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Param Vir Chakra winner urges Punjab village kids to join NCC

“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,” says Naib Subedar Sanjay Kumar at Miltary Literature Fest

punjab Updated: Dec 09, 2017 20:25 IST
Yojana Yadav
Yojana Yadav
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Param Vir Chakra,Indian Air Force,Saragarhi
Schoolchildren from Sanghol village in Fatehgarh Sahib district and cadets with Naib Subedar Sanjay Kumar (centre), 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 (PVC) winners of the Indian Army, at the Saragarhi Samvad on the sidelines of the Military Literature Festival 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.

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 havethe 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.

Schoolchildren and cadets listen to Naib Subedar Sanjay Kumar, a Param Vir Chakra awardee, during an interaction at the Military Literature Festival in Chandigarh on Saturday. (HT Photo)

His brief to the children is simple: “Ghar ka khana khao aur roz PThona 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 thosewho 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 himfor a photo.

First Published: Dec 09, 2017 20:25 IST