Down Memory lane: Vignettes of the Indian Military Academy

| | Dehradun
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Down Memory lane: Vignettes of the Indian Military Academy

Friday, 08 June 2018 | JASKIRAN CHOPRA | Dehradun

On Saturday, June 9, will be held the Passing Out Parade of the Indian Military Academy which is the pride of the nation and a special pride of the Doon valley.

The story of the Indian Military Academy (IMA) in the Doon valley which began in the month of September 1932 has moved through several dramatic twists and turns, touching many landmarks over the last nine decades and is being carried forward proudly by bright young Gentlemen Cadets (GCs) who enter the hallowed portals of the academy every year and pass out as officers of the great Indian Army, one of the best in the world.

  The IMA is an integral part of the Dehra Dun landscape and one cannot imagine the Doon valley without the historic Chetwode building which adds a unique glory to the city and makes it proud of the several generations of young men who have passed out as officers from the academy, serving the nation tirelessly. The IMA’s Gentlemen Cadets (GCs) become a cherished part of the city's heart when they are out in the markets and streets, relaxing on their days off. The hallowed Chetwode building forms a very important and picturesque part of the valley’s skyline.

The first batch (Pioneers) of Gentlemen Cadets, Sam Manekshaw among them, reported for duty on September 30, 1932.The seniormost cadet was G S Isaac whose number was 1 and the last was Shingar Singh, No 40. The academy became functional from October 1, 1932 with course strength of 40 Gentlemen Cadets. Brigadier l P Collins was the first Commandant. The first course had on its rolls Sam Manekshaw, Smith Dun and Mohd Musa. All of them later became the chiefs of the armies of their respective countries namely India, Burma and Pakistan. The course was christened “PIONEERS'.

The government acquired the estate of the erstwhile Railway College at Dehradun, which had the appropriate buildings and a fairly extensive campus to meet the requirements of the Academy .The IMA was inaugurated formally by Field Marshal Sir Philip Chetwode on December 10, 1932 after whom is named the “Chetwode Building” of the IMA, which is the academy’s heart and soul. It houses the Chetwode Hall which has a museum of the Indian Army.

The inaugural address by Chetwode was stirring and acquired immortality as a passage from his address has been adopted as the Credo of the Academy -"The safety, honour and welfare of your country come first, always and every time. The honour, welfare and comfort of the men you command come next. Your own ease, comfort and safety come last, always and every time."

 These historic words, inscribed in letters of gold inside the Chetwode Hall, echo in the heart of every officer of the Indian Army all his life even after he leaves the IMA.

 On the occasion  of the platinum jubilee passing out parade in 2007, it was a great honour for the IMA to have Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as the chief guest and reviewing officer at the parade. Singh turned 75 in the year in which the IMA did.  While Singh was born on 26 September in 1932, IMA also received its first batch in September of the same year. Describing the occasion as “a red letter day” for the IMA, the then PM  saluted the memory of all those great soldiers and officers who had “the honour and the privilege of earning their spurs in these portals”.

 Renowned poet and lyricist Javed Akhtar became part of the glorious history of the IMA as soon as young Gentlemen Cadets of the academy sang his “IMA Song” for the first time at a glittering ceremony at the Khetarpal Auditorium during the platinum jubilee.    The hall resounded with the words “Bharat Mata Teri Kasam, Tere Rakshak rahenge ham..Deewarein ham banenge maa, talwarein ham banenge maa..” as the IMA band played the music .“This will remain the most memorable achievement for me and I will never forget this evening,” said Javed Akhtar, turning emotional on the occasion. He said that he had composed this song during the Kargil war.

      Since then, the GCs march to the IMA song, singing along loudly as they come on to the parade ground for their passing out parade. IMA’s motto is “Veerta  aur Vivek” (Valour  and Wisdom) and its colours are steel gray and red-the first for resilience and the second signifying the ultimate sacrifice in the service of the nation.

     Dehra Dun feels a special pride in housing this “alma mater” of the hundreds of officers who are commissioned into the army every year, once in June and once in December after they cross the “Antim Pag”, at the end of the passing out parade and walk into the hallowed Chetwode building, marching to the tune of “Auld lang Syne”(Old long Since).

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