Exemplary tales of courage, determination and hard work came to the fore during the recent Passing Out Parade at Officers Training Academy in St.Thomas Mount. After a year-long rigorous training, 330 young men and women from all over India joined various regiments of Indian Army.

Some of them will be posted at Kargil, others in the North Eastern States, while many others would be based in cities, away from action.“It is a dream come true. I got through the Combined Defence Services Examination in my 10th attempt and joined the OTA,” said Kuldeep Singh Baduriya, who won the Sword of Honour for standing first in the overall order of merit. Hailing from Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh,

Lieutenant Kuldeep is the eldest among three children of Subedar I.S.Baduriya, who retired from the Corps of EME (Electronics and Mechanical Engineers).

After graduating in science, Kuldeep worked in a leading multi national bank in its business process outsourcing vertical for three years, but never once did he forget or stray away from his ambition of joining the Army. Lt. Kuldeep will join the 81 Armoured Regiment.

Proud mother Rekha Devi was at a loss of words and broke down when asked how she felt when her son Lt. Nitin Singh Bisht won the silver medal in the overall order of merit. The second among three children, Lt. Bisht is an engineering graduate and hails from Uttarakhand. “My father Naik Subedar K.S.Bisht was the driving force for me to join the Army. He retired in 2005 and passed away two years later.” Her elder sister Deepika Singh is a homemaker, while younger sister Karishma Bisht, a business administration student, is also keen to join the Army.

Lts. Jennifer Philomin, M.Aishwarya, M.Ilanchezhiyan and Anirudh Srivatsa are among the 11 people from Tamil Nadu who passed out of the Academy. More awareness is needed among the youth in the State to motivate them to take Armed Forces as a career, they believe. “Even my close circle does not appreciate that my daughter has joined the Army,” said Sujatha Prabhu, mother of Lt. Jennifer.

The parade, marked by crisp movements and perfectly synchronised march past, left the audience, which mainly comprised the relatives of the young officers, in awe. It was held at the Parameshwaran Drill

Square, named after Major Parameshwaran, who passed out of the Academy and was awarded the Param Vir Chakra posthumously.

Lt. General Ashok Singh, Army Commander, Southern Command, reviewed the parade along with Lt. Gen. S.S.Jog, Commandant, OTA. In his address, Lt. Gen. Singh said integrity was the most important quality and in the present era of constant technological advancement, “we are always in the public gaze and every action of ours is subjected to scrutiny.”

The new officers reserved their first salute for their instructional staff, who had been guiding them for the past one year. Twenty foreign cadets from Afghanistan also completed their training.