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Career in Indian Army

The Indian Army is one of the largest in the world, with a history going back several hundred years. It was during the British era, that a Military Department very similar to the present Ministry of Defence was set up but, with most of the senior positions occupied by the British. It was after Independence, on 14th January 1949, the Army had its first Indian Commander-in-Chief, General (later Field Marshal) KM Cariappa. The army headquarters is located in Sena Bhavan and portions of the south block of the Red fort in Delhi. 

Armed Forces offer excellent career opportunities to the adventurous young candidates. It is a career that offers immense facilities, a privileged lifestyle and of course, honour in serving the country. The Armed Forces characterize the ideals of service, sacrifice, patriotism and our country's composite culture. The basic responsibility of the Army is to safeguard the territorial integrity of the nation against external aggression. In addition, the Army is often required to assist the civil administration during internal security disturbances and in the maintenance of law and order, in organising relief operations during natural calamities like floods, earthquakes and cyclones and in the maintenance of essential services.

The two main lines of work in the armed forces are categorised under the Fighting Forces and the Support Services. The fighting forces comprise the armoured corps, artillery, signals, engineering and the infantry (and similar divisions in the navy and air force), while the Support Services include electronics and mechanical engineering, ordinance corps, medical corps, intelligence and education.

The Indian Army is organised into five regional commands :

  • HQ Central Command, Lucknow ;
  • HQ Eastern Command, Calcutta ;
  • HQ Northern Command, Udhampur;
  • HQ Western Command, Chandimandir; and
  • HQ Southern Command, Pune.

In addition, there is a Army Training Command at Shimla for the purpose of laying down the training policies for the Army.

The entry route into the Indian Army is through the Combined Defence Services Examination (CDSE). The UPSC conducts this CDSE twice a year — in February and August/September — to admit cadets to the Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun, and the Officers Training Academy (OTA), Chennai. CDSE also admits cadets to the Navy and Air Force — for which you require either a BSc (physics/maths) or a BE/BTech.

The eligibility criteria and the pattern of the exam is as follows:
For IMA: Unmarried males with Bachelor’s degree in any discipline.
For OTA (SSC course): Married or unmarried males with Bachelor’s degree in any discipline.

Selection is on the basis of an objective type written exam followed by SSB tests and interview for those who qualify the written exam. The intelligence and personality tests essentially cover outdoor, group and psychological activities. The written exam is held at various centres all over the country and consists of three papers for admission to IMA, Naval and Air Force Academy. The examination for OTA consists of only the first two papers. Paper I tests your English. Paper II tests your general knowledge of current events and general science. Also, it includes questions on geography and history of India. Paper III tests your knowledge of elementary mathematics, arithmetic, algebra, trigonometry, geometry, mensuration and statistics. You can take the general knowledge and maths papers in English or Hindi. Each paper is of two-hours and carries 100 marks. There is negative marking for wrong answers. Once you clear the written tests you will proceed to the next stage, which is conducted by the Service Selection Board. The SSB tests evaluate your potential and aptitude in terms of reasoning, intelligence, communication skills, courage, initiative, confidence, responsibility, social adaptability, decision-making and organisational ability to see if you possess ‘officer-like’ qualities. The tests call for average intelligence and are conducted at designated army selection centres.

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