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Over 600 NCC girl cadets put through their paces at Avadi camp

CHENNAI: The cadets are being put through their paces, under the watchful eyes of their instructors. The blazing heat doesn't seem to bother them as they tackle the demanding tasks set for them. From slithering down the rope, to aiming and shooting, from crossing obstacles to braving through fire, the cadets are learning the basic skills of the warrior's trade.

It could be a scene from right out of the Officers Training Academy (OTA) at St. Thomas Mount where the Indian Army's Short Service Commissioned Officers are trained; but it isn't. The khaki-uniformed cadets are from the NCC's I TN Girls Battalion and their training ground is the sprawling premises of the Mahalakshmi College of Arts and Science for Women, Avadi.

The 250 senior wing and 375 junior wing cadets, mostly in their teens, are undergoing training at the 10-day annual training camp, with about 50 staff members overseeing them. The girls are from schools and colleges in Chennai and nearby districts and the camp is also the selection camp for the Thal Sainik and Republic Day parades, according to Lt. Col. M. Baskaran, Commanding Officer and Camp Commandant. Besides the military skills, they are also being taught the basics of health and hygiene, effective communication skills, participation in community development, tree planting, as well as getting to taste some adventure training.

Some of these cadets will get to visit 9 other countries as part of a youth exchange programme, after competing with cadets from the 16 State Directorates all over the country. Students from 21 colleges and 35 schools are participating in the camp, run with help from the State Police Commando Force and Army training instructors.

Col. Baskaran said the camp aimed at making the cadets physically and mentally stronger; it would instil confidence, self-reliance, determination and the will to continue, as well as inculcate team spirit - the main criteria for the uniformed services.

A dog show, fire-fighting demonstration and a seminar on inter-connecting of rivers are also part of the camp. K. Karuppaiah, regional president of Ganga Kumari Waterways Project, Madurai, spoke on the need to integrate rivers of the country. Capt. Latiffa Banu, Administrative Officer and Deputy Camp Commandant, said a cancer awareness programme was also held.

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