Which is better, NDA or CDS?

A lot of students studying in our campus have constantly asked us which stream of the Indian Armed Forces is better in terms of duty, training, degrees, rank, etc. Although, as an officer, one can always join the Indian Army through various recruitment processes which are all different among them but the most outreached and trustworthy recruitment process of all is the National Defence Academy and Combined Defence Service exam.

Here, we will differentiate and analyse the factors present in both of these recruitment examination processes and will conclude that which of these two is better to join. But keep that in mind, both of these are exceptionally well and highly respected procedures for anybody who wishes to join the Indian Armed Forces one day.

For starters, let’s go through the basic difference and similarities between the two –

Parameter

NDA CDS
Age 16.5-19.5 Years 19-25 Years
Eligibility Only Men can Apply Men & Women both can Apply
Educational Qualification Candidate should have a 10+2 Certificate Candidate should be Graduate
Scheme of Examination Written exam + SSB interview Written exam + SSB interview
Frequency of the Exam Conducted Twice a Year Conducted Twice a Year
Training Centres National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla, Pune

Indian Military Academy, Dehradun

Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala

Indian Air Force Academy, Hyderabad

Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun for Army Cadets

Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala for Navy Cadets

Indian Air Force Academy, Hyderabad for Air Force Officers

Officers Training Academy (OTA), Chennai

Degrees awarded Army Cadets – B.Sc./ B.Sc. (Computer)/BA / B.Tech degree

Naval Cadets – B.Tech degree

Air Force Cadets – B.Tech degree

Army Cadets in IMA – PG Diploma in ‘Military and Defence Management

OTA Chennai – Post Graduate Diploma in Defence Management and Strategic Studies

 

Rank assigned after the training completes Lieutenant

Lieutenant

 

Also, we’ve been told when we asked our students that why they opted for NDA and not CDS and vice versa, most of them told us about the major difference in their training period which is somewhat reasonable.

NDA training time period is approx. 36 months. In CDS training time is during 12 months to 18 months. It is a big reason to worry that training of NDA is tougher in comparison to CDS.

The aspirants who completes their graduation and applies for CDS and join IMA undergoes 1½ year training at IMA which is  6 months of basic training and then after 6 months, the cadets from NDA joins the CDS candidates for a year and collectively, they all gets commissioned into the Indian Army as Lieutenant.

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.

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.

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

The eventual growth from Lieutenant 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.

 NDA Officer Pay vs. CDS Officer Pay

Rank

NDA Officer Pay (in Rupees) CDS Officer (Total Pay in Rupees)
Rank Pay

Grade Pay

Lieutenant

15,600—39,100/- 5,400/-

56,100 – 1,77,50

Captain

15,600—39,100/- 6,100/-

6,13,00-1,93,900

Major

15,600—39,100/- 6,600/- 6,94,00 – 2,07,200

Lieutenant Colonel

37,400—67,000/- 8,000/-

1,21,200 – 2,12400

Colonel 37,400—67,000/- 8,700/-

1,30,600-2, 15,900

Brigadier

37,400—67,000/- 8,900/- 1,39,600-2,17,600

Major General

37,400—67,000/- 10,000/-

1,44,200-2,18,200

Lieutenant General HAG Scale 67,000/–79,000/-

1, 82, 200-2,24,100

HAG + Scale

75,500/- 80,000/- 2,05,400 – 2,24,400
VCOAS/Army Cdr/ Lieutenant General (NFSG) 80,000/-

2,25,000/-(fixed)

COAS 90,000/- (fixed)

2,25,000/-(fixed)

In addition to the above mentioned pay, the officers in the rank starting from Lieutenant up to Brigadier are eligible for the Military Service Pay (MSP). While a fixed sum of Rs. 6,000/- per month in lieu of MSP for NDA Officers, the CDS Officers get Rs. 15,500 per month.

Besides the Pay and the MSP, the officers are eligible for various allowances. Surprisingly, the allowances offered by the Army, Navy and Air Force to the officers are considered as the major differences for most of the CDS & NDA Exam aspirants.

Comparison between allowances offered to Army officers selected through NDA & CDS and equivalent ranks in Air Force and Navy are as given below.

NDA Officer Allowance vs. CDS Officer Allowance

Type

NDA Officer (in Rupees pm) CDS Officer (in Rupees pm)

Dearness Allowance

Equal to Civilian Gazetted Officers Equal to Civilian Gazetted Officers
Kit Maintenance Allowance 400/-

Subsumed into DA

High Altitude Allowance

1,060/- 3,400 – 25,000/-
Siachen Allowance Not Applicable

42,500/-

Uniform allowance

14,000/- (initial) and 3,000/- (every 3 years) Subsumed into proposed DA

Transport allowance

1,600 – 3,200 /- + DA 3,600 – 7,200 /- + DA
Children Education Allowance Not Applicable

Rs. 2,250/per month/per child for two children from Nursery – XII

The aspirants should note that for the CDS Officers, the newly proposed Daily Allowance (DA) is Rs. 20,000 per month.

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 Officer vs. CDS Officer

Rank/Position

NDA Officers (in Rupees/pm) CDS Officers (in Rupees/pm)

Lieutenant

9,000/-

 

 

25,000/- (fixed)

Captain

11,000/-

Major to Colonel

14,000/-

Brigadier & above

10,500/-

Which is better to join?

Training period is tougher in NDA which eventually shapes an aspirant into a well moulded army brat rather than joining the army after graduating in some other course and finally making up the mind to join the Indian Army using the CDS examination. But the pay scale and officer allowance in CDS is better than NDA. That being said, Both NDA and CDS are better in their own way. All that matters in the end is following your passion and living the life you wanted and dreamt since childhood. Being an army men, wearing that uniform (irrespective of the course you joined for), and above of all, getting hugely respected from everyone that is around you.

Here is the notification for the NDA 01/19 written examination.

Also, Visit our Current Affair Articles and latest exam blogs to get daily updates of the defence world. We also provide books made from our own publication. These books are instilled with the latest trend analysis and comprehensive concepts from the whole syllabus of NDA, CDS, AFCAT and various other courses that are taught in our institution.

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