A CBI probe into the appointment of senior faculty members at the National Defence Academy (NDA) in Khadakwasla has revealed gross irregularities. It has found that 13 faculty members, including the principal of the NDA, were appointed to these posts although they were not eligible for it. To qualify for the posts, the faculty members exaggerated their teaching experience and research output. They inflated their academic performance indicator (API) scores by claiming to have presented papers at seminars and published in research journals. What is more, they produced false and forged certificates at the time of their appointment. As shocking as the fraudulent means adopted by the faculty members is the connivance of officials at the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) and the Headquarters - Integrated Defence Staff (HQ-IDS). Appointments to the NDA faculty positions are made by the Ministry of Defence on the recommendation of the UPSC, which is the selection authority. The UPSC officials scrutinise applications and shortlist candidates on the basis of their API scores. They are then interviewed and the selected applicants’ names are sent to the MoD, which gets their certificates and other documents verified by the HQ-IDS.
The CBI has named five of the 13 faculty members in its First Information Report. The UPSC and HQ-IDS officials who were part of the scam have not been named. The CBI must extend its probe to net others who facilitated or benefited directly or indirectly from the appointments. Scam relating to the MoD or the security forces and their institutions are often hushed up on the ground that it will impact the morale of the forces or impinge on our national security. These flimsy excuses should not be proffered by the MoD with regard to this scam. Those involved should be identified and punished sternly. One would have thought that appointments to faculty positions at elite institutions, especially those that train officers for the Indian military, would be free from corruption that besets the rest of the system. As this scam indicates, the rot has permeated the NDA as well. This is a matter of concern.
It is at the NDA that young men preparing for a career in the armed forces acquire not just knowledge in fields such as geopolitics and military strategy but also values like honesty, loyalty and integrity. Teachers play a huge role in moulding the personalities of students. Faculty members like the 13 under investigation by the CBI, who are under-qualified and worse, and lacking in integrity, deprive these young men of positive role models. It undermines the quality of officers who come out of the NDA. The scam has tarnished the NDA. The MoD must restore its sheen.