The National Defence College (NDC) was inaugurated on April 27, 1960 by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of Independent India. NDC is a pioneering institute of its type in Asia. In 1959 the President of India sanctioned "the setting up of National Defence College for providing instruction to senior service and Civil Service officers' in the wider aspects of higher direction and Strategy of Warfare". Today, NDC as multiservice institution, continues to provide future decision makers with the necessary skills and background for filling senior positions in National Security and associated fields.

Historical Background

     In July 1958, the Ministry of Defence accepted the need for a broad-based training within the country, for senior decision-makers, on matters related to national security and strategy. They recognised that such training would be more useful if it encompassed not only defence matters but various diverse subjects related to national security. The Parliament Estimates Committee, established the feasibility of setting up an institution for imparting such training in India, on the pattern existing in other countries with advanced military capabilities.

     On May 6, 1959, the Cabinet Defence Committee approved the proposal for establishing the National Defence College. On September 15, 1959, the Defence Minister issued formal orders , conveying the sanction of the President of India for setting up of a National Defence College (NDC) in India for preparing senior service and civil officers for assuming higher responsibilities in the planning and management of national security and strategy.

NDC 1st Comdt

College Comes into Being

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     In July 1959, Lt General K Bahadur Singh was appointed the first Commandant of the College. By the end of the year, he formulated detailed plans including the aim and the charter of NDC as well as the scope of studies at the College. The Chiefs' of Staff cleared approved them on December 25, 1959.

     On April 14, 1960, the Ministry of Defence, laid down the following aim for the College:-

     The NDC will provide joint training and instruction to senior service and civil officers and will be under the administrative control of the Ministry of Defence.The study at the College will relate to strategic, economic, scientific, political and industrial aspects of national defence

     Based on the aim, the scope of study was planned to include an examination of internal and external threats to the security of India as well as possible trends for the next ten years. Studies would include analysis of diverse factors such as foreign policies of other nations, conflicts over vital economic interests or territorial claims and factional, communal or political differences. Members of the course would also analyse formulation of national strategy for various contingencies up to and including the outbreak of war. Based on these guidelines, the first Course at NDC commenced on April 27, 1960.

     The National Defence College was organised on the pattern of the Imperial Defence College (now Royal College of Defence Studies) of U.K. with it location in New Delhi.

     The historic occasion was fixed for 10.00 AM on Wednesday, the 27 April 1960. The Prime Minister, while inaugurating the College gave his famous quotes which formed the Motto for the College. Keeping in background the situation and security environment, prevailing at that time, outlined the importance of broader defence strategy. He stressed this to meet new dangers of a "continuing nature" on India's frontiers. He said:

     "Our desire is to live peacefully and co-operate with all neighbours. Nevertheless, no defence apparatus could live in pure idealistic way. It has to be very realistic and remain prepared for any emergency." The Prime Minister emphasised the need for an effective coordination between defence services and other aspects of the country's economic, industrial and administrative life, including the country's foreign policy.

     He said, "The organisation of this institution had become a positive necessity to meet the defence problems as they were likely to be in future. India had to face these problems continously for a considerable period." He further added that the Defence College had to develop the broader outlook and understanding, out of which would grow a broader strategy. Defence itself is not an isolated matter now. It is intimately connected with the economic aspect, industrial aspect and many other aspects in the country.

     The Hon'ble Prime Minister concluded his speech by saying, "I have no doubt that the officers, defence or civil, who come here, will profit by their stay and then be able to improve others who come in contact with them in the positions they may be serving. And, I agree that this College should have contact with the Civil Services and people from Civil Services should come here, not only to develop these contacts but it is necessary for them to know the problems in this wider field. So I am glad to be here to give a slight push, this morning, to this National Defence College and I believe I am supposed to say the formal words, "I inaugurate it with pleasure."

     The glittering ceremony on that August Wednesday morning was attended by a small but distinguished gathering which included Defence Minister Mr. V K Krishna Menon, the three Service Chiefs, the Commonwealth and Foreign Secretaries, the British High Commissioner and prominent MPs. Others present were the Senior Directing Staffs, namely, Shri BN Varma, ICS, Rear Admiral A Chakravarti and Air Vice Marshal R Raja Ram, DFC, and the chosen 21 Course Members who were there to embark upon the historic First Course .

Formative Years

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     The first Course started on 27 April I960.The curriculum included study of internal threats affecting the national security. The internal threats included economic, social and political aspects. The curriculum incorporated study of external, economic and defence policies of world powers namely, USA, erstwhile USSR and China followed by similar study of policies of adjacent countries, which could impact the national security, due to their own or world power policies. The last two studies were of the world war and, with this overall background, to recommend strategic policies in diplomacy, economy and defence. This basis proved to be very sound as the studies in the first two Courses forecast correctly the war with China in the winter of 1962 and with Pakistan before 1966.

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Command and Control

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     NDC functions directly under Ministry of Defence. The Commandant of the College is a three star rank officer from the three Services in rotation for a term of two years. He is supported by five Senior Directing Staff from the three sevices and one each from the Civil Service and the Foreign Service. Administration is looked after by the Secretary under the Commandant and is supported by a number of Staff Officers.

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     The aim of National Defence College is to equip future policy makers with the background necessary for a broad understanding of the varied social, economic, political, military, scientific and organisational aspects involved in the planning of national strategy.

     With this aim in mind the National Defence College imparts training in national and international security related fields to the selected senior Defence and Civil Services officers and promotes research and understanding of various related issues by creating the necessary academic environment for such work.

     Along with the study, the College offers an opportunity to the Armed Forces and Civil Services officers of getting together and exchanging ideas and hence enabling a holistic appreciation of each other's challenges, both in peace and in war. The course not only caters to the needs of officers holding highly specialised appointments, but also provides general education to offer them a wider outlook on a great variety of state affairs. Such training becomes an additional qualification for officers already holding or likely to hold important appointments in the Government.


     The role of National Defence College is:-
        (a)     To provide a structured exposure to diverse issues related to national security of a modern state, in general and India, in particular.
      (b)    To facilitate individual development by creating at the College the necessary academic environment related to National Security issues.
        (c)     To develop a thorough and lasting mutual understanding between different organisations of the Government of India and selected foreign countries by providing necessary opportunities.
      (d)  To be an instrument for the Government of India to foster better understanding, mutual co-operation and desirable linkages in the national, regional and international security arena with friendly foreign countries.
To fulfil the above roles, the course of instruction at the NDC comprises “National Security and Strategic Studies", conducted annually for 47 weeks. The course is centred on high level security issues in the global and regional context. The central theme is the challenges of managing change while preserving stability and the contextual relevance of political, economic and military power.

Coming of Age

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     The College, since its inception in I960, has trained 3800 officers (till 58th Course). Starting with 21 students in 1960, the course strength has increased to 100 annualy. The induction of a Course Member from Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs), started from 1993.

Statistically the Break-up

Service Stats
Indian Army 1365 (36%)
Indian Navy 289 (7%)
Indian Air force 557 (15%)
Indian Civil Services, PSU 763 (20%)
Foreing Officers 826 (22%)

     The foreign students started attending the Course at NDC from the 2nd NDC Course onwards and their number has been steadily increasing. So far, 69 countries have represented on the NDC Courses.

     A University Divison was established in the college in 2006. NDC is affiliated to the Madras University. A number of officers undergoing the presitigious National Defence and Strategic Studies Course choose to undertake M. Phil. while doing the course. A Research Wing has also been created in 1999 to carry out policy related research of strategic importance by research fellows.

The Crest

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     The Crest of the college approved by the President of India on 24 May 1965, was designed to integrate the significance of the three services of Defence and the Civil Service. The crest is made up of a lamp, with for flames which represent the Army, the Navy, The Airforce and the Civil Services. The National Emblem is at the top of the Lamp is surronnded by evergreen Leaves of Ashok Tree with the College Motto inscribed at the base of the Lamp. The Motto Buddhiryasya Balamtasya in Sanskrit, has been taken from Hitopadesha or Book of Amicable Instruction and means "Wisdom is Strength". At the base is a scroll in yellow parchment bearing the name of the College.

History of the Building

    The NDC is housed in Bunglow No 6, Tees January Marg (Previously known as Al suquerque road belonged to Khan Saheb Tej Muhammad Khan of Badarshi, Naushera in NWFP. He had built this mansion in 1935 for his own comfort and to entertain his business associates and friends. The house was majestically built on Victorian Architecture with Viceregal splendour.

     The British Government acquired this bunglow in 1939 and used it as a General Mess for the Army. In 1945, after the war, it was occupied by the Army and run by the Army Training School as a hostel for Army Officers. By September 1946, the British Government had decided to use this building as a part of the establishment of the British High Commission.

     On 25 Sep 1959 , the Ministry of Defence acquired this bunglow for NDC.

     By end March 1960, the bunglow was taken over and after renovation the College was inaugurated in this building on 27 April 1960. The building, as we know after 58 years of initial take over, has undergone repairs and renovations regularly to meet the requirements of the College.