In 1941, Lord Linlithgow, then Governor-General of India received a gift of £100,000 from a grateful Sudanese Government towards building a war memorial in recognition of the sacrifices of Indian troops in the liberation of Sudan in the East African Campaign during World War II. At the end of the war, Field Marshal Claude Auchinleck, then Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army, drawing on experiences of the army during the war, led a committee to study various military academies around the world and submitted a report to the Government of India in Dec. 1946. The committee recommended the establishment of a Joint Services Military Academy, with training modelled on the United States Military Academy at West Point.
After the independence of India in Aug. 1947, the Chiefs of Staff Committee immediately implemented the recommendations of the Auchinleck report. The committee initiated an action plan in late 1947 to commission a permanent defence academy and began the search for a suitable site. It also decided to set up an interim training academy, known as the Joint Services Wing (JSW), which was commissioned on 1 Jan. 1949 at the Armed Forces Academy (now known as the Indian Military Academy) in Dehradun. Initially, after two years of training at the JSW, Army cadets went on to the Military wing of the AFA for two years of further pre-commission training, while the Navy and Air Force cadets were sent to Dartmouth and Cranwell in the United Kingdom for further training.
On January 11, 1949, the First Course, comprising of 190 cadets, started training. The Passing-out-Parade for 172 cadets was held on December 8, 1950. Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma, the first Indian to fly into space, is an alumnus of the National Defence Academy, which he joined as an IAF cadet in 1966.
Following partition, India’s share of the monetary gift received from Sudan, amounted to £70,000 (the remaining £30,000 went to Pakistan). The Indian Army decided to use these funds to partly cover the cost of construction of the NDA. The foundation stone for the academy was laid by then Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru on 6 Oct. 1949. The National Defence Academy was formally commissioned on 7 Dec. 1954, with an inauguration ceremony held on 16 Jan. 1955. The JSW program was transferred from the IMA to the NDA.