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Rediff.com  » Getahead » 'I want to command the respect of my men, not demand it'

'I want to command the respect of my men, not demand it'

By ARCHANA MASIH
Last updated on: June 09, 2023 20:45 IST
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Anshu Kumar, 21, son of government school teachers from a village in Bihar, won the President's Silver Medal at the NDA.
He commanded the grand passing out parade last week and will go on to join the Indian Navy.

IMAGE: Academy Cadet Captain Anshu Kumar. All Photographs: Kind courtesy ACC Anshu Kumar

Academy Cadet Captain Anshu Kumar, 21, who hails from a small village in Bihar's Gopalganj district, was awarded the silver medal at the National Defence Academy in Khadakvasla.

He was adjudged second in the overall order of merit among the 356 cadets that passed out after three years of rigorous training at India's premier defence training institute last week.

The Academy Cadet Captain is the senior-most cadet appointment at the NDA. He was also adjudged the best among the 26 naval cadets that graduated from the academy.

"He has fulfilled a dream I had even before he was born -- seeing him as the parade commander of the passing out parade and receiving the medal was greater than any dream I have ever had," says his mother Pramila Singh, principal of a government school in Mohammadpur, Gopalganj district.

As parade commander, every move of the entire two-hour parade was executed under Anshu's command. It was under his booming instructions that the drill and march past was conducted. He also accompanied the chief guest, Chief of Defence Staff General Anil Chauhan, to review the parade.

The only son of primary school teachers, Anshu was schooled in a Hindi medium school before his selection into the Sainik School, Gopalganj in Class 6. Admission into Sainik Schools is through an all-India entrance test.

The school in Gopalganj was established in the year Anshu was born. Since then, his mother had nurtured the desire that her son should join that school one day.

"There was no other good school where we lived and the Sainik School was the best chance of getting a sound education. My mother asked me to prepare and try my best to compete," says Anshu over the phone from his home where he is spending a few weeks before joining the Naval Academy in Ezhimala, Kerala, at the end of the month.

 

IMAGE: Every move of the two-hour parade was executed under Anshu's command. It was under his booming instructions that the drill and march past was conducted.

Five out of 52 boys from his batch at the Sainik School were selected for the NDA. There are 25 Sainik Schools in India that provide education to students from a largely rural background. The role of the schools is to prepare boys -- and now girls -- to join the NDA.

Anshu did well in academics, excelled in sports, gained proficiency in speaking English and was selected for the NDA in the first attempt.

"I learnt an entirely different way of life at the three years spent at the Academy," says Anshu who was awarded a merit card for athletics and proficiency in drill at NDA.

In military-speak 'drill is the bedrock of discipline'.

IMAGE: Anshu Kumar accompanies Chief of Defence Staff General Anil Chauhan and Vice Admiral Ajay Kochhar, Commandant, NDA, at the passing out parade.

Anshu is the first person from his extended family to join the armed forces. When he entered the NDA, he was allotted the 'Bravo Squadron' which became his biggest source of inspiration.

Cadets are divided into 18 squadrons at the Academy; the honour of the squadron is supreme -- and this is where cadets forge lifelong bonds of camaraderie.

"As you enter Bravo squadron there is a board with the names of 60 military heroes that belonged to the squadron, the highest number in the academy. It is the only squadron with a Param Vir Chakra and Ashok Chakra," says Anshu with pride.

Captain Gurbachan Singh Salaria was killed in action on a UN Peacekeeping Mission in Congo in 1961. He is the only Indian soldier deployed as a UN Peacekeeper to be awarded the Param Vir Chakra, India's highest medal for gallantry.

Second Lieutenant Rakesh Singh was killed in action fighting terrorists in Shopian, Jammu and Kashmir, in 1992. He was only 22 and is the youngest recipient of the Ashok Chakra.

"The motivation level of the squadron is very high because of these brave men," says Anshu.

IMAGE: From a village school to the portals of India's finest military institutions, Anshu Kumar's journey is the story of a young man's will to succeed and excel.

In the 6th and final term, he was shifted to the newly constituted Quebec squadron. The new squadron comprises cadets from all squadrons.

The NDA provides training for the army, navy and air force, but cadets predominantly live the life of an army cadet in the first four terms. The final two terms provides exposure to their chosen service subjects.

Anshu chose the navy because he was influenced early on by his school principal and seniors who had served in the Indian Navy.

IMAGE: CDS General Anil Chauhan awards Anshu Kumar the President's Silver Medal as NDA Commandant Vice Admiral Ajay Kochhar looks on.

As he travels to Ezhimala to join the Naval Academy for year-long training, one of the first things that will change for him is the salute. The naval salute is slightly different from the army salute that was practiced at NDA. The uniform will change to white from khaki. The drill will also be different.

Looking forward to the next stage of training, Anshu says he wants to be an officer where he can accomplish any task/challenge assigned to him in the best possible way.

"I want to command the respect of my men, not demand it," he says confidently.

IMAGE: Anshu Kumar with his father and mother Pramila Singh.

Since his return home for the short holiday, Anshu has had many queries from young people in the village about joining the NDA. His advice to them is to learn the basics well and concentrate on Mathematics, Science, Social Science, communication skills and personality development.

"Those are the basic requirements for the Service Selection Board interview," says Anshu who likes playing football and basketball.

Football legend Christiano Ronaldo and basketball star Stephen Curry are his favourite sportsmen.

"I enjoy reading science fiction. My favourite writers are Suzanne Collins, Orson Scott Card, Dan Brown."

"The busy schedule at NDA did not spare much time to read and I intend to catch up on my reading before the round of training begins," he says with a laugh.

From a village school to the portals of India's finest military institutions, Anshu Kumar's journey is the story of a young man's will to succeed and excel. It is also a story that we should all be proud of.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com

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ARCHANA MASIH / Rediff.com