Meet the girl who topped NDA’s 1st women’s batch

Published on Jun 25, 2022 07:48 PM IST

Shanan Dhaka, the 19-year-old Haryana girl says she wants to do her best and perform well at NDA’s first women’s batch.

Shanan Dhaka, topper of NDA’s first women’s batch, says her family has always been supportive and encouraged her to work hard since the beginning.
Shanan Dhaka, topper of NDA’s first women’s batch, says her family has always been supportive and encouraged her to work hard since the beginning.
By, New Delhi

Shanan Dhaka, 19, from Rohtak district in Haryana, recently made headlines when she secured the first rank among female candidates in the entrance examination for the National Defence Academy (NDA). Given that the NDA would be admitting female cadets to the academy for the first time, her accomplishment has been hailed as monumental.

“I am extremely happy, but this comes with a great responsibility,” asserts the youngster when we catch up with her.

As per government figures, of the 5,75,856 applicants for the entrance exam, 1,77,654 were women. The exam was held in November last year, and women were only allowed to sit for it after a Supreme Court direction to the Centre in September. Dhaka says, “Finally, girls will be entering the NDA. We have to do our best and perform well at the academy so that we can prove to the world that this was the right decision.” 

Dhaka, who enrolled in an undergraduate BA programme at Lady Shri Ram College for Women last year, recalls growing up in a household where her grandfather, Chanderbhan Dhaka, was a Subedar and her father, Vijay Kumar Dhaka, retired as a Naib Subedar from the Army Service Corps. “There was one saying that my father and grandfather always used to say, ‘Fauji fauji hi rehta hai, bhale woh retire ho jaaye’. Fauji fauj chorr deta hai par fauj kabhi fauji ko nahin chorrti hai. You’re always there, and it’s like a family. I always wanted to join this family,” shares Dhaka.

She goes on, “My family’s upbringing has been very humble. They have been very supportive of me. From childhood, we were encouraged to work hard. My family and everyone are from the Army background and have adapted to the Army lifestyle and its gender neutrality despite my background being from Haryana. I have been treated in a gender-neutral manner at home since the beginning. My teachers always praised me equally [as the boys]. If I can do it, others can do it too. Just have confidence and do not lose it amid ups and downs. Just keep going, and have faith that you will not turn back midway.”

 Tell her about the love she’s receiving on social media, and she reveals that she doesn’t use Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. “I don’t know about them. But when you are doing something which you like, you don’t feel like ki main yeh sacrifice kar rahi hoon iss kaam ke liye. You feel that this is the work I really want to do, and other things don’t matter to me. [My focus] was like chidiya ki aankh,” concludes Dhaka, who currently resides in Zirakpur, Punjab.  

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    Naina Arora writes on City, Art and Culture of Gurugram, for the daily Entertainment & Lifestyle supplement, HT City

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