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An exhilarating experience

The camp was a lesson in community living, knowing and respecting one another's traditions and culture. It also gave the cadets a feel of life in the Armed Forces.



The cadets of the A.P. Directorate presenting a cultural programme

The Shipwright School in Visakhapatnam virtually turned into a mini India with NCC cadets from 16 different directorates in the country camping there for the 10-day All-India Nau Sainik Camp which concluded on Sunday. It was more of a national integration camp with the cadets from the North and North-East getting to know the traditions and culture of their Southern counterparts and vice versa. The camp had an `international touch' with the participation of six cadets and a teacher officer from Singapore.

For the boys and girls from the landlocked States, visiting the beach and the Kailasagiri park was an experience which they would cherish all their life. The boys who had pitched tents had a `feel' of the rigours of military life. Nonetheless, they expressed their determination to join the Armed Forces and serve the country.

Some of the boys were critical of the random selection of cadets for different events, which placed some of them in a disadvantageous position. A few were disheartened that they did not get the food of their choice but most agreed that such experiences were necessary to prepare oneself for the battlefield.

"We learnt how to survive in different conditions. The spirit of competition and coordination has been maintained," says Ravi Prakash Pandey, who came from Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh. He was overwhelmed by the ample opportunities provided to the cadets for sailing, firing, semaphore and other activities.

Says Abhay B. Moon from Maharashtra, "Prior to this camp, we underwent a 40-day pre-camp training at Ratnagiri in our home State. We had put in a lot of hard work and some of us had felt like running away from the advance training, unable to withstand the pressure. But after coming here, we were all thrilled to take part in competitions like sailing and regatta."

"The intermingling with cadets of other States and the competitive spirit have given us a feel of the challenges ahead. Living in a tent on an open ground with trees and bushes in the vicinity was a very good experience for us," says the leading cadet of the Kerala contingent, Shible Plukose.



'Line of Action' : The tents pitched by the cadets of the various NCC directorates.

Pulin Kailta and Biju Dekha of Assam were impressed by life in the Navy. They sailed in a ship for the first time and say they would cherish the memory all their life. "The cadets from Orissa and Punjab have become our thickest friends," they say.

"It is honesty and not winning or losing that is important in a competition. The camp gave us a unique opportunity to draw from the cultures of different States," says Sandeep Kumar of Chandigarh.

Solangi Jalam Singh of Gujarat has taught a bit of Gujarati to some of the cadets from other States. Dhirendra Ojha of Ajmer, Rakesh Dutt Ojha and Himanshu Devpara of Udaipur (Rajasthan) say with excitement, "We have seen the whole of India here. Though the cultures are different, there is the underlying spirit of unity and brotherhood among all of us. The visit to Kailasagiri was an exhilarating experience." They all want to join the Armed Forces.

Neeraj Kumar of Delhi was excited to see the sea for the first time. He made friends with the cadets from different States. M. Prabhu of the Madurai American College in Tamil Nadu was happy to meet and know the culture of the cadets from other States. Kumar Dhruv from Bihar, who attended a national-level camp for the first time, was thrilled to sail in a ship to INS Magar. "I was impressed by the discipline at the camp," he says.

Biswajit Dewan from West Bengal and Rakesh Sharma from Jammu and Kashmir were thrilled to participate in the competitions like firing and sailing. Living in tents was a unique experience for them.



Hitting the bull's eye: Cadets practice rifle shooting

"The pitching of tents by the cadets, known as `Line of Action', is a competition in itself. The cadets have to install the fire-fighting equipment, emergency bell, lantern and affix the name of the directorate, which they represent, at the entrance of the tent. A long mirror is also kept outside the tent for the cadets to check whether their cap, belt, etc., are in order," say Capt. S. Chandra, woman officer from Tamil Nadu and Lt. SriPriya, NCC officer from Vizianagaram.

The Karnataka Directorate won the first place in the Line of Action followed by the A.P. Directorate.

The cadets from Singapore were all thrilled to be a part of the All India Nau Sainik camp. They made a presentation on NCC in Singapore. There are 18,000 cadets studying in 153 secondary schools in Singapore who have enrolled in the NCC. Apart from conducting local camps, they also attend International Cadet Exchange Programmes in various countries.

"We are overwhelmed by the sheer size of India and its vast expanse. We do not have such large training facilities and vast infrastructure in our country," says Lt. Terenc Too, a teacher officer from Singapore.



Discipline is the watchword: Cadets presenting a march past

"Unlike in India, there are no competitions among cadets in the NCC in our country. I have made friends with some of the Indian cadets and taken their e-mails," says Md. Farid.

"It is my first international camp and I find it an enjoyable experience. I am amazed by the size of the tents, here, which can accommodate up to 10 cadets. In our country the tents can accommodate not more than two cadets," says T.W. Tan.

"A day at sea was very interesting. In Singapore, cadets do not have such easy access to defence establishments. The camps are held for a maximum of five days, which is half the number of days at this camp," say Y.Y. Tan, Y.F. Chor and B.Y. Ho.

"It has been an edifying experience to witness the zeal and enthusiasm of the cadets. Their professional standard and active participation was a treat to watch," says the NCC Group Commander, A.V.S. Ramesh, giving his impressions on the camp. It was a double treat for him and the camp officer, Sqn. Leader, A.B. Gavandi, that the A.P. Directorate was adjudged the best at the All India level.

B. MADHU GOPAL

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