How to improve NCC (National Cadet Corps)



Musings of Veteran Vikram Karve


Part 1



Recently — I read a news item that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has constituted a High-Level Expert Committee for a comprehensive review of National Cadet Corps (NCC). The committee comprises distinguished personalities from various walks of life. The “terms of reference” are couched in bureaucratese and are quite vague — but the very fact that the MoD has constituted this committee indicates that the MoD feels that the NCC needs to be revamped and improved.


Links to News Item:



As a Military (Navy) Veteran — let me offer some suggestions on how to revamp and improve the NCC.

Is there any need to revamp the NCC…?

In its present state — is anything wrong with the NCC…?

If so — the first step is to ascertain what is wrong with the NCC — and — what are the specific aspects that need to be improved or revamped.

There is saying:

“One Look is Better than a Thousand Reports”.

If the committee members want to discover if something is really wrong with the NCC and determine specific areas for improvement — it would be better to observe the state of affairs “first hand” — rather than rely on “reports” prepared by various authorities — some of whom may even have a “vested interest”.

My first suggestion to all committee members is that each member should pay a “surprise visit” to the nearest NCC unit or local NCC HQ — and observe the state of affairs.

The visit to the NCC Unit should be a genuine “surprise visit” — unannounced — and the members should go “incognito”.

The best time for the “surprise visit” is in the morning — just before opening time — so that — you can observe the punctuality of the NCC officers and civilian staff.

Are all NCC Officers and Office Staff coming to work on time…?

Punctuality is a hallmark of character and discipline — and — if NCC cadets are expected to be punctual — shouldn’t NCC officers and staff lead by example…?

Observe the environment — does it give the impression of a regimented military unit — or — is the atmosphere more like a “laissez faire” civilian government office…?

Do the NCC Officers and Civilian Staff look like “role models” who can inspire the young cadets who are of impressionable age…?

Do the NCC Officers and Civilian Staff exhibit “Josh” — great enthusiasm and high morale…?

Are the Commanding Officer (CO) and Officers medically fit and in good physical shape to be able to lead by example in participating in various cadet training and activities…?

Look around — observe the state of the facilities, offices and buildings — are they modern, well maintained and “spick-and-span” — or do they look shabby, dilapidated and decrepit…?

Have they implemented modern digital paperless administrative and management systems — or do they still use antiquated paperwork-oriented system…?

Is everything orderly — and are all staff productively employed — or — do you see people sitting idle, underemployed or loitering around…?

Walk around incognito and talk to random people (without disclosing your identity) — and get a feel of their views of NCC.

What is your overall impression of the NCC Unit/HQ — does it look like a Military Organization — or — like a Civilian Government Office….?

In order to get a realistic assessment — it is most important to go “incognito” and have a “surprise visit”.

If you go on an official visit — it is most likely that the event will be “stage managed” — you will be given a “conducted tour” and shown impressive “demos” — and — you will see what they want you to see — and you will hear what they want you to hear — which may not be the ground reality.


(If you live in Pune — and you want to get a “feel” of NCC “vibes” — do visit the NCC Group Headquarters (HQ) in the heart of Pune City. Whenever I see this place — I observe the rather “sleepy” atmosphere and “laid back” ambience — not the dynamism one would expect from a military unit or vibrant youth organization.)


To summarize Part 1 in a nutshell — a “surprise” incognito visit to an NCC Unit may be more useful for committee members to get a first-hand “reality check” — rather than an official “conducted tour”.


Part 2

Rejuvenating NCC Human Resources


An organization — especially a military oriented organization like NCC — has three facets:

1. “Hardware” (Infrastructure)

2. “Software” (Management/Administrative System)

3. “Skinware” (Human Resource)


In my opinion — the weakest aspect of the NCC is the “Skinware” (Human Resource)

If you are really serious about improving the NCC and motivating and empowering young NCC Cadets — my suggestions to rejuvenate the NCC “Skinware” are as follows:

1. Young motivated Army, Navy, Air Force Officers must be posted to NCC — all military officers posted to NCC Units must be below the age of 30 — in top physically fit condition, professionally savvy and full of “josh” — to bond with and inspire the young NCC Cadets.

2. Military Officers posted to NCC HQ must be below 45 years of age — and should be agile, full of zest and look physically fit — all officers and personnel posted to NCC must be in top Medical Category SHAPE1 (S1A1) — and — they must be professionally sound and highly motivated in order to be “role models” for young NCC cadets who are of impressionable age.

3. NCC must be treated as a “prestigious” appointment for bright career prospects at all levels. NCC must not be used as a “dumping ground” for Superseded Officers, Re-Employed Officers, Low Medical Category (LMC) Officers and “Unwanted” Officers — or a “Compassionate Grounds” or Pre-Retirement “Resettlement” Posting.


Do you know how many Director Generals of NCC (DGNCC) have become Army Chiefs…?

If you look at the list of DGNCC since inception of NCC in 1948 — you will observe that only one — the first DGNCC Col GG Bewoor — became the Army Chief. And — he was a young Colonel when he was DGNCC.

After 1948 — though the rank of DGNCC has been continuously upgraded — and is now held by a Lieutenant General — not a single DGNCC has become an Army Chief (probably not even an Army Commander). This speaks volumes of the importance given to NCC.

At all levels — barring a few exceptions — a posting to NCC is usually considered “end of the road” as far as promotion prospects are concerned.

Also — NCC has 3 Wings — Army Navy and Air Force — therefore — it is appropriate to rotate the post of DGNCC between Army, Navy and Air Force — rather than keep it the exclusive preserve of the Army. There is saying that an organization is as good as its Top Leader — and — domination of a Tri-Service Organization like NCC by one service is not desirable. Rotating the post of DGNCC among Army, Navy and Air Force will impart a Tri-Service Flavor to the NCC and will promote better “Jointmanship” in the NCC which is especially relevant with the advent of Tri-Service Theatre Commands.

It may also be desirable to restructure and decentralize the NCC Organization to make it more dynamic and effective than the present top-heavy Delhi-Centric hierarchy.

I will elucidate my views on these aspects in Part 3 of this series.

To summarize — in my opinion — NCC does not require more money — NCC requires better people — as elucidated above in Part 2 — and systemic changes — which I will discuss in Part 3 of this series.



Dear Reader — please ruminate on these two questions:

1. What “ROI” does the government expect from NCC…?

2. What “ROI” do NCC Cadets expect from NCC…?


The two principal stakeholders who “invest” in the NCC are the government and youth who join NCC (cadets).

NCC is funded by taxpayers’ money — and all citizens pay taxes in some form or the other — so — the term “government” includes citizens as well.

On the other hand — youth who join the NCC as cadets “invest” their time.

What Return on Investment (ROI) do they expect from NCC…?

Think about it — Dear Readers — and — do comment and let us know your views.

We will discuss this aspect too in a subsequent post in this series.

In short:

Is NCC giving “a bang for the buck”…?


To be continued in Part 3

“Re-engineering” the NCC



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A creative person with a zest for life, alumnus IIT Delhi, Lawrence School Lovedale, Vikram Karve is a retired Navy Officer turned full time Writer and Blogger

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Vikram Karve

A creative person with a zest for life, alumnus IIT Delhi, Lawrence School Lovedale, Vikram Karve is a retired Navy Officer turned full time Writer and Blogger