Do you have it in you?

Do you have it in you?

Ever wonder about the requirements and selection procedure to join the armed forces?  Ever wonder if that offers the benefits and enhancements you're looking for? Payal Krishnan answers all that and more.

A career in the armed forces is always seen as one of dignity, bravado, selflessness and respect. That is why a lot of students actually sit for the National Defense Academy entrance exam after class XII or SSB exams after graduation. It is a career that is full of adventure, travel, job security and of course, a lot of responsibility.
The armed forces consist of the Indian Army, the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy. All three forces have their own selection procedures.

Why join the forces?

Three reasons stand out among others, in one’s justification for joining the armed forces.

* As an officer in the forces, you’ll learn to get the best out of yourself and others. Being an officer is about being a leader.

* There are many career paths that officers can choose to follow. The defense is a large and a complex organisation that offers an extensive range of opportunities and experiences that you’d rarely encounter in any civilian employment.

* Officers in the forces enjoy lots of benefits like high-quality training, adventure sports, attractive remuneration packages, ongoing job security, travel, opportunity and satisfaction for career advancement etc.

Motivating the young

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has directed all its affiliated schools to motivate senior-secondary students to join the armed forces. The CBSE currently offers a compulsory subject called 'General Foundation Course' for all students in Classes XI and XII. The course aims at improving students' mastery over current affairs and general knowledge. Two periods in a week have been earmarked for students to hold discussions on career options open to them. The Board has directed the schools to use these classes to focus on the benefits and challenges of a career in the armed forces, in order to be able to attract young students to the Forces.
Besides creating a human resource of organised, trained and motivated youth, the course would provide a suitable environment to motivate the youth to take up a career in the armed forces and help students be informed about the process of selection carried out by the armed forces for recruitment and prepare accordingly. To further concretize its move, CBSE also recommends a supplementary book by NCERT titled ‘The Indian Army - A Glorious Heritage’ for use by teachers to attract young students towards career options available in the Armed Forces.

Personal attributes required

A career in the Armed forces is definitely not for the faint-hearted. Here are some personal attributes that could work in your favour.

* Love for one's country
* Commitment
* Dedication
* An alert mind
* Integrity
* Willingness to obey orders
* Discipline

Selection procedure

Selection procedure for the Indian Armed Forces after class XII consists of the following;

* NDA Examination: The NDA entry is open twice a year. The requirements for entry into NDA comprise;

* Age -16 ½ to 19 yrs (on the day the course is expected to begin)

* Qualification - Class XII with Physics for Army and Maths for Air Force/Navy
* Written exam and SSB interview

* Duration of training - Three years at NDA and then one year at IMA, Dehradun.

* Written examination: In order to join the NDA, a student has to clear the UPSC exam and SSB interview. There are two batches every year. One starts in January and the other in July. The UPSC exam is a 2 ½ hour affair consisting of 900 marks in two different papers - 300 marks for Maths and 600 for Physics, Chemistry, English, History, Geography, GK, IQ etc.

* Interview and assessment: Qualified candidates in the written examination will be called for Interview conducted by SSB (Services selection Board). For Army, Navy wings and 10 +2 entry scheme candidates need to undergo Intelligence Test and Personality Test, but for Air Force Wing the candidates must attend a Pilot Aptitude Test.

In interview the candidates will be put to intelligence tests, both verbal and non verbal tests, to assess their intelligence. They will also go through group tests such as group discussions, group planning, outdoor group tasks, and asked to give brief lectures on specified subjects.

* Medical assessment: The final stage of the recruitment process will require one to complete a fitness assessment. Recommended candidates appear before the medical board for medical assessment after the SSB results.

* Appointment: The appointment finally takes place into one of the following two;

* Permanent Commission:  A permanent commission means a career in the forces till you retire. For a cadet to be on permanent commission, he has to join NDA (National Defense Academy) or the IMA (Indian Military academy.)

* Short Service Commission: For a short service, the cadet has the option to serve the Army for 10 years which is extendable till 14 years. Qualifying for a short service requires a written examination and medical. Short service for engineering or law graduate includes SSB interview and medical. At the end, the officer has the option to opt out or convert to permanent commission.

The official websites of the Indian Army (, Indian Air Force ( and the Indian Navy ( provide valuable information on these careers and students should definitely check these out.

(The writer is a career expert.)

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