The National Cadet Corps and the IAF

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1. Wg Cdr Ghanshyam Mitra (13141) – 16 Nov 1994 – Glider – 1 Bengal NCC Air Squadron – Kolkata – Fatal Accident
2. Gp Capt GS Baweja (15030) – 9 June 2002 – Glider – Group Commander, Madras flying a Glider from 1 TN Air Sqn – Fatal accident
3. Gp Capt GS Cheema (21577) – 24 Feb 2020 – Pipistrel Virus SW80 – 3 Punjab NCC Air Sqn – Fatal Accident. Co-pilot survived with grievous injuries.


1. Air Cmde Bir Inder Singh (5040) – AVSM – 1985 – Director, Karnataka Dte: Air Commodore Bir Inder Singh VM (5040) Flying (Pilot) was commissioned in the Air Force in January 1956. He has over 4400 hours to his credit. He actively participated in both wars with Pakistan. He was the Director of NCC Directorate of Karnataka and Goa for a year w.e.f, Apr 83. Within this short period, he has been able to achieve the following outstanding results: He personally supervised the camp training for the competitions which were to be held for the Prime Minister’s Championship Banner and ensured that selection of cadets was based purely on merit. He personally selected and trained Air Wing cadets for the competition at all India lelvel. A girl cadet from his Directorate won the Gold Medal and a boy cadet the Silver Medal during the Prime Minister’s Rally Championship Banner in Jan 84. From his Directorate maximum number of cadets were selected for participants in the Republic Day as well as Guard of Honour contingents. The standard of drill achieved by Karnataka & Goa contingent was exceptionally good. During the All India Level camps held at Gurgaon and Ghaziabad for boys and girls respectively, cadets from Karnataka & Goa Directorate stood first in all the competitions which counted towards the Prime Minister’s Championship Banner. In November 1983, due to his initiative, 750 NCC cadets participated in traffic duties during the CHOGM (Commonwealth Head of Government Meet) at Goa. Further, 17 cadets were trained as guides who helped the wives of the Heads of States during their stay at Goa. He volunteered to undertake all Hand Gliding training for the basic as well as advanced stage in his Directorate. A comprehensive case for introduction of Hand Gliding in NCC organization prepared by him is with the Government. Besides he also introduced windsurfing in his Directorate. He was able to achieve exceptionally good rapport with the Karnataka State Government. The Chief Minister was so impressed by him that he went out of his way to sanction incentives for the NCC cadets which have proved to be a tremendous motivating factor. Further the State Government, at his persuasion, in actively considering the reservation of seats for NCC cadets in Home Guards, Forest, Police, Education and Fire Services Department in addition to allotting a certain quota for admission to the Post Graduate and MBA Courses. As a result of his visits to various universities, the Vice Chancellor of Mysore University has agreed to introduce the NCC as an integral part of the curricular in some of the selected colleges on trial basis from the next academic session onwards. Air Commodore Bir Inder Singh VM has, thus, rendered distinguished service of an exceptional order.

2. Sqn Ldr KB Singh (5865) – VM – 1974 – CO, 1 Delhi Air Sqn: Squadron Leader Krishna Bihari Singh has been in command of No. 1 (Delhi) Air Squadron NCC since January, 1971. He was selected as the manager/pilot of DG NCC Gliding team for the first National Gliding Championship held at Kanpur in April-May 1973. All competing pilots had to be holders of Gold ‘C’ Distance Leg Badge which meant performance of a cross country of 300 kilometres. Squadron Leader Krishna Bihari Singh had no experience in glider cross country flying. He took up the challenge to fulfill this condition so that the DG NCC team could participate in the National Championship. He was provided with an Olympia glider which was made airworthy on 20th April, 1973. With barely a week in hand he set about this task in an earnest manner. His attempts at 300 kilometres cross country were unsuccessful on 20th & 21st April due to inclement weather. On the 22nd April, 1973 he was struggling from 1100 hours to gain enough height to set course for Kanpur, a distance of 390 kilometres, but weather conditions were unfavourable. Finally in a daring move he set course from a low height of only 2600 feet and at a very late hour of the day. He was down to a height of 1400 feet over Tilpat Range but managed to continue soaring with skill and determination. After covering a distance of 285 kilometres, he was forced to land short of Kanpur due to poor thermal activity and failing light. He was retrieved to Kanpur the next day by the ground party. After one more unsuccessful attempt, he finally completed a distance of 306 kilometres from Kanpur to Varanasi on the 27th April, 1973 and thus earned a Gold ‘C’ Distance Badge of the Federation Aironautique Internationale for himself and paved the way for the entry of the DG NCC team into the Championship. He is the first in the NCC to earn this distinction. During the Championship he was flying an Olympia glider (1947 manufacture) with a glide ratio of 1:18 against modern high performance sailplanes with glide ratios of 1:28 to 1:36. He was competing against veteran glider pilots of the country with far more experienced than him. In spite of these handicaps, he succeeded in securing 4th position amongst 11 participants at the National level. Squadron Leader Krishna Bihari Singh thus displayed courage, determination, professional skill and devotion to duty in the best traditions of the Air Force.

3. Sqn Ldr KB Singh (5865) – VSM – 1973 – CO, 1 Delhi Air Sqn: Squadron Leader Krishna Bihari Singh as NCC Examiner standardized glider training in the NCC. Under his command his NCC squadron was adjudged the best Air Wing Squadron (Flying/gliding) and won both the CAS Silver Trophy and Subroto Air Trophy for the year 71-72. Awarded Vishisht Seva Medal for his selfless devotion to service and qualities of leadership of a high order.

4. Wg Cdr Surendra Sawhney (8141) – VM – 1986 – DD (Air), DG NCC: Wing Commander Surinder Sawhney was commissioned on 31 Dec 63 in the Flying Branch of the IAF. He has been posted to the Directorate General National Cadet Corps as Deputy Director (Air) since Dec 81. His duties include supervision of gliding, flying, Aero­adventure activities, other training activities and coordination of maintenance, repair and provisioning of new gliders and other aviation equipment in the 54 NCC Air Wing Squadrons throughout the country. During his tenure in the NCC, Wg Cdr Sawhney with his high level of initiative, consistent application and dedicated hard work has been able to achieve many noteworthy milestones of which the main ones are firstly; revision and updating of gliding Standard Operating Procedures and admin instructions for National Cadet Corps/National Defence Academy issued 10 years earlier; secondly, achievement of 75% serviceability state on gliders which are more than 20 years old through excellent planning of repair programme and effective monitoring; thirdly 64,300 launches of gliders in one year, the highest in the history of the NCC; fourthly, reducing the accident rate from 7 to 3, the lowest accident rate in 10 year; fifthly has personally planned and safely executed four Air Shows on gliders in Delhi including for the first time formation of aerobatics display during the IAF Golden Jubilee and sixthly working out modernization plan of gliders and winches into the NCC Air Sqns which includes induction of new gliders at present and planning the future induction upto 1990. Among the gliders planned for induction into the NCC is the, new Microlight aircraft. During a demonstration flight of Microlight aircraft on 27 Jan 84 in the PM’s NCC Rally over the Army Parade Ground, the propeller of the aircraft bloke at a height of 50 feet resulting in severe vibrations and the machine getting almost out of control. In this situation of grave emergency, Wg Cdr Sawhney fully aware of the presence of distinguished audience consisting of PM, RM, RRM, Services Chiefs and many other Foreign dignitaries displayed exceptional professionalism and landed the aircraft safely. The emergency and the landing was handled and executed with such professional coolness that the grave emergency, which could have resulted in a grave disaster, came to light much later and was specifically appreciated by the distinguished members of the audience. This act of Wg Cdr Sawhney not only saved a valuable aircraft and a near disaster but was a great morale booster for the young cadets from throughout India who were watching the display. Wg Cdr Sawhney, through his personal contribution and single minded dedication, has done yeoman services in pioneering this aero-sport into India, which has motivated a lot of young students to enter the aviation wing of the NCC and the IAF. The sustained hard work put in by Wg Cdr Sawhney and his exceptional handling of the emergency in the air have been in the highest traditions of the NCC and the IAF. For Wg Cdr Sawhney’s exceptional initiative, devotion, professional skill, leadership and airmanship qualities displayed in the air wing of to NCC, the President is pleased to award him the Vayu Sena Medal.

5. Wg Cdr KS Rana (12534) – VSM – 1986 – CO, No.1 Delhi Air Sqn: Group Captain Kuldip Singh Rana was commissioned on 19 December 1970, as a pilot in the flying branch. He has been Flight Commander (Flt Cdr) of two Canberra Squadrons (Sqns). The officer has also commanded a Canberra unit. He has 5000 hours of accident free flying. Gp Capt KS Rana took over Command of No. 1 Delhi Air Sqn NCC on 31 August, 1992. Within a short period, using his immense motivational skills and personal example, he was able to substantially improve the administrative functions of the unit. Gp Capt Rana was not satisfied with the quality and quantum of the gliding effort. He, therefore, completed his own glider conversion in the shortest possible time and got actively involved in the gliding training. Totally unmindful of his personal comfort and inconvenience, Gp Capt Rana plunged head long into the task of restoring the operational and administrative credibility of the unit. It is entirely due to his sustained hard work that the Sqn was able to achieve 4059 glider launches in 1992-93 and 4112 launches in 1993-94. The officer also converted to microlight aircraft. During All India Vayu Sainik Camp (AIVSC) 93, flying from dawn to dusk, he completed air experience sorties of 500 cadets in seven days. During this period he also twice handled serious emergencies by landing the microlight ac safely after engine failure in the air. His unit was adjudged as the best Air Sqn in NCC at the Prime Minister’s Rally 1995. For distinguished service of high order the President is pleased to award ‘Vishisht Seva Medal’ to Gp Capt Kuldip Singh Rana.

6. JWO Sripati Debnath – VSM – 1997 – 2 TN Air Sqn: Junior Warrant Officer Debnath is on the posted strength of 2(TN) Air Squadron NCC, since 18 May 92, as Chief Technical Officer of the unit. During his tenure, the unit exceeded 4000 Launches of gliding per year for two years in a row. He was instrumental in maintaining the high state of serviceability resulting in all Gliders flying on the same day. His excellent supervision ensured 100% safe flying. With excellent time management and deft handling of varied schedules of gliding, he completed the task for each day. His own professional competence has been par Excellence. Be it snag rectification or servicing of gliding equipment, JWO Debnath could always be the man to rely upon. With careful management of his subordinates, he ensured timely and successful completion of all jobs. Due to his selfless devotion to service, JWO Debnath has been the key person responsible for the laurels achieved by the unit. For distinguished services of a high order, the President is pleased to award ‘Vishisht Seva Medal’ to JWO S Debnath.

7. Wg Cdr MK Sharma (24675) – VSM – 2018 – 51 Assam Air (Tech) Sqn: Wing Commander Manoj Kumar Sharma (24675-T) AE(L) was commissioned into the technical branch of the Indian Air Force on 26 May 97. He is currently the Commanding Officer of 51 Assam Air (Technical) Squadron NCC, which is primarily entrusted with the responsibility of training cadets of Assam and two districts of Arunachal Pradesh. During his career, Wing Commander Manoj Kumar Sharma tenanted various field appointments including as an instructor at No. 8 RADAR TETTRA School, Flight Commander (RADAR) at Air Force Station Tuglakabad, STO of Guided Weapon and Radar units and Chief Engineering Officer at an Air Force Base. He is a qualified “Operational cum Maintenance crew” in “Surface to Air Guided Weapons” as Guidance Officer and Battery Commander. The officer had played a key role in the induction of the new ‘Rohini’ Radar by utilising his experience as a Senior Technical Officer. He is also trained in Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. As CO, Assam NCC, he has been entrusted with the responsibilities of training of NCC Cadets of not only Assam but also remotely located areas of Arunachal Pradesh. His inspirational leadership, selfless diligence and humane dealings have given a new direction and impetus to the Unit, otherwise constrained on many fronts due to multiple functional and administrative controls. The initiative and acumen displayed by him in bringing about symbiotic co-operation with civil administration, Institute faculties for grooming the NCC Cadets has been commendable. He has been instrumental in promoting “Digital India” concept and cashless transactions in the unit and amongst the NCC cadets thereby ensuring transparency. He has brought about automation in the unit functioning and has been instructing the NCC cadets with lectures by distinguished guests. He has brought about a radical transformation in the outlook, mindset and level of fulfillment in the minds of the faculty and cadets of the North East, which is truly praiseworthy. He has undertaken a number of Social service and Community development awareness campaigns in his area of responsibility by greater participation of cadets, civilian and Govt establishments, which has contributed in its own way of the integration of Indian Armed Forces with the people of North East. Under his visionary leadership, foresight and meticulous planning, all tasks and challenges were handled in a proactive fashion thereby delivering sterling results. For distinguished service of high order Hon’ble President is pleased to award, Vishisht Seva Medal to Wing Commander Manoj Kumar Sharma.

1. Brig. M. M. Sharma – The National Cadet Corps of India, 1980
2. Public Accounts Committee Reports, Parliament of India – 1960-1970
3. Cadets Handbook and RTI document, DG NCC and state and unit websites
4. V Longer: Youth in Step: History of the National Cadet Corps, 1983
5. Ministry of Defence Annual Reports
6. Military year Books
7. State Gazettes and Education department annual reports

© 2021 – Anchit Gupta 

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