National Defence Academy (NDA) 138th course passed out on May 30, 2020, completing their rigorous three-year training at the tri-services academy. A total of 335 cadets graduated from the NDA which includes 226 Army cadets, 44 Naval cadets and 65 Air Force cadets. The course also included 20 cadets from friendly foreign countries (Bhutan, Tajikistan, Maldives, Vietnam, Tanzania, Mauritius, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Turkmenistan, Fiji, Uzbekistan, Sudan, Mongolia and Bangladesh).
The restrictions and protocols in place due to coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak meant that unlike the previous courses, the 138th was attended only by the cadets of the passing out course and a limited number of NDA faculty members. The Passing Out Parade was not held on the Khetarpal Ground but in the historic Habibullah Hall with all the cadets, faculty members and defence officials present maintaining social distancing and sporting face masks.
With NDA Commandant Lieutenant General Asit Mistry, AVSM, SM, VSM presiding over the Passing Out Parade, the medals to the best cadets, too, were awarded without any physical contact. Battalion Cadet Captain Shivam Kumar stood first in overall order of merit winning the President’s Gold Medal while Battalion Cadet Captain Mukesh Kumar won the President’s Silver Medal for standing second. The third place and the President’s Bronze Medal for standing third in overall order of merit was bagged by Battalion Cadet Captain Paarth Gupta. The prestigious ‘Chiefs of Staff Banner’ for being the Champion Squadron went to ‘Kilo’ squadron.
"While keeping the sentiment and symbolism of the lifetime occasion for the cadets fully intact, the military procedures were improvised and adapted to ensure ‘Do Gaj ki Doori’, the mandated social distancing," the press release on the NDA Passing Out Parade stated.
Even the parents of the cadets passing out were not invited. "Traditionally, the parents of passing out cadets are invited and accommodated in the Academy for about three days, during which, they witness various facets of training that a cadet undergoes in the academy, which not only gives them a sense of pride but also reassures them that their wards are in best hands in the country," the statement added.
In yet another departure from the norm, the cadets will not go home but instead report to their respective pre-commissioning training academies directly. While the Army cadets will report to the Indian Military Academy in Dehradun, the air force and navy cadets will join the Air Force Academy, Dundigal and Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala respectively.