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Gen VK Singh's last speech: 'A soldier has to have right kind of moral and ethical values'

By Gen VK Singh
May 30, 2012 12:34 IST
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A day prior to his retirement as Army Chief, Gen VK Singh addressed the passing-out parade of the National Defence Academy, his alma mater, on Wednesday. We present an excerpt from his speech to the young cadets

It is indeed a privilege and a matter of great pride for me to review the Passing Out Parade of 122nd NDA course today. It also reminds me of a day, years ago when as a part of 36th NDA course, I was standing where you are today.

After having witnessed this excellent Passing Out Parade I would like to compliment all cadets for smart and immaculate turnout as well as the energetic, synchronised and lively drill displayed. The successful organisation of the Passing Out Parade is the culmination of one of the most challenging, gruelling and exciting periods in your career in the Armed Forces.

I convey my felicitations to the commandant, all officers, instructors and other members of the faculty of this premier institution, whose relentless efforts have brought about the successful culmination of your training. This magnificent joint services institution has a glorious history of producing men who have always displayed physical and moral courage in face of extreme challenges. I am sanguine that you all would match up to the standards set by your predecessors.

As you pass out from the hallowed portals of this academy, you should remember that you are commencing an exciting journey in the armed forces. For three years you have successfully undertaken a challenging, tough and arduous journey braving the hectic schedule of academics, physical training and various extracurricular activities. The training was aimed at making you mentally tough and physical fit to face the challenges in the armed forces.

This renowned academy is well known to be the maker of men and leaders. While undergoing the training, you would not have realised that you are being transformed from boys who came out of schools to men who are ready to take on the tough challenges your future career in the armed forces is likely to throw at you.

The faculty in the academy has toiled hard to train, groom and prepare you to be a leader of men in the armed forces. Now, as you pass out, you are taking the first step towards becoming a military leader. Remember, that military leaders at any level must have dedication and commitment to the service. He should be able to lead his troops by setting an example in all trials and tribulations.

 Time and again, our officers who have passed out from this academy have proved that leaders can indeed be made, by a display of exemplary leadership and raw courage under extremely challenging circumstances. I am sure you are well prepared to tread the same path and strive to achieve excellence through constant self improvement.

The career in the armed forces is the only profession, where leadership requires the leader to motivate his men to make the ultimate sacrifice for a national cause. In battle, the military leader is expected to lead from the front and to set an example, he is expected to make the ultimate sacrifice if the situation warrants. No wonder, the unique profession of arms is considered 'the noblest of them all'.

I will quote from Rudyard Kipling's poem If:

If you can dream -- and not make dreams your master;

If you can think -- and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with Kings -- nor lose the common touch,

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

If all men count with you, but none too much;

Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,

And -- which is more -- you'll be a Man, my son!

Most importantly, a military leader has to have the right kind of moral and ethical values.  In no case, self will get precedence over the organisation; never shall personal gains, override official and professional needs. Please keep it in your mind that it is your sacred duty to uphold the stature, honour and the glorious tradition of the armed forces at all times.

In your career, you would have to make difficult choices; your decision has to be always guided by the motto of NDA – 'Service Before Self'-- and the 'Harder Right than the Easier Wrong' phrase as recited by you in the NDA prayer.

You should remember the ethos which has been ingrained into you and the huge responsibility you have to uphold the name and reputation of this elite group of ex-NDAs and thorough professionals. Today as you pass out, you have the right to feel proud and are entitled to bask in the satisfaction of a job well done.  You are fortunate to join the ranks of the armed forces in exciting times.

India is surging forward and making an impact on the world at large while we face varied security challenges and you are forming part of its prestigious armed forces. Let each one of you feel the vibrancy and adrenalin run through you as you realise that you can do something remarkable and extraordinary. You all should be aware of the enormous capacity and capability you possess, to make a positive impact on your organizations, your societies and your countries.

Jai Hind!
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