At 9.30 am on Saturday, the 19th of September, 149 young men (and 8 more from Afghanistan) and 30 young women will step out of the portals of the Officer's Training Academy in Chennai as commissioned officers of the Indian Army.
Sworn to protect the country and its honour, ready to lay down their lives if necessary, they will be assigned their posts after they return from three weeks of well-earned leave.
Fresh blood for the Indian Army
These are the people who will be sent to terrorist-infested border posts in Kashmir, to the northeast, and other troubled regions of the country.
These are the people who could just as easily have chosen to join the regular rat race of the corporate world, with 9 to 5 jobs and a fat pay packet.
Instead, they qualified for, and then underwent 11 months of very rigorous training at the OTA.
Spread over 650 lush acres, the campus is self-contained to the extent that even long-time Chennai residents do not know much about it bar perhaps the Centurion Tank that adorns its imposing main gate, some 2 km from the Chennai airport.
It's not just training grounds, classrooms, firing ranges, canteens, messes and resident accommodation. The OTA also houses a museum, a Tagore art gallery, and clubs catering to almost every discipline one can think of:: arts, tennis, yoga, creative writing, photography, electronics, squash, driving and maintenance, para-sailing, and even an Urdu club.
Here's what the OTA commandant, Gen Jatinder Singh Bajwa -- a highly decorated soldier who was awarded the Uttam Yudh Seva Medal for 'rendering selfless service of an exceptionally high order' during his command of an Infantry Division along the Line of Control - told the last batch of officers:
"Self sacrifice is essential to leadership. You will give, give all the time. You will give physically for the longest hours, the hardest work and the greatest responsibility. You will need to work while others sleep. Remember everyone has just 86,400 seconds every day. How you utilize it will set you apart from the others. ....In the end, I will not wish you luck, because good leaders generate their own. Here's wishing you all God Speed."
Sify.com is proud and privileged to be associated with the OTA.
As the cadets of the Academy prepare for the big day, here's your chance to wish these young men and women luck, to tell them that you care.