42 NCC units. The Directorate has two flying Air Squadrons based at Trivandrum and Kochi.

12. Andhra Pradesh & Telangana Dte (HQ Hyderabad): NCC was instituted in Andhra Pradesh in May 1949 when it was a part of the erstwhile composite Madras State. In 1955, on re-organisation of the State, the existing NCC units were placed under an independent NCC Circle HQ for the new State of Andhra Pradesh as No. 12 Circle (Andhra Pradesh). The HQ was located at Guntur when it was formed and shifted to Hyderabad on 21 Dec 1956. The Circle was re-designated as Directorate in 1962 with an Air Commodore as its Director. The Director’s post was re-designated as Deputy Director General in Aug 1985. The Directorate has been redesignated as NCC Directorate (AP&T) in Mar 2015 after bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh State into Andhra Pradesh & Telangana has 9 Groups & 69 Units. The Directorate is headed by an IAF officer has four flying Air Squadrons based at Secunderabad, Vijaywada, Vishakapatnam and Warangal and two Technical Air Squadrons at Kakinada, Secunderabad and Tirupati.

13. Odisha Dte (HQ Bhuvaneshwar): No. 13 NCC Circle Orissa was formed in 1955 with its HQ at Cuttack by carving out Orissa from the No. 4 Circle. The circle was redesignated as Directorate in 1962 and moved its HQ to Bhuvaneshwar in 1968. The directorate has three groups and 28 units under its command. The Dte has two Flying Air Squadron at Bhuwaneshwar and Jharsuguda..

14. Rajasthan Dte (HQ Jaipur): NCC was started in 1949 with only three NCC Units, one each at Jaipur, Udaipur and Jodhpur reporting to No. 7 Circle (Delhi). In 1954 No. 14 Circle (Rajasthan) was raised at Jaipur. In January 1963, the Circle Headquarters was redesignated as Directorate. It has four Group Headquarters and 36 units. The Dte is headed by an IAF Officer and has four flying Air Squadrons at Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur and Kota.

15. Gujarat Dte (HQ Ahmedabad): No. 11 Circle (Saurashtra and Kutch) was formed on 25 March 1955 with Jamnagar as HQ on bifurcation with No. 1 Circle (Bombay). However, No. 11 Circle seized to exist on 1 November 1956 when Saurashtra merged back with Bombay state. (No. 11 Circle was put put in control of Kerala) The State of Gujarat emerged from the former Greater Bombay State on 01 May 1960. Consequently, No. 1 Circle (Bombay) was re-organised into 1 & 15 Circle with the latter located at Ahmedabad. On 04 Feb 1963, the designation of Circle Commander changed to Director Cadet Corps, and the office renamed as Directorate Gujarat. On 28 Feb 1963, Union Territories of Dadra Nagar Haveli, Diu & Daman were merged with the directorate. The Directorate has 5 groups and 43 units including three flying Air Squadrons at Vadodara, Ahmedabad and Bhavnagar.

16. Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh Dte (HQ Srinagar): NCC in J&K was raised in the year 1954 and was initially placed under the control of No. 15 Circle (PEPSU, HP and J&K) between 1955 and Nov 1956. On the disbandment of No. 15 Circle, the control was passed to No. 7 Circle (Delhi). On 22 October 1960 it was created as an independent circle as No. 16 NCC Circle (Jammu & Kashmir) with its HQ at Srinagar and upgraded to Directorate subsequently. In 1982, the post of director was upgraded to Brigadier and in 1985 it was redesignated as Dy Director General (DDG) NCC. Subsequently, it was upgraded to Additional Director General (ADG) NCC in Jun 2012. Now J&K Dte is redesignated as NCC Dte JK&L after bifurcation of State of Jammu Kashmir in two union territories namely Jammu Kashmir and Ladakh. The Dte has two group HQs, with a total of 11 NCC Units. The Dte had a flying air Squadron based at Srinagar but seems to have been disbanded.

17. Uttrakhand Dte (HQ Dehradun): Consequent to the formation of Uttarakhand State, NCC Dte Uttarakhand was raised at Dehradun on 08 Aug 2006. Command was upgraded to a Major General as ADG wef 14 October 2012. The Dte comprises three Gp HQ and 18 units. The Dte has a flying air Squadron based at Pantnagar formed in 2008. Pantnagar had earlier been the base for an air squadron in the 1960s.

An incomplete list of IAF officers who held positions at Circles/ Directorates are mentioned in Appendix B.

Group HQs

As the number of NCC units expanded phenomenally between 1954 and 1962, it became difficult for Circle HQ to keep control directly and in 1963-64, a span breaker in the form of group HQ was introduced.

Initially, eight NCC “Station Headquarters” were setup in 1961 and seven NCC units were grouped under each of these station HQ. The Command of one of these seven NCC units was upgraded to Lt. Col and that unit CO was placed in dual command of the unit and the station HQ. The station HQ was later renamed Group HQ. In 1965, the Group commanders were placed in overall command of the Groups and relieved of the command of their own units. Initially NCC had nearly 138 Groups, that came down to about 90 later.
The Group HQ was commanded by a Lt Col/ Col rank and in recent years even Brigadiers who are designated as “Group Commanders” and report to the Head of the Directorate. Each Group will have 2-10 units under its command of NCC Battalions, NCC Air Force Squadrons and NCC Naval Units. The groups are named after the city in which the Group HQ resides. A Group HQ staff will have an administrative officer and a training officer in the ranks of Lieutenant Colonel/ Major. In all 95 groups exist across the country and 6 of them are commanded by IAF officers -Nagpur, Madras B, Delhi C, Bombay B, Varanasi and Behrampur.

An incomplete list of IAF officers who held positions at Groups are mentioned in Appendix C.

Units

Each squadron imparts to cadets training in drill, P.T., organisation administration, citizenship, first aid, weapon training, principles of flight navigation, meteorology, aeroengines, aero - modelling, gliding, powered flying. In the Technical Air Squadron special emphasis is laid on technical subjects such as tele - communications, radio, and radar systems.

Each Squadron is headed by Commanding Officers (CO) and has a Civilian Gliding Instructor who functions as a flight commander. In the early years of NCC, IAF deputed commissioned officers as Gliding instructors too. In addition, airmen are given the responsibility to function as technical support. Some units have an Administrative Officer (AO) OR a Whole Time Lady Officer (WTLO). A flying branch officer in the rank of Wg Cdr/ Gp Capt is the CO of flying squadrons and a technical branch officer is the CO for Technical squadrons. The squadrons were originally commanded by Squadron leaders but the post was upgraded during the cadre review of 1982.

The first two IAF Air Squadrons were formed on 1 April 1950 at Bombay and Calcutta and the commanding officers were Flight Lieutenant HR Chitnis (2964) (Later Air Marshal) and Flight Lieutenant NK Sarker (2859) respectively. A comprehensive list of all NCC Air Squadrons, its brief history, and incomplete listing of commanding officers are mentioned in Appendix D.

Direct Entry into IAF

It was in 1954 that the Chief of Air Staff extended some concessions that opened the IAF to direct entry of NCC Cadets. He removed the condition that made it obligatory for NCC cadets to have a Pilots Air Wing “A” Licence for grant of commission. He also reserved about 10% vacancies in the officer cadre for cadets of the Air Wing NCC who have the requisite qualification (Certificate C). These cadets need to meet the age and education criteria in addition to the NCC certification and can apply for addition to AFA directly without the need for a competitive exam. Soon thereafter, Air Vice Marshal TNB “Boondi” Shankar (5060) was the first NCC cadet to be commissioned in the IAF as a direct entry cadet in 1955. His Coursemate from 67th PC, Sqn Ldr FN Kapadia was the other officer. From the 69th PC, average of 4 NCC cadets were getting commissioned in the IAF via the direct entry. Since 2017, girls can also join via the direct entry route.

Many NCC cadets joined IAF through the regular entry route and cannot be tracked separately. Some of the NCC cadets, who later became IAF officers share their thoughts

a. Sqn Ldr OP Sikka (7409) - I joined Holkar College Indore MP in 1959 - primarily it had NCC Air Wing. It was known as 16 MP NCC Air Wing. My CO was Sqn Ldr ED Venner. Staff beside CO consisted of one Warrant Officer and 2/3 SNCO’s. It was housed in private bungalow belonging to Cricketer Mushtaq Ali who was also living there. Initial batches consisted of very enthusiastic boys. We were required to come on Saturday and Sundays. It was primarily for drill and aero modelling. We were kitted with blue cotton full sleeve shirt, pant, belt and black shoes. At the end of day we were given allowance of 12 Annas to buy some refreshment and kit maintenance. We were also sent for Republic Day parade and for that there was selection on state level. Our training was quite on pattern of IAF and drill master were very strict. There was weapon training and were required to clean 303 occasionally. Our batch was first to go for power flying. It was on Tiger Moth at Indore Flying Club. After Solo we became eligible for wing. 16 MP NCC Air Wing has given quite a few bright officers to IAF who got decorated and rose to Air ranks. Notably among our group - Harish Masand.

b. Air Cmde SL Sharma (12804): I have been an NCC ( Air Wing) cadet during my school and college days at Pilani. I am very grateful to my NCC training and NCC officers for whatever I achieved in my career. I will be always thankful to Our CO Sqn Ldr/ Wg Cdr Narendra Singh ( No.3 Air Sqn NCC, Pilani) for guidance as a fatherly figure to choose a right career.

Summary

Outside-in estimate of the authorised strength of IAF officers above the rank of Wg Cdr in NCC organisation currently seems to be around 100. Several IAF officers were also awarded, specifically for tenures with the NCC. A list of those awards and citations are attached as Appendix F. NCC operations have also had its share of fatal accidents, a list of those is attached as Appendix E.

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