Sunday, February 24, 2008

History of IMA

Here are some more facts about the history of the IMA. These are taken from Sam Manekshaw's biography, which is part of my book LEADERSHIP IN THE INDIAN ARMY - BIOGRAPHIES OF TWELVE SOLDIERS.

Skeen Committee
The Skeen Committee, set up in 1925, had recommended the establishment of an Indian Sandhurst by 1933. To work out details of the proposed military training college, the Government had appointed the Indian Military College Committee, in early 1931. The Committee was chaired by Sir Philip Chetwode, and had a large number of service and civilian members. After detailed deliberation, the Committee submitted its report on 15 July 1931. It recommended establishment of a college to train Indians for commissions in the Indian Army, after an examination to be conducted by the Public Service Commission. The course was to be of three years duration, with the age of entry between 18 and 20 years. On graduation, officers would be granted Indian Commissions, which would be signed by the Viceroy. (The Commissions of officers graduating from Sandhurst were signed by the King). The total fee would be Rupees 4,600, which would cover tuition, board, lodging, uniforms, books and pocket money. Indian Army cadets would be exempted from the fees, and given a stipend of 60 rupees per month. After getting their commissions, the officers would be given the rank of Second Lieutenants, with a monthly salary of 300 rupees.

One of the important points which the Committee considered was the location of the proposed college. It had to be centrally located, easily accessible, with a temperate climate all the year round, and adequate accommodation as well as space for future expansion. The presence of a military garrison in the vicinity was also desirable. After considering over a dozen locations, the Committee short listed three - Dehradun, Mhow and Satara. Finally Dehradun was selected, because of its central location, climate, proximity to the PWRIMC, and the fact that the Railway Staff College was closing down, and its accommodation was readily available.

The three Poineers
Early in 1932, it was announced that an examination for entrance to the Indian Military Academy (IMA) would be conducted in June or July. Sam took some money from his mother, went to Delhi and appeared in the entrance examination on 14 July 1932. There were a total of 40 vacancies - 15 selected through open competition, 15 from the Army and 10 from the Indian State Forces. Only 15 cadets were selected and Sam was sixth in order of merit. The first Commandant was Brigadier L.P. Collins, DSO, and the staff was carefully selected to ensure that the standards were kept at par with those at Sandhurst. Training commenced on 1 October 1932, though the Academy was formally inaugurated on 10 December 1932 by the C-in-C, Field Marshal Sir Philip Chetwode, Bart, GCB, GCSI, KCMG, DSO. The first batch, called 'The Pioneers', had three future Chiefs - Manekshaw rose to head the Army in India, Smith Dun in Burma and Mohd Musa in Pakistan.

Maj Gen VK Singh (Retd)
Military Historian

Copies are available at reduced price from Air Sp Sig Regt in Delhi for units, serving personnel and ESM.

Photograph. Field Marshal Philip Walhouse Chetwode, 1st Baron Chetwode, 7th Baronet of Oakley GCB OM GCSI KCMG DSO (21 September, 1869– 06 July 1950) was a British cavalry officer who became Commander in Chief in India. Famous Chetwode Hall of IMA.

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