During the ceremony, lady cadet Raveena Punia created history by winning the gold medal, while the coveted Sword of Honour was received by Siddarth Singh. Cadets Sona Dechamma and Utkarsh Singh won the silver and bronze medals respectively, while the Naushera Company was chosen for the COAS Banner for Champion Company.
In all, 252 officer cadets, including 198 gentleman cadets and 38 lady cadets, were commissioned as officers in the Indian Army. In addition, six cadets from Bhutan, eight from Afghanistan, and two from Fiji also completed training at the OTA here.
Lieutenant General Abhay Krishna, the Commanding-in Chief (Eastern command) reviewed the parade commanded by Academy Under Officer Utkarsh Singh.
Besides these young personnel, there one contingent that caught the attention at the ceremony was a group of 20 students from a government college in the strife-torn Jammu and Kashmir, who are on a 9-day outreach tour organised by the Centre to make them aware of the opportunities available to them.
“A handful people in my team now wanted to join the army. But I wanted to be a civil servant. This whole country belongs to us. We can achieve anything that we aspire to be,” said Akil Jaffer, one of the student.
Undaunted by failures, Bhutan farmer’s son keeps dream alive
Gyam Dorji, one of the officer cadets among the four trainees from Bhutan, had nurtured the dream to be an army officer since his childhood.
A first-generation army man, Gyam said, “My father, Tashi, is a farmer in Bhutan. There is no one in my family with an army background. I enjoyed the training in OTA except for the harsh weather of the city. I had a tough time coping with it. I started attending the examination soon after my graduation. After consecutive failures, I was finally selected for training at the OTA campus last year.”
On his batch mates, Gyam said, “I enjoyed every minute spent with my teammates. They are like my family now.”
When enquired about what he takes with him after 48 weeks of rigorous training in OTA, he said, “The sessions instilled discipline in me. I understood this is the most important attribute to succeed in any walks of life. Along with it, they imparted us essential human values during the training. I am grateful for undergoing training here.” Gyam Dorji will be commissioned as an officer in the Bhutanese army.
They gave up corporate dreams for defense career
Among the cadets who passed out were dozens of engineering graduates, who gave up their dreams of landing in a high-paying jobs in multinational companies to serve the nation.
Gokul Pillai went one step further: he gave up a lucrative IT job to join the army. A native of Thrissur, Kerala, the B Tech graduate always wanted to serve the nation. “It was the only aim in my life. I had kept my job as the plan B,” he said.
Malvika Rawat, daughter of CISF Commandant TS Rawat, had completed her B Tech in Computer Science but knew from childhood that she wanted to join the army. “Many of my family members are in the army, except my father who joined the paramilitary forces. I am following in the footsteps of those who inspired me to take up this career.”
B Kishan from Coimbatore is a civil engineering graduate who was inspired by his father who retired from the Navy. “I was sure that I am going to carve a career for myself where I will be able to serve the nation. My elder brother motivated me throughout the journey, helping me realise my childhood dream.”
Shilpa Tiwari, daughter of Squadron leader SL Tiwari, a B Tech graduate has a similar story. “I want more women to join the army.”
Army man’s widow gets ready to serve nation
Her calm and composed demeanour while rejoicing the moment with her 4-year-old daughter belied the peculiarity of this lady cadet from Jammu: Neeru Sambyal’s husband, Virendar Singh, was an army man who died while in service.
“When my husband was alive, he always reminded me that his unit was our second family. This stayed with me even after his death. I wanted to maintain this family for my daughter, too. Then, I decided to appear for the examination and become an army officer,” said the native of Sambar in Jammu.
Her husband died of a heat stroke during the late stage of his career. “The unit stood by me when I announced my decision. They helped me in every possible way. There were many ups and downs during the journey. But other cadets kept me going. During the training, many were injured and sustained fractures, but still went ahead and completed it. I kept telling myself that I can do it if they can.”
Neeru said the training made her strong, both mentally and physically. “They prepared us to face the tough challenges that are awaiting us.”
About to join a demanding career, she knows this would have a bearing on his little daughter. “I know she is going to live alone. I want her to be strong like me. I am happy that I followed in the footsteps of my late husband.”
“I am proud of my daughter, who has built a new life for her. It is her duty to serve the country now,” said her father SD Singh.