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OTA Chennai
 
History
 

Location  Academy  Estate 

The Academy is located amid a sprawling estate of 650 acres traversed by River Adyar adjoining the Chennai International and   Domestic  Airport  , about 15 kms from the Chennai Central Railway Station along the Grand Southern Trunk (GST) Road. In its vicinity is the imposing prominence of the historic Saint Thomas Mount and its Roman Catholic Church that consecrates the memory of   Saint Thomas , one of Jesus Christ's 12 apostles, martyred on the Mount in 72 AD. It remains to this day a hallowed spot extremely popular with the tourists from all parts of the world. The cantonment dates back to the 18th Century when it was an important bastion of the Army of the Madras Presidency. Initially, the Mount was the scene of one of the fiercest battles of the Franco-British wars on  07 February 1759, subsequent to which the cantonment was established in the area in December 1774. However, most of the barracks were built during the period between 1815 to 1952.

Heritage Landmarks

Let us not forget the importance of heritage buildings amidst the talk of new aesthetically designed buildings coming up at the OTA. The very term Heritage buildings inside OTA points towards the White House, the Officers Mess and the Flag Staff House.  Every building is an architectural wonder and has a history behind them, for most of the buildings were built between the years 1815 to 1952.

White House

Known also as ‘the Head Quarters, the White House has the proud privilege of holding the prestigious offices of the Commandant, DCCI, Col GS and Col Adm.  The HQ building is popularly known as the ‘White House’, due to its distinctive white façade.  The history of the building can be traced back to the Nineteenth Century.  Constructed in 1861, the White  House was used as the Head Quarters of the Madras Presidency Army. 



It was later used as the HQ of various garrison units, located at St Thomas Mount.  Since 1962, the building has received the added importance by being HQ of the OTA.

The building is set in a Neo Classical Gravitas with airy porticos all around and flanked by galleries on all sides, maximizing ventilation.  With the Offices being air conditioned and a state of the art Conference Hall being added to its fold, the White House proudly stands tall.

 

Officers Mess

When one travels on the GST Road, the sight of the white, typically Victorian building, amidst the age old trees cannot be missed.  The majestic building with her imposing look, is an art by itself. The building, which is now the Officers Mess, was erected by the Govt of Madras in 1815 and for nearly a century was used as the Officers Mess of the Madras Artillery, a Corps, which on many battlefields did much to add to the renown of the Madras Army and was intimately connected with the good name and fame of the Madras Presidency.

Since 1952, the Mess has been used by various garrison units located in Madras .  In 1962, the building was handed over to the OTA on its inception.

The architecture is typically Victorian having massive vertical columns for the façade and beautiful arches bordered with intricate designs in the three main halls inside.  The wonder is that the building has retained its grandeur though it  has endured many a madras summers and been a witness to many historical events over a period of time. 

The sprawling newly laid lawn in front of the Officers Mess, the majestic artificial waterfalls and bright illumination have all added to the pristine glory of the building.  Every article on display has a history intertwined with it and a story to narrate.

Flag Staff House
 
A dream house of every officer!  The House holds its own symbolism, hub of every activity in the OTA and is an important landmark. 

The present Flag Staff House was constructed in 1928, constructed at an incredibly low cost of Rs.14,000/- only.  It was earlier used as the residence of various Garrison Commanders of the Madras Presidency Army.  Since 1952, it has housed the Commanders of the Army Garrison located at St Thomas Mount.  Since the inception of the Officers Training Academy in 1962, the building is being used as the Flag Staff House of the Commandants of the Academy.

Genesis

The genesis of OTA can be traced back to the Second World War, when the necessity of training selected Indians for the commissioned ranks in the Army was felt inevitable.  As many as seven Officers Training Schools were established in India during the period 1942-45. However these were closed down after the War.  In the wake of the Chinese Aggression in October 1962, a National Emergency was declared and the requirement of more number of officers in the Army was felt. Due to paucity of time, the Government decided to recruit Emergency Commissioned Officers and hence two Officers Training Schools were established – one at Madras and the other at Poona in January 1963. The school at Poona was closed down on 09 May 1964 but the one at Madras continued to function.

Inception and Growth

The setting up process of OTS at Madras began in September 1962 and the first Emergency Commission (EC) course began with a complement of 442 young Indians. Their training  began in this prestigious institution on 15 Jan 1963 . Brig Ram Singh the first Commandant alongwith Shri C Subramaniam, the then Union Minister for Steel and Heavy Industries, formally inaugurated it with an inspiring speech that has proved prophetic time and again.

"I have no doubt that when history comes to be written, it will be said that our young men of today did not fail to rise to the occasion and they came forward in thousands for the defence of this country."

The Emergency Commission courses continued till April 1965 and EC–12 was the last  course to pass out. When the Emergency Commission Courses were discontinued, OTS started training Gentlemen Cadets for Short Service Commission(SSC). The scheme also included SSC Course (compulsory liability scheme) for Class I and II Gazetted Officers of the Central Government and Public Undertakings. The scheme ended in 1968 when SSC courses for Technical Arms and Services were  introduced. In the seventies few essential infrastructural developments  like Swimming Pool, Auditorium, Science Block and Laboratories, Drill Square , Cadets Mess, Weapon Training sheds were

created to facilitate GC's training. Inspite of the acute shortage of accommodation and limited training facilities, OTS successfully conducted Special List (SL) Officers Course - Serial-1 in 1970 and Serial-2 in 1973-74.

NDA Wing at OTS

One of the highlights during 1975-76 was the opening of the NDA Wing at the OTS to train the overflow of successful NDA candidates for a Three Year Degree Course.  An Experts Committee of Jawahar Lal Nehru University visited to assess the suitability of the campus for running the course.  Hectic activity preceded the induction of  the 55th  Regular Course into the OTS to build necessary infrastructure in conformity with the requirements laid down by JNU Expert Committee.  This additional task was completed by  July 1977.

Revision of Curriculum

In late seventies and early eighties, noticeable emphasis was laid on Physical Training, Swimming and Drill. Various innovative ideas were given practical shape. In Academic subjects, special attention was given to teach phonetics to correct the regional angularities of GCs. Special emphasis was also laid on development of leadership and management skills including IT. The traditional method of chalk and talk was supplemented with extensive use of  CBTs audio-visual aids like overhead and slide projectors, CCTV and Epidiascope.

Upgrading Appointment  

The unique feature of the year 1982 was the upgradation of the appointments of the Commandant, the Deputy Commandant and  Chief Instructor and the Head of the Academic Department.  The Short Service Commission course was here to stay, but the course for Technical Arms and Services was discontinued with effect from 18 March 1982 . Several courses for Special List Officers and Regimental Commissioned officers were also conducted. In addition, several cadets from Sri Lanka were trained in the year 1980.

OTS Re-named as OTA

In 1985, the institution was granted permanent status and proposal was sent to convert the School to an Academy. The much awaited approval from Army HQ  was received on the New Year’s Eve. A Special Sainik Sammelan was held on 01 January 1988 in the auditorium as a part of the Silver Jubilee Celebrations, where Maj Gen N Vishwanathan, the then  Commandant, announced this significant re-naming from OTS to the Officers Training Academy (OTA), placing the Academy at par with the Indian Military Academy and the National Defence Academy.

Roshni

In 1987 the OTA song 'Roshni' was composed by the combined efforts of Sub SP Gautam, GCs and Officers and subsequently given final shape under the benign guidance of the then Commandant Maj Gen N Vishwanathan .

Silver Jubilee Celebration

The Academy celebrated its Silver Jubilee in January 1988.His Excellency Shri C Subramaniam, the Governor of Maharashtra who had inaugurated the Academy in 1963 as Union Minister, presided over the Silver Jubilee Celebrations of OTA on 15 January 1988 and released the First Day Cover.

Colour Presentation 

The coveted Presidential Colours to the Academy was presented on 18 August 1990 by His Excellency Shri R Venkataraman, the then President of India. Thus the OTA has had the taste of that unique honour, which guides, inspires and acts as an impetus to greater laurels, as we grow from strength to strength in the unique and time honoured tradition of the Indian Army

Induction of Women in Officer Cadre

In 1992 the other landmark in the history of OTA was the induction of women into the officer cadre, and the onerous task of training them was undertaken by the  Officers Training Academy . So far, around 1200 Lady Cadets have already been commissioned into the various Arms and Services of the Indian Army.

Finalisation of Permanent Location

The OTA has remained in temporary accommodation ever since it came into  existence  and its demand for a permanent location was going on for a long time. The year 1999 was a turning point in the history of OTA  when General VP Malik, PVSM, AVSM, ADC, the then Chief of the Army Staff, announced in his press briefing on 04 September 1999 that the Officers Training Academy will be permanently located in Chennai with enhanced capacity to train 750 cadets as against the existing 500 cadets. The Key Location Plan (KLP) has been finalized and is being executed in a phased manner.

Revised Terms  and Conditions of Service of SSCOs(Men and Women both Technical and Non-Technical)

Prominent features of the revised policy are :-

(a)      Extension of Tenure

(i)     Tenure of Short Service Commission.  Short Service Commission (SSC), in the Regular Army will be granted for 14 years i.e. for an initial period of 10 years, extendable by 4 years.

(ii)     Duration of Training.    49 weeks.

(b)      Substantive Promotion :-   SSCOs will be eligible for substantive promotion wef 16 Dec 2004 .  

(i)     To the rank of Capt - on completion of 2 years reckonable commissioned service.   

(ii)    To the rank of Maj  - on completion of 6 years reckonable  commissioned service.

(iii)   To the rank of Lt Col -  on completion of 13 years reckonable commissioned service.  

Standardisation of Syllabus  

The syllabus of OTA has been standardised at par with IMA. This standardised syllabus has been implemented from the SSC-70 course onwards to optimise the training standards. However, revision of  syllabus is done at regular intervals as per directions of Higher HQ.  

Counter Insurgency Training  

On commissioning from OTA, a  large  number   of  young officers, join units involved in Counter  Insurgency Operations (CI Ops), in North East and J&K.  A jungle lane shooting  range and  grenade  lobbing  area  have been made to give  realistic  CI  Ops  training  to   the  cadets. A  mock up village  has been constructed  near  P Hill  for  training  of  cadets  in CI Ops. Cadets  are now being  imparted  practical  training  under  realistic  conditions to undertake clearing of  a house/hideout so that they are fully  conversant with the drills involved when they join their units in CI Ops Areas.

Computer Lab

One of the major achievements of the OTA in the year 1999 has been establishment of a state of the art Computer Lab with Smart Class and procurement of 51 Pentium Computers and allied peripherals for computer training of the cadets. A Local Area Network with 27 nodes connecting both the Battalions and nearly all of the Branches and Sections of the Academy has been established, paving the way for full automation of the OTA.

OTA Alumni Association  

In order to have a link as well as interaction between OTA and ex OTA officers, it has been decided to form an OTA Alumni Association functioning from the Alma Mater. This idea of forming an Alumni Association was conceived by Maj Gen GH Israni, VSM, a former Commandant of the Academy.

Sports Achievements

The Alumni from Officers Training Academy have also made their mark in sports. In 1973, Battalion Under Officer Harcharan Singh, was one of the star performers in the Indian Hockey team that took part in the World Cup Hockey Championship at Amsterdam . Later he represented India at 1976 Olympics. He was awarded the Arjuna Award in 1981. Capt Romeo James represented the Indian Hockey team as the star goalkeeper, at Los Angles Olympics.

In the year 1983 Officers Training School (OTS) Polo team won the Madras Gold Vase by defeating 61 Cavalry by a handsome margin. The team also won the Grand Kolanka Cup, which  has  its unique place in the Guinness Book of World Records, as the tallest cup in the World. GC Rohit Dagar of OTA won 3 gold and 2 silver medals in the National Equestrian Championship held at Chennai from 16-27 Dec 99. The OTA team also won a bronze medal in tent pegging competition.

Honours and Awards  

In keeping with the spirit of professionalism and patriotism inculcated by their Alma Mater, the alumni of the OTA have distinguished themselves with numerous honours and gallantry awards. These include Maj R Parameshwaran (Posthumous), the lone recipient of the Param Vir Chakra in OP PAWAN, who made the supreme sacrifice displaying the most conspicuous gallantry. 2 Lt SS Samra and Major (Now Brig) KS Chandpuri won Maha Vir Chakras(MVC) during 1971 War and Major Jasram Singh and Capt JS Raina were awarded Ashok Chakras during Counter Insurgency Operations  in  the  North  East. Lt  Rajeev  Sandhu  who was posthumously

awarded Mahar Vir Chakra in OP PAWAN, Major KG Chatterjee who won Maha Vir Chakra in SIACHEN Operations and 2 Lt (now Col ) CA Pithawalla who won Ashok Chakra in Counter Insurgency Operations are some of the officers the Academy is proud of. In the Kargil operations the Alumni of OTA won four Maha Vir Chakras. Major Padmapani Acharya (Posthumous), Lt Balwan Singh, Major Sonam Wang Chuk and Lt Keishing Clifford Nongrum (Posthumous) are the recipients of this prestigious award.

 

The tally of  gallantry awards won by the alumini is as under :-

(a)     Param Vir Chakra       01
        
(b)     Ashok Chakra            04
       
(c)     Maha Vir Chakra         09
 
(d)      Kirti Chakra               06
        
(e)      Vir Chakra                 51

(f)       Sháurya Chakra         31

(g)      Sena Medal               241

The Officers Training Academy has served the nation with distinction for the past 44 years. The Academy turns out of her portals every six months a constant flow of competent officers and responsible citizens, capable of shouldering their responsibilities as junior leaders of the Army. Till now, nearly 20,000 Gentlemen and Lady cadets have been commissioned from the OTA, taking the final step to fill the echelons of our glorious Army. In addition, 41 foreign cadets from Sri Lanka and 08 from Uganda have been commissioned.

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