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Param Vir Chakra winner asks Punjab village kids to join NCC

“The earlier you start the better. If you want to don a uniform, join the National Cadet Corps.”

punjab Updated: Dec 09, 2017 16:50 IST
Yojana Yadav
Yojana Yadav
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Military Literature Festival Chandigarh,Chandigarh,Param Vir Chakra
Schoolchildren from Sanghol village in Fatehgarh Sahib district and NCC cadets with Naib Subedar Sanjay Kumar, a Param Vir Chakra awardee, after an interaction at the Military Literature Festival in Chandigarh on Saturday.(Yojana Yadav/HT)

Gurdheer Singh, 16, wants to join the Indian Air Force but isn’t sure if he can fly that high. The Class 10 student of Government High School at Sanghol in Fatehgarh Sahib district is among the 70 schoolchildren from rural areas of Punjab who had just finished interacting with Naib Subedar Sanjay Kumar, one of the two serving Param Vir Chakra winners of the Indian Army, at the Saragarhi Samvad on the sidelines of the Military Literature Festival in Chandigarh on Saturday.

“How can I say? My mother is a help at an anganwadi centre and my father is a daily wager,” says Gurdheer when asked why he doesn’t want to become a pilot and rule the skies. Poverty may make ambition look audacious but it’s the passion to pursue one’s dreams that makes achievers.

Two second year students from the Mai Bhago Armed Forces Preparatory Institute for Girls interacting with Naib Subedar Sanjay Kumar at the Military Literature Festival in Chandigarh on Saturday. (Yojana Yadav/HT)

Naib Subedar Kumar assures the children that he was also a government school student in Himachal’s Bilaspur district but was focused on joining the army. “I didn’t miss any recruitment drive and joined the army after three attempts in June 1996 when I was 23. It’s important to have an aim and even more important to have the passion to achieve it. The earlier you start the better. If you want to don a uniform, join the National Cadet Corps (NCC),” he tells the students of Classes 9 and 10.

Last moment ki tayyari se kuch nahin milega (Last minute preparations don’t help),” says the gritty winner of the nation’s highest gallantry award. The children listen in rapt attention as he recounts how he took three bullets in the chest and forearm while charging towards the enemy bunker to help capture Area Flat Top during the Kargil War on July 4, 1999. “My aim was clear and nothing came in the way,” he says with a smile.

His brief to the children is simple: “Ghar ka khana khao aur roz PT hona chahiye (Eat home-cooked food and do physical training daily).”

“These days the competition is tough so stay focused and fit. Hundreds apply for one government post. Degrees have lost their value. The value of education has come down,” he says.

“But once you don the uniform, the zeal to serve the nation becomes a part of your being. I would like to see all those who raised their hands to join the forces to come to me for training at the Indian Military Academy (where he is posted),” he adds before the children flock around him for a photo.

First Published: Dec 09, 2017 16:48 IST