NDA vs. CDS

NDA vs. CDS

The tri-services of the Indian Armed Forces – Army, Navy and Air Force are the pillars of India’s defence. They work tirelessly under relentless conditions to protect the country against any possible attack. It is this selfless act of patriotism that has people showering praise, respect and admiration on them. If the defence-life is calling you, then read on.

There are two exams that can help you get through the Indian Armed Forces – The NDA (National Defence Academy) exam and CDS (Combined Defence Services) exam.

Both these exams are conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). Here is a quick look at both these exams:

NDA

On getting through the NDA exam, candidates are required to go through the following training programs:

  • Army candidates – three years at NDA, Pune and one year at IMA (Indian Military Academy), Dehradun – total duration 4 years.
  • Navy candidates – three years at NDA, Pune and one year at the Naval Academy, Kerala – total duration 4 years.
  • Air Force candidates – three years at NDA, Pune and 18 months at Air Force Academy, Hyderabad.

Post completion of the training programs, NDA cadets are awarded B.Sc. / B.Sc. – Computer/ BA/ B. Tech degree and assigned the rank of a Lieutenant.

CDS

On getting through the CDS exam, candidates are required to go through the following training programs:

  • Army candidates – 18 months at IMA (Indian Military Academy), Dehradun.
  • Navy candidates – 37-40 months at Naval Academy, Kerala.
  • Air Force candidates – 74 months at Air Force Academy, Hyderabad.

Post completion of the training programs, the cadets are awarded a Post Graduate Diploma in Military and Defence Management / Post Graduate Diploma in Defence Management and Strategic Studies.

In both cases, cadets are offered a stipend of ₹21,000 per month (fixed) during training.

Officer Badges

On commission, candidates are offered the position of a Lieutenant.

The eventual growth to a Captain, Major, Lieutenant Colonel and Colonel (both selection-based and time-based) is based on the years in commissioned service for officers selected through either exams. However, for the senior ranks of a Brigadier, Major General, Lieutenant General and General, CDS exams offer a time-bound promotion while NDA candidates have to depend on the selection process laid out from time to time.

Salary

There is a huge difference in the salaries offered to officers selected through NDA and CDS. Here is an overview:

Apart from the pay-scale mentioned above, officers from Lieutenant to Brigadier are also paid a Military Service Pay (MSP) –

  • For NDA candidates – MSP = ₹6,000 per month
  • For CDS candidates – MSP = ₹15,500 per month

The following monthly allowances are also offered:

  • Dearness allowance – similar to civilian gazetted officers
  • Kit maintenance allowance – ₹400 for NDA candidates; for CDS this is subsumed into DA
  • High altitude allowance – ₹1,060 for NDA and ₹3,400-25,000 for CDS.
  • Siachen allowance – not applicable for NDA candidates; ₹42,500 for CDS.
  • Uniform allowance – for NDA ₹14,000 initially and ₹3,000 every three years; for CDS this is subsumed into DA
  • Transport allowance – for NDA ₹1,600-3200 + DA; for CDS ₹3,600-7,200 + DA
  • Children education allowance – not applicable for NDA candidates; ₹2,250 per month/ child from nursery to class XII

For CDS officers the newly proposed DA is ₹20,000 per month. Also, Air Force officers are paid an additional qualification and flying allowance.

Qualification Pay

This is similar for both NDA and CDS officers.

  • Master Aviation Instructor → ₹500/- per month
  • Senior Aviation Instructor Class I → ₹400/- per month
  • Senior Aviation Instructor Class II → ₹280/- per month
  • Aviators holding Master Green Card → ₹400/- per month
  • Aviators holding Green Card → ₹280/- per month

Flying allowance

NDA vs CDS Salary