I would like to begin this article by quoting the following “The uniform is not just a piece of clothing, it symbolizes discipline and honor”. The motto of National Cadet Corps (NCC) of India that stresses on “Unity and Discipline” today truly with high respect continues to stand out as the most distinctive and outstanding youth wing of the Indian Armed Forces that has had an impressive journey through decades of its existence. NCC has been one of the most incredible and cohesive exuberance of India bringing together the youth from different parts of the nation to instill leadership qualities. NCC as a Tri-services organization consisting of the Air force, Army and Navy has given fundamental military training for school and college students in several military aspects. Likewise, a panel headed by H. N. Kunzru suggested a cadet organization to be established in schools and universities at a national level. NCC today stands as an immense global youth corps in India consisting of over 1.2 million cadets.
The NCC formed in 1948, can be traced heretofore to the “University Corps” that was instituted under the Indian Defence Act of 1917. The main goal was to bring more citizens into the armed forces. However, the University Training Corps (UTC) under the “Indian Territorial Act” of 1920 replaced the “University Corps”. UTC was initiated to draw the youth of India. This led to the “Uniform Culture” of the cadets and a substantial phase towards the ‘Indianisation’ of the armed forces. Thereupon, NCC has been considered as the successor to the University Officers Training Corps (UOTC) established in 1942 under the Government of India. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, steered over the part of boosting the foremost NCC Unit in Delhi during his tenure. The “NCC Day” is traditionally celebrated every year on the last Sunday of November. Post the 1962 Sino-Indian War, to meet the necessities of the country, NCC activity was made mandatory in 1963. The NCC cadets were likewise the second line of defence during the Indo-Pakistani war of 1965 and the Bangladesh-Pakistani war of 1971.
NCC further has a remarkable track history of aiding the Indian community when directed by different agencies in crises such as cyclones, epidemics etc. The NCC has been a tremendous once in life chance platform for the youth to partake in the “Nation-building process” to live a noteworthy and disciplined life. It equips the youth with several employment opportunities in the Indian armed forces and other government organizations. The Cadets are further prepared at the expense of the Indian government and by armed forces through a relentless process. The NCC Director, General Gurbirpal Singh in 2022 also stated that students who join the NCC would grow up to become exemplary citizens and establish themselves as esteemed individuals in all fields. Henceforth, the primary purpose of NCC is to develop character qualities in the youth to make them citizens of exemplary nature in the society and respected leaders of tomorrow in every path of life.
In the present competitive world, one must possess a medley of paramount human qualities. In this way, NCC seeks to develop a feeling of responsibility, leadership qualities and selfless assistance among the cadets. Furthermore, NCC has been considered as a podium by sending its cadets or corps as ambassadors of unity and harmony through its “Youth Exchange Programmes” to many countries, thus, harnessing international relations for several decades. Importantly, the United Nations has also acknowledged that youth are a prominent human resource for growth and pivotal voices for economic growth, social change and technological innovation. In this context, NCC has been a great platform to achieve the following. The recent NCC plans to expand the cadet strength under the present government is truly a welcome move.
“India”, as an incredible country known for its “Unity and Diversity” does require the expansion of NCC to ingrain “National Pride” in its cadets. This decade where several countries have been heading towards war points to a “Dreary decade”. Therefore, India that has raised its defence budget to $72.6 billion, should also consider rapidly expanding the NCC units, as this will further strengthen its already robust national security. In August 2020, the Ministry of Defence further backed the recommendation to expand the National Cadet Corps (NCC) in border and coastal districts. Henceforth, Increasing the NCC units in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, North East regions and also Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh could be a “Game Changer” to inculcate the “National Pride” in the youth that could have an immense impact for generations to come. The 2022 move to increase additional vacancies in the NCC in Jammu and Kashmir to counter the radicalization by participation of the cadets in the NCC activities will pave the path in a promising way. Through increase of NCC vacancies, “India” could also see decrease in Naxalism and civil war like situations in some of the conflict regions of the country. India, being the third largest United Nations Peacekeeping (UNPK), the cadets who further aspire to join in the armed forces could even get an opportunity to serve in the UNPF. The Indian army has also established the Centre for the UNPK for the training of the troops.
India as a nation with a growing “Geopolitical clout” that aspires to be a “future superpower” in the coming years followed by modernization of armed forces should consider modernizing the NCC as well further devising new strategies and out of the box approaches in training the cadets moving away from the old school training techniques. Also, more International programmes and activities should be organized for the cadets to visit other countries such as Russia, Israel, the United States, Australia etc. to exchange ideas and new perspectives of global peace and harmony.
India being the largest country in the world with its young population, NCC is an opportunity to adapt to great qualities and officer like qualities, where general civilians do not get a chance to experience it in life. It further teaches the cadets to treat every religion, race, and caste equally without discrimination. Similarly, it teaches the cadets to respect the cadets from other state NCC units and a chance to learn the different traditions, languages, culture etc. As NCC marked 75 years of shaping youth for nation building in 2023, its legacy continues with a noteworthy chapter. Recently, the 2024 NCC Republic Day camp has also demonstrated the “Women Power” showcasing the largest participation of girls from different parts of India including North East and Jammu and Kashmir. The camp also consisted of cadets and officers from several other friendly countries. On the whole this shows the exalted patriotism of India’s youth. Likewise, the increased participation of female cadets determined to later enter the various armed forces shows how India is moving ahead drastically, catching up with countries such as Israel, the United States etc. that has the largest percentage of women in the armed forces.
To conclude, NCC can therefore shape the personality of the youth, bolster togetherness and nationalism via camps and International programmes. Thus, NCC will continue to recreate a very spirited and dynamic role in fostering, elevating and amplifying the International Relations of India and also empowering the youth to serve the nation to a considerable expanse in the near future.