Namma Bravehearts Sweat it Out in Their Mission to Capture Delhi
Bangalore: The security posted at the gate of Corps of Military Police (CMP) centre, adjacent to Bangalore Military School on Hosur Road checked our credentials and completed the formalities. An Army officer escorted us to a waiting Gypsy. “Bachche log drill shuru kiya hain (The kids have begun the drill session),” the officer told us. Our 12-hour mission with the 39 Karnataka NCC Battalion just began.
Our first stop was at the drill square, where a gigantic mirror, equal to the size of a wall, welcomed us. Training alongside the cadets were the elite Red Beret of the Military Police. “Ensure that the camera doesn't turn towards the Red Beret,” we were told, reminding us about rules of the game for the day. At the drill square, 126 NCC cadets were perfecting their marching skills under the watchful eyes of senior military officials. The morning sun rays sprayed a fresh coat of gold-like paint on the faces of young boys and girls. These NCC cadets are among the best being selected from Karnataka and Goa, to be part of the Republic Day Contingent (RDC) in Delhi, next month.
“This is the third and final camp and it will go on till December 28. Each camp had a duration of 10 days and we will finally select 105 cadets from this lot, including eight reserves, for RDC. It is a very prestigious event for the cadets as they will be meeting the President, Prime Minister and other top dignitaries in Delhi. There are 61 boys and 44 girls in our camp representing Army, Navy and Air Force wings of NCC,” said Air Commodore C Rajeev, Deputy Director General, NCC Directorate, Karnataka and Goa.
The cadets will be judged for the perfection in their performances in six activities. This includes: drill, best cadet contest, cultural activities (group song, group dance and ballet), flag area competition and NIAP (National
Integration Awareness Projects). “This year, the flag area competition is based on the theme 'Environment conservation in Karnataka'. We will have to make a sand model and depict the problem. A cadet will have to make a speech and reply to the queries. In NIAP, every Directorate will have to make a 20-minute presentation on the respective state. The history, geography, economy, literary groups, administration, places of tourist interest, famous personalities, welfare schemes and culture needs to be captured in a very innovative way. This year, the Contingent Commander is Col P G Nimbalkar,” Rajeev said.
All activities come under the 'RD Banner' with the drill set to fetch maximum points for every contingent during the Prime Minister's Rally on January 28 (2014). The straightness of the body, natural urge and overall bearing of each cadet and as a group is judged. The drill is the basic beacon of the competition. “On January 26, during the Republic Day celebrations at Rajpath, the NCC contingent will also be part of the parade, with the best cadets selected from each directorate,” he added.
The cadets completed their brief tea break and moved on to the next area. Here the preparations were set to begin for the Best Cadet category. Those selected to represent this category wore a red chest number. Those selected from across India during the R-Day event will eventually be part of the YEP (Youth Exchange Programme). “We have chosen 27 cadets and totally nine are selected in Delhi. These nine from our team will join a bigger group on a 10-day trip abroad,” said Col Rajeshwar Singh, Chief Training Officer.
The Best Cadet selection was held during the inter-group competition held in Mysore in November. Drill, general knowledge, personality test, firing skills, IQ and a final interview are some of the hurdles the cadets went through. In addition to the firing skills, a cadet needs to know about the kind of weapons being used in the Army, their range, weight and rate of firing. In Bangalore, the cadets are taken to sharpen their firing skills at the ASC Centre. “We need to motivate these cadets round the clock. They have their emotions coming into play, when we filter them. We tell them that participation is the key. Our cadets are multi-talented and they are working without any breaks. It is a matter of great pride for every cadet to represent their state in Delhi,” says Rajeshwar.
Next up was interaction with some of the cadets. Pooja V, a first PUC student from Jyothi Nivas College felt that NCC changed her life. “ I became more disciplined and my self-confidence levels have really shot up. Every day, I wake with the dream of being in Delhi, marching at the R-Day Parade,” Pooja said. Rahul M, a 9th standard of Sree Ramakrishna Vidhya Shala in Mysore, said that his motivational levels saw a boost after coming to R-Day Camp. “Its brought a sea change to my life,” Rahul said.
For Mayuri M, a first PUC student from J T College in Gadak, the inspiration to join NCC came from her father. “I started to wake up early and picked up some lessons in dealing with people,” she said. For Akshta Tar, a first PUC student from St Xavier's, NCC taught her some good manners. “Drill stands apart and I have learned to make so many adjustments in my career,” she said. Studying for Ist PUC in St Joseph's College, Kodagu, Likitha Shetty felt she became a more responsible person in NCC. For Delorengam, St Francis de Sales College, Bangalore, being in NCC is just a stepping stone to join the Army. “I love Indian Army and it's the only one dream I have in life,” he says.
We were taken to the Flag Area (Line Area) next. This is meant to be the maintenance of lines so as to keep the cadets disciplined. Lessons in upkeep of the rooms and surrounding areas are taught here. Flag Area is also a theme-based event. “This year's theme on ecology conservation needs to be depicted pictorially using marble chips mixed with paint and cement. It needs to be completed in three days, before the inspection,” says an officer looking after this section.
Cadets were seen fine-tuning their skills in depicting the eco-system prevailing in Karnataka. “Creativity is key here,” adds the officer.
At the stroke of 1, we joined the cadets for lunch at the CMP Mess. The cadets lined up with plates in their hands to be served hot chappathis, dal curry, egg masala among others. Passion was flying high for the cadets, who were discussing about the day's progress and the events to unfold in the second half.
During lunch break, Major G M Mahendra, Associate Professor, Commerce and Associate NCC Officer (ANO) said that the demand for NCC has gone up both in schools and colleges. “I have been with the NCC for the last 17 years and have been to the R-Day parade in Delhi twice. I am inspired to see the importance of NCC going up all across the nation. Our directorate has always performed well in Delhi. We are either first or second most of the times,” he said.
We assembled at the CMP auditorium as the cadets began practice sessions for their cultural activities.
Wearing tracks suits and T-shirts, the cadets began the session proceedings with a group song. The rhythmic song is an ode to a soldier, which begins with the following lines: Uriva bisilu irali, koriyuva chali irali, manodoll irali, ninna daya... The song teacher and the choreographers were seen dealing with each cadet, correcting tune and background music (played by the cadets) so as to finish within the stipulated time.
The number of times the group song, ballet and group dance were rehearsed was just a testimony to that fact these cadets are leaving no stone unturned to be crowned as the champion contingent in Delhi. The next three hours saw non-stop music and dance with every one in the hall humming Uriva bisilu irali....
The surprise package of the day came in the form of Shweta Srivastav, an upcoming actress whose latest film Simpleagi Ondu Love Story was a hit. Directed by Suni with Rakshith Shetty as the hero, the film is being hailed as a trendsetter of the year. “The idea of bringing a celebrity was to inspire these kids. We want stars from the fields of sports and entertainment in Karnataka to come and give a pep talk to these children. It matters a lot and Shweta's arrival was kept secret till the last moment,” an officer said.
Shweta struck an emotional chord with the children from the word go. “I am an actor on the screen, but you all are the real heroes and heroines in real life, and I draw a lot of inspiration from each one of you,” Shweta took off. In the next few minutes everything she said was cheered by the cadets.
“I always believed in following my dream. I don't come from a film background and it was not easy to be an actress. I was always into cultural activities like music, dance and drama and that helped me get into films later. I still have a long way to go and achieve a lot,” she said.
When one of the cadets asked Shweta the secret behind the success of Simpleagi Ondu Love Story, she said, “It was a fresh team with new ideas. Did you see the chemistry between Rakshith Shetty and me in the film? It is because of me.
Rakshith was very introvert ed and never spoke much. He didn't say 'hello' when I met him on the first day. Later, I started the conversation and the rest is history.” She said her father always gave her examples of how people in the Army, Navy and the Air Force worked with great discipline. “He used to tell me about the brave soldiers who are always protecting our country. I love you all...” Shweta signed off, only to be surrounded by the cadets with more queries. Shweta was lost amidst autograph hunters and mobile paparazzis.
The ship-modelling wing was our final stop for the day. As part of the R-Day event, the cadets were to make four models of ships, including open class, static, radio-controlled and sailing. In Delhi, the cadets chosen for the modelling competition need to complete the ships in 72 hours. “The cadets also need to know about missiles and guns being used in our ships,” said an instructor, a former Navy personnel.
It was time for roll call and the cadets again lined up, after successfully completing the day's demanding session. “We will now serve them dinner and they will get back to their respective bunkers. The lights are off exactly at 10 pm and these cadets will still have so many tasks to complete. The R-Day camp is always abuzz with activities,” says an officer.
As we bid farewell to the cadets wishing them luck in Delhi, the security at the gate said: ‘‘Sirji, lamba din tha. (It was a long day).”