Academy to adopt innovative methods of training; decision taken days after The Indian Express drew attention to YouTube videos showing cadets sleeping in class.
With images of cadets falling asleep in class at the National Defence Academy being flashed on YouTube,followed by a subsequent report being published in the April 3 edition of The Indian Express,the Academys instructors have been told to adopt innovative methods to engage the attention of cadets both during classroom and outdoor training. The squadrons have been also been told to make sure cadets get a minimum of six hours of sleep at night.
The issue came up during the deputy commandants conference with the cadet counselors on April 6. Three days prior to that,The Indian Express published a report,citing three YouTube videos that showed cadets sleeping during class. The academy had then tried to clarify that ample time is given to the cadets during training.
It is learned that the deputy commandant and chief instructor have also asked battalion commanders,squadron commanders and divisional officers to conduct surprise rounds in academic blocks to detect defaulters. It has also been decided that counselors are engaged in assessing the cadets psyche. Emphasis has also been laid on increasing liaison between the education branch,training branch and battalion/ squadron offices to enhance attentiveness of cadets in the classes, said a source.
NDA officials feel that the directive to ensure cadets get a minimum of six hours of mandatory sleep at night is a welcome step,because it might help curb unstructured training that takes place during nights,putting additional pressure on the cadets.
Earlier,when this paper had reported that sleeping in classes is still a practice at NDA,the Academy had responded by saying,Training at the NDA is an ever-evolving process with content reviews being carried out at regular intervals based on internal and external audits. The external audit is also carried out annually by a team from HQIDS and once in five years by a Joint Services team. The existing physical training syllabus was implemented from September 12 (last year). Adequate time has been dovetailed into the training schedule of the Cadets for rest and recuperation during the course of daily training.
Lt Col (retd) Dr Samir Rawat,the first psychologist and instructor (Class A) at NDA,feels that unstructured night training is the prime reason behind the stress.
Sleep deprivation is the prime cause. I feel that there should be zero tolerance to non-structured training at squadrons during nights. I also believe that the decorated officers can,by mean of motivation and as role models for the cadets,train the cadets. Moreover,assessing the performance of a squadron commander or a divisional officer by that of the squadron is an obsolete practice. In doing so,these officers try to ensure that their squadrons win by hook or by crook. This way,the cadets are put through additional stress.
NDA needs to find better means of assessing a divisional officer/ squadron commanders performance. Here,the leadership qualities of the cadets,and not of those who are already officers,meed to be honed, he said.
A retired colonel and former Physical Training Officer of NDA also blamed unstructured training for cadets sleeping during class,saying,The onus lies on both unstructured training at the squadron and monotony of the lectures. The normal structured training at the NDA is not so tough that it will stress out cadets. night activities in squadrons go beyond the capacity of the cadets and this has amounted to an additional burden on them.
While the new directives do address the cause,they will remain cosmetic if the root cause,which is unstructured training at squadrons,is not addressed, he said,while suggesting that CCTVs may be fitted in squadrons to ensure the directives are strictly adhered to.