Officers Training Schools were established to meet the escalated demand
for officers during the turbulent years of World War II. The Officers
Training Academy (OTA) in Chennai was established in January 1963 as the
Officers Training School (OTS) in the wake of the Chinese aggression to
respond to the National Emergency declared during the period. The sudden
growth in the demand for officers at the time, in fact, gave birth
simultaneously to two Officers Training Schools, one each at Pune and
Madras. While the school at Pune was closed down in 1964, the one in
Madras continued to function. It evolved into a modern institution to
become a premier precommission training academy in the country today.
Although the setting up process
began in September 1962, the Officers Training School, Madras was formally
inaugurated with Brig Ram Singh as its founder Commandant on January 15,
1963 by Mr C Subramanian, the then Union Minister for Steel and Heavy
On being granted a permanent status
in 1985, the OTS was re-christened as the Officers Training Academy on
January 1, 1988 placing it on a par with IMA and NDA.
The academy is located in a
sprawling estate of 650 acres about 15 km south of the Chennai city.
To begin with, the OTS imparted
training only to the cadets of Emergency Commission (EC) Courses. A formal
government sanction was accorded for its new role on February 2, 1965 to
train officers for the Short Service Regular Commission (non-tech) and the
Short Service Regular Commission (compulsory service liability).
Short Service Regular Commission (compulsory service liability) Course - 1
passed out of the OTS on Novermber 21, 1965 and the Short Service Regular
Commission (non-tech) Course -1 passed out with a strength of 413 cadets
on April 24,1966. The Short Service Regular Commission (compulsory service
liability) was discontinued in May 1967 and the Short Service Commission
for Technical Arms and Services was introduced on November 3, 1969 which
lasted till March 1982. By then, the training of the Special List (SL)
Officers and Regimental Commissioned Officers (RCOs) had also become a
charter of the OTS on required basis and the first Special List Officers
Course was conducted from October 12 to December 10 , 1970.
the grant of government approval for the induction of women into the
officer cadre, the onerous task of imparting them pre-commission training
on behalf of the Army fell on OTA. The first Women’s Special Entry
Scheme (officers) Course with 25 lady cadets got underway on September 21,
1992 after the specially customised infrastructure had been created. The
syllabus helped them imbibe the essentials in a short span of 24 weeks as
against 44 weeks for their male counterparts. The lady cadets formed a
part of other companies till March 1998, when they were organised into a
separate (Zojila) company.
With its growing reputation for
excellence and professional commitment, the OTA has had the distinction to
train cadets from foreign armies since 1980. A total of 74 cadets were
commissioned into the Sri Lankan army after being put through an exclusive
pre-commission course in 1980-81, and another 10 were commissioned into
the Ugandan army after a training with SSC-67 in the year 1998.
The motto of the academy is ‘Serve
with Honour’. It is depicted on the emblem with crossed swords which
represent the profession of arms, and the Ashok Chakra representing
virtue of the short nature of their commission, a large number of the
alumni of this academy have bright chances for a second career in the
central services or the corporate sector. Several of them have joined the
central and allied services under the facilitated scheme offered in 1960s
to Emergency and Short Service Commissioned Officers. The scheme required
the aspirants to take only three compulsory subjects in the entrance
Since the capacity of NDA could not
keep pace with the planned expansion, an NDA Wing was set up at the OTS in
1975-76 to train 50 cadets per term for the three-year degree course.
Prior to this, an experts committee from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU)
visited the OTS to assess its suitability for running the course.
Fiftyfive Regular Course was started in conformity with the
recommendations of the JNU expert committee. Once established, the NDA
Wing continued to function within the OTS till July 1977 when it was
shifted to Ghorpadi in Pune.
The coveted President’s Colours
were presented to the OTA on August 18, 1990 by Mr R Venkataraman, the
then President of India.
OTA moulds young men and women into dynamic and capable officers. The
officers are trained to perform effectively while guarding national
frontiers, quelling internal disturbances, assisting civil administration
during natural calamities, countering low intensity conflicts and
participating in peacekeeping missions.
The training at the OTA aims at
inculcating moral values, leadership traits, mental and physical
robustness, a spirit of adventure and a will to win. The training
emphasises the need of camaraderie and a commitment to excellence based on
the four pillars of duty, honour, integrity and self-esteem.
the duration of training used to be changed to meet the emerging
exigencies from time to time, it was reverted to 44 weeks in 1972 and this
has remained unchanged so far. The training includes service training with
camps, TEWTs and outdoor exercises, and General Awareness Training. While
the first prepares the cadets for the command of an infantry platoon in
war and during peace, the second provides the essential orientation
towards technological advancement and the power of reasoning and
Speech training to help the
gentlemen cadets overcome glaring regional angularities and develop
communication skills as well as leadership and management traits are
accorded due importance in the curriculum. Traditional methods of ‘chalk
and talk’ have given way to the extensive use of audio and visual aids.
These include an audio-visual feedback system incorporating the best of
micro-teaching and educational technology for generating an interest in
extensive deployment of the Indian Army for counter-insurgency operations
(CI operations) necessitated some restructuring of the curriculum at OTA.
A CI operation capsule incorporating jungle lane shooting as well as the
creation of a mock tribal village to impart training in cordon and search
operations and house clearance drills was introduced. Talks and
discussions on CI-operations related case studies are held with
experienced service officers.
Lectures form a part of an ongoing
series by experts in diverse fields who are invited to improve cadets’
awareness on various subjects.
OTA entered the age of information technology with the inauguration of a
state-of-the-art computer centre in February last year. The centre is
equipped with pentium computers along with necessary peripherals. The
centre has the capacity to train 70 cadets at a time. The work has also
been completed on the Local Area Network (LAN) comprising 27 nodes for
automation of the entire campus which became functional in April last
year. The requisite software for the automation of cadets dossiers is at
an advanced stage of preparation. This stride in information technology is
bound to revolutionise all facets of functioning at OTA. An additional sum
of Rs 50 lakh has already been allotted for further development in the
field. Another multimedia computer lab along with a state-of-the-art
language lab incorporating the latest language teaching software is now in
is of paramount importance in a training programme in order to draw the
best from the trainees. Numerous prizes and awards instituted include the Sword
of Honour for the overall best Gentleman Cadet and the gold medal for
the overall best lady cadet. Collective excellence and team spirit are
fostered by the Chief of the Army Staff Banner and the Commandant’s
Banner awarded to the companies declared all-round-best in a term in
The OTA alumni have also made an
enduring mark in the sports field. In 1973, the Battalion Under Officer
Harcharan Singh was one of the star performers of the Indian hockey team
in the World Cup Hocky Championship held at Amsterdam. Later, he also
represented India at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, and was conferred the
Arjuna Award in 1981. Capt Romeo James, another alumnus, was the
goalkeeper for the Indian hockey team at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984.
The academy’s Riding and Polo Club
has taken part in national level tournaments and has distinguished itself.
Its imperssive array of achievements includes the Madras Gold Polo Vase
won in 1983 by defeating 61 Cavalry. The club has the distinction of
having won the Kolanka Cup, entered in the Guinness Book as the world’s
tallest cup, more than once.
officers of the OTA have distinguished themselves in combat with a series
of heroic actions that are outstanding and worthy of the highest
accolades. The academy’s Roll of Honour includes 152 alumni who have
sacrificed in the service of their motherland. Emblazoned in gold in the
Hut of Remembrance, their names live forever and so does their saga of
A large number of OTA’s alumni
have been decorated for gallantry. In Kargil operations four OTA alumni
who were awarded Mahavir Chakra included Maj Padmapani Acharya
(posthumous), Lt Balwan Singh, Maj Sonam Wang Chuk and Lt Keishing
Clifford Nongrum (posthumous). The special Kargil Corner in the Cadets
Mess ante-room commemorates their heroism and houses their personal
The present tally of gallantry
awards won by the alumin of OTA is one Param Vir Chakra, four Ashok
Chakra, nine Mahavir Chakra, four Kirti Chakra, forty Vir
Chakra, sixteen Shaurya Chakra and one hundred twenty Sena Medals.
All these years the OTA has been
housed in a temporary accommodation. In 1999, a decision was taken to
locate the academy permanently in Chennai and to finalise its key location
plan with an enhanced capacity of 750 cadets as against the existing 500.
A five-year roll-on plan has been sanctioned for the
permanent key location plan. Once it is complete, the OTA would certainly
rank among the best officer-cadet academies in South East Asia.