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IAF chief’s special guest: His drill ustad

IAF chief BS Dhanoa introduced guests to Captain Faqir Singh (retd) at the Indian Air Force Day reception attended by PM Narendra Modi, several cabinet ministers and the country’s top military hierarchy.

india Updated: Oct 08, 2018 23:20 IST
Rahul Singh
Rahul Singh
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Indian Air Force,Indian Air Force Day,IAF chief Dhanoa
Honorary Captain Faqir Singh (retd) was perhaps the most special guest at the Indian Air Force Day reception hosted by IAF chief BS Dhanoa at his Akbar Road residence on Monday.(HT Photo)

Honorary Captain Faqir Singh (retd) was perhaps the most special guest at the Indian Air Force Day reception hosted by IAF chief BS Dhanoa at his Akbar Road residence on Monday. The 85-year-old veteran was Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa’s drill ustad (instructor) when he was a teenaged cadet at the Pune-based National Defence Academy in the 1970s.

Drill ustads are considered to be slave-drivers and are feared by cadets. That apart, the bonds forged during training can last a lifetime. “He (Dhanoa) was an extremely disciplined cadet. He was very good at drill. Drill is an important subject. It trains you to follow orders. Whatever order is given has to be followed,” said Singh, who is from 5 Sikh and retired in 1985.

“If you can’t follow orders, you are unfit for military service. Aage goli bhi chal rahi hai, tab bhi hukum maanna padega (you have to follow orders even if bullets are flying all around you),” said Singh, who is from a small village near Adampur in Punjab.

Dhanoa introduced guests to Singh at the reception attended by PM Narendra Modi, several cabinet ministers and the country’s top military hierarchy.

“Nothing can be more honorable for me than being invited by the Air chief to his house for this reception. He has given me so much respect. He was my cadet,” said Singh. He said Army chief General Bipin Rawat was also a cadet at the NDA in the 1970s, but he was in a different squadron.

Singh recalled that Dhanoa cleared the all-important Drill Square Test in the first attempt. “Some people take two chances, some take three. But ultimately all of them clear it,” he said.

Dhanoa had travelled to Adampur for a Presidential function last year. Then too, he had invited Faqir Singh to be a part of that ceremonial event.

First Published: Oct 08, 2018 23:01 IST