The NCC has its genesis in the University Corps (UC) which was created under the Indian Defence Act, 1917, with the object to make up the shortages of the Army. In 1920, when the Indian Territorial Act was passed, the University Corps was replaced by the University Training Corps (UTC). In 1942, the UTC was renamed as the University Officers’ Training Corps (UOTC). The need to create a youth organisation at National level to train the young boys and girls to be better citizens and future leaders of our country in all walks of life, including defence forces, was rightly realised by our leaders. A Committee under Pandit HN Kunzru was set up in 1946 at the behest of our first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Recommendations of this Committee paved the way for the formation of NCC. Thus, the National Cadet Corps (NCC) came into existence on 15 July 1948 under the National Cadet Corps Act (No.XXXI of 1948) enacted by the Parliament. In a nutshell, the NCC of Independent India was inaugurated on 15 July 1948. The enrolment was open to both school and college/university students.
Initially, the Senior Division (Boys in College/ University) and Junior Division (Boys in School) were raised. In 1949, the Girls Division was raised in order to give equal opportunities to school and college going girls. The NCC was given an inter-service image in 1950 when the Air Wing was added, followed by the Naval Wing in 1952. In same year, the NCC curriculum was extended to include community development/social service activities as a part of the NCC syllabus at the behest of Late Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who took keen interest in the growth of the NCC. Following the Chinese Aggression, to meet the requirement of the Nation, the NCC training was made compulsory in 1963. However, on the resistance of students against compulsory NCC training and also on the suggestions of some Vice-Chancellors in 1968, the Corps was again made voluntary. The Corps which started in a small way with a strength of 1.67 lakhs cadets has now grown to more than 13 lakhs. The network of 774 NCC units is spread all over the country through 4880 Colleges and 7783 Schools.
The Cadet Corps Committee which was formed on 29 Sep 1946 with Pt HN Kunzru as chairman held six meetings in South Block, New Delhi. At the same time, Pt HN Kunzru formed sub-committees which were sent on study tours in all the main provinces of pre-independent India including provinces which are now located in Bangladesh and Pakistan. One sub-committee was also sent on tour to Great Britain and France from 15 Feb 1947 to 31 Mar 1947 to study the Youth and Cadet organisations in those countries.
The Cadet Corps Committee carried out exhaustive study of the problem of youth in India. Its sub-committees after their tour at home and abroad submitted their report to the Govt of India in Mar 1947. Soon after the report was submitted, a far reaching political development began to impact the country, due to which the Cadet Corps Scheme had to be kept in abeyance. The religious strife which then was at its zenith, ultimately led to the partition of the country into India and Pakistan.
On the stroke of midnight of 14/15 Aug 1947, India achieved her independence. Immediately after independence, India was confronted with problems of formidable magnitude concerning not only repatriation of millions of displaced persons from Pakistan but also a full scale invasion of Kashmir by the Armed tribesmen supported by Pakistan. The armed forces had to rush to retrieve Kashmir at a time when they were already pre-occupied with the internal problem of maintaining law and order during the country's initial stage of consolidation
The war in Kashmir and the consequent loss of a portion of Indian territory; the open support of Western Powers to Pakistan in the Security Council of the United Nations, made it more than evident to the Indian leaders that they not only had to strengthen the Armed Forces but also create sufficient strength of reserves, who could take up arms, when required. The gravity of time and event found expression in the Indian Legislature through anxious and pressing demand for military training of young men and women throughout the country.
At this juncture, Prime Minister Pt Jawahar Lal Nehru at the behest of Sardar Baldev Singh, the then Defence Minister and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, then Home Minister, took out the Kunzuru Committee Report for a serious study from the shelves of the Defence Department. On 05 Dec 1947, after being approved by the Defence Committee the copy of the Cadet Corps Committee Report was sent to the Chief Secretaries and Chief Commissioners of all Provincial Govts (now called State Govts) for their comments. The consent of Provincial Govts were required because they were responsible for the administration of the educational institutions in their respective provinces and thus the success of the Cadet Corps scheme largely depended on their initiatives. Replies received from the provinces in Jan 1948, show that they all agreed in principal with the Cadet Corps Scheme submitted by the Kunzuru Committee.
The Kashmir War of 1948 taught a very important lesson to India, that freedom needs to be protected by strong Armed Forces. Its immediate manifestation was that the recommendations of Kunzuru committee were placed before the Constituent Assembly (Legislature) on 13 March 1948. A draft Bill was sent to the Constituent Assembly (Legislative) on 19 March 1948, which evoked great interest and enthusiasm amongst all members. After due deliberations and amendments, the Bill was passed by the Assembly on 08 April 1948. The Central Govt accepted the opinion of the Provincial Govts and the Standing Committee's recommendations for the formation of a Cadet Corps which was to be named as "National Cadet Corps", as recommended by the Kunzuru Committee.
The Bill received the assent of the Governor General on 16 April 1948, and the National Cadet Corps came into being by an Act of the Parliament Act No. XXXI of 1948 designated 'The National Cadet Corps Act 1948'. This Act with 13 clauses, prescribed the formation of the National Cadet Corps in India.
The first step in the process of raising of the NCC was setting up of the NCC Secretariat now called Headquarters Directorate General NCC. In fact, even before the NCC Bill was passed by the Constituent Assembly (Legislative), the Ministry of Defence had set up the nucleus of the NCC Secretariat, with Col (later retired as Chief of Army Staff) Gopal Gurunath Bewoor as the first Director of the NCC. He took over as the Director of NCC on 31 March 1948.
The schools and colleges opened after summer vacation and the NCC of Independent India was inaugurated on 15 July 1948. The journey of this Indian youth organisation, which has now become the largest uniformed youth organisation in the world had begun .
In the year 1948 a total of 96 units of Senior Division were raised, comprising variety of units to include one Armoured Corps, three Artillery, five Engineers, two Signals and two Medical - and 83 companies of Infantry. As there was some delay in the establishment of NCC in UP, Madras and Bihar, whose Govts wanted every student joining NCC to be verified by police prior to enrollment, only 20,000 cadets had joined the NCC in the year 1948. The raising of the Junior Division units did not progress well owing to shortage of trained school teachers. The main difficulty was that adequate number of teachers of the desired quality did not come forward to work as NCC officers. There were various administrative reasons attributed to this. Sometimes, colleges and schools were not in a position to spare the teaching staff except during the summer vacation. Thus the NCC which has now13 lakh cadets on its rolls, had started with 20,000 cadets in 1948.