May 25 is going to be a red-letter day for the Indian Naval Academy (INA) at Ezhimala, when its maiden batch of 60 technical graduates (B.Tech) are inducted into the executive branch - the combat wing - of the Navy.
The passing out of 44 trainees from the electronics and communication engineering stream and 16 trainees from the mechanical engineering stream marks a watershed, as the ceremony signals a major transition for the force, which has embarked on a drive to enrol only B.Tech graduates in its executive branch. It has so far had B.Sc graduates.
Commissioned as Sub Lieutenants into the force, the officers would go on board ships of the Navy’s First Training Squadron under the Southern Naval Command in Kochi for their ‘afloat training’ with a B.Tech degree awarded by the Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi, Rear Admiral G.V. Ravindran, Deputy Commandant of the Academy, told The Hindu.
Ex-National Defence Academy (NDA) cadets (naval stream) and those from the 20-week Naval Orientation Course (NOC) would also graduate along with the Indian Naval Academy Course graduates on May 25.
While the Navy envisions having only B.Tech graduates in its executive branch, the NDA (Navy) cadets who join the naval academy for their last two terms on completion of training at the NDA will only be getting M.Sc (Tech) degree by the JNU.
The National Defence Academy, being a tri-services institution, is required to amend its B.Sc curriculum comprehensively to make the cadets eligible for B.Tech, said a navy officer. The force, it is learnt, has taken up the issue with the other two services and a curriculum revision is on the cards.
“Unless this is done, the NDA (Navy) cadets would be at a disadvantage vis-à-vis the naval academy cadets,” the officer said.
Speaking to The Hindu over the phone, Rear Admiral Ravindran said the academy had augmented infrastructure for 1,200 cadets. “The phase-II expansion of the academy is under way. With this, our squadron strength will go up from five to eight. Additional sports facilities, administrative structures, accommodation and an auditorium will also come in place,” he said.
“Despite efforts, shortage of adequate civilian faculty is the only issue remaining now. However, to ensure training does not suffer, qualified service personnel from the education branch have been drafted in,” he added.