Antim Pag: The First Step in the Service of People

Friday, November 2, 2012

Dikshant Parade (Passing out Parade) was one of the most spectacular event of my life. I waited years for this day and I am sure, I am going to cherish this as long as there is a single breath in my heart.

I woke up with a very strange feeling today. I was engulfed by a flood of nostalgia spanning 46 weeks in the National Police Academy (NPA). A feeling of excitement mixed with apprehension was very strange. Excitement because I was going to cross the Antim Pag (The Final Step) and apprehension because of the days ahead. I felt as if all 320 days at NPA have culminated into one single moment. A  feeling which is hard to explain no matter how hard I tried.

When we all entered the parade ground, I could see the excitement of parents and families of officer trainees to witness the unforgettable moment of their son/daughter taking the final step to serve this country. When tricolour was passing through the parade, there was a rush of blood in the hearts of officer trainees. The music of the band just added to the emotional feeling. The entire atmosphere was so full of life that even the nature took notice of it and showered rain on us! It is very rare to see passing out parades in the rain. The showers from the heaven did not stop but we did not move an inch from our places. “We were perfectly okay where we were”. In fact, it symbolized our duty and sense of responsibility as we were going to take the first step in the service of people.

The “peeling off” of the Dikshant Parade under the heavy showers from heaven was something unique this year. (Peeling off means leaving the parade formation and moving towards the Antim Pag). As we stepped on the Antim Pag, the 320 days rollercoaster ride at NPA came to an end. The academy life was full of adventure, thrill, excitement, hardship, challenge and loads of fun. It was as if 46 weeks have gone away in a blink of an eye.

Throughout my days at NPA, I never realized the value of life at NPA. Someone very wisely said once that you come to know the value of something when you lose it. The dawn of November 2nd must have brought the curtains down. But the show will go on, just that the theatre will shift to different corners of India. However the days at NPA will remain very close to my heart. “The bonds I forged with my friends here cannot be broken by absence, distance or time”. The memories etched in our hearts and minds can never be erased by anything under the sun. “A lifetime of togetherness begins today. The Academy Colors must have left the parade ground today, but the colours of the academy shall stay with us forever”.

Entering the parade ground
Inspection of parade by home
Minister of India
March Past
Antim Pag
Speaking to him was an 
exciting experience!
With Shri Vijaya Kumar Sir

PS: Quoted text are from Aravindan P and Mohd. Imran.

The NPA Diary: Odyssey of Squad No. 2, 64RR

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Caution: This article was written on behalf of Squad No. 2 for IPS 64RR batch book. The context of this article is known only to 64RR. Apologies for unexplained jargons. 

Sometimes, memories of lifetime can be ruined if put to words. 320 days that we spent in NPA are undoubtedly the finest days our life. No matter how hard you try, it is very difficult to reflect those experiences in words. Nevertheless, it is worth attempting. Once the years pass by, it is only the words which can invoke the feeling of reliving those finest moments of our life!

We all came from different backgrounds, different cultures and very different perspectives. Two officers from Nepal and Maldives made this group even more diverse. Ustads made this group complete. Laxman Oran sir treated us like his own kids. Though he was there with us for short period, his association with the squad left a lasting impression. Abdul Samad sir carried the baton of leading the squad with the same spirit and energy. Both of them just loved talking to us. So much so that we named Abdul Samad sir as “Gyani” ustad! Lekhraj sir was a hard task master, a KTP (Mugambo) ustad, never shown mercy on us. But it was his “strictness” which taught us quite a bit (remember “Mugambo khush huwa!?”). Subhash ustad (aka Tiger ustad) was ever ready to help us under any odd circumstances, Bhanwarlal sir played a similar role. Coming of Mohanty sir was a late but welcome addition to the squad. Ustads were the one who held our hand and took us from the first day to the passing out parade. The love and compassion that the Ustads shown made us feel at home. As long as we don the uniform, memories of the Ustads will be very fresh in our hearts and minds.

Squad 2 was an interesting mix of OTs. Pratit Rowdy Rathore from Nepal, really impressed all of us with his stamping of the foot! So hard was the stamping that, for a moment we would think he can break the ground! He was a “Bindaas” type guy who slept all through the classes, and kept chewing something when he was awake! A straightforward guy who never afraid of speaking his mind.

There was an interesting trio in Squad 2. Ajay Kumar “Mitra”, Chandan and Anand Mishra. Ajay, the founding father of philosophy of “Mitra”, had no dearth of energy and spirit. His 400m relay run without shoes and with blood on both his knees showed his team spirit and made him Paan Singh Tomar of 64RR. Initially, we thought Chandan was a serious guy. Phew! His witty jokes never failed to put a smile on our face. Mind you, deep inside, this guy has tremendous maturity, he is a guy who wants to give it a shot, whatever it is. Anand, a guy who really takes pride in being in the uniformed service. His UAC performance on 15th August stunned many. A gentleman at heart, ever ready to do anything for the team.

There was one guy, though he was physically present in squad 2, at times, his heart was in squad 6! Thanks to Saxena sir’s classes, we all could find a name to Abhishek! (Remember “Jorba, what are you doing?”). Jorba was a pleasant guy to be around, clean at heart and has child like enthusiasm. Equally interesting character was Surya Pratap Yadav (or Singh?). Surya had no idea what the word confusion means. His favourite pastime is just “to pass time”! He is the only guy in 64RR who doesn’t sweat even after running 10kms.

The word “Simple” is the first name of Karthick. Baggage of this prefix came from LBSNAA. Be it law, a game plan or anything, he prefered to keep things simple. His hindi tirelessly brought smile on our faces. His “never give up” spirit is something which can inspire the confidence of many. Despite his knee injuries, he played many games for the squad. So much so that he never stopped playing until he lost control over his knee. He fell down many times, but every time he fell down, he got up again for the team, something that truly inspired us. Yet another determined fellow was Sameer Cycle Sharma. Sameera would have fetched many medals for our squad if he wasn’t injured. A true sportsman with true spirit. We really missed him towards the end, wish he did POP with us.

Battula Gangadhar and Rakesh Kalasagar were twins of squad 2. They were buddies and sticked around together. Gangadhar was known for getting up from the deep sleep and asking questions to the faculty. He would go back to sleep soon after his question was answered. He is the focussed guy who exactly knows what he wants in his life and gives his best to get it. Rakesh was calm, composed and sincere at heart. Somewhere deep down, he is a thorough gentleman. Manoj C was a different guy who always seemed to be lost in his own world. A silent and cool guy who cheered squad 2 in most of the games. Manoj will remember Rambo for rest of his life for what accidentally happened in hockey ground!

There is an interesting trivia attached to our squad. We had four lady OTs, more than any other squad had. Usha was sincere and intelligent almost to an extent of being KTP! Her simulation reports are testimony to this. Be it indoors or outdoors, she always gave her best. Swapna was calm, composed, soft spoken and was the torchbearer of our squad in most of the cultural activities, but hated anything adventurous! Rahuma brought a unique Maldivian flavour to the squad. Smile was her most important medium of expression. She is the fighter, a brave lady who never gives up. Running 400m and 100m sprint with injured knee was something which inspired many. Ever ready to participate in the games, the lady who loved outdoors and games. Amrutha was a late but welcome addition to the squad. A good singer, articulate, knows exactly what she is doing and does what she think is right and does it with utmost clarity and precision. A good sportswoman who fetched the first medal for squad 2 in the athletic meet.

Hitesh - our own Rambo - had no dearth of energy and spirit. Caring and compassionate guy who is ever ready to do anything for the team. Thanks to “The Chief”, he finally graduated in what he got started here in NPA. Swapnil - The Chief - was a thorough gentleman, a balanced and matured guy. He was the one who made Manju the drummer, taught Rambo “something” and helped him graduate in that. Thanks to him, officers club came alive in NPA and not only that, he kept the spirit of officers club going! Gaurav Garg aka GG, always thought two steps ahead of anyone. He is one guy who can touch deep down the mind of someone in no time. GG was the powerhouse of squad 2. In the very first day of our UAC class, he tore apart the punching bag. He was a friend, philosopher and guide of squad 2. Squad 2 suffered a lot in games and athletic meet due to his freak injury.

Patilanchi Krupa”, was something Manju always said whenever squad 2 won a game.Thanks to Vinayak Patil, squad 2 could fetch a silver in handball. He was one of the best sportsman of the squad, great athlete, a team man and a balanced guy.

Basic training at NPA was a unique experience. No one was exceptional in the squad but we as a team had loads energy and synergy to excel. Injuries let us down, but not our spirit. We fought back, we never gave up and we made every moment of our life here memorable. The best days of our life so far may have come to an end, but the memories of those days will remain fresh for a long time to come.

PS: Special thanks to Swapnil for the inputs!

Don’t just run with your legs. Run with your mind!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

So far, I had been running long distances from my legs. But last week, I did run 10km distance not just with my legs, but with my mind. I remember reading somewhere,  “Come on, young man. you’ve been running with your legs so far. Now run with your mind!” For a seasoned runner, 10km run is no big deal. He can cover well within 45 minutes. But for me, it was an uphill task. While I was warming up for the 10km run, with my left knee in pain, I was not sure, how long I could run. I had not run long distances for almost 2 months. Thoughts of staying out of the cross country passed through my mind. But I wanted to give it a try, and didn’t want to give up so easily.

The first mile
Half way

I managed to run first 7kms without much of a difficulty. Body was completely warmed up, breathing was steady, “legs were moving one after another”, rhythm was good and was sure of covering the distance well within an hour. But after 7kms, I started feeling the pinch. I wanted to go on, but felt like giving it up. Every time I saw a vehicle on the road, I thought I should just get into it and cover rest of the distance. But the joy of crossing the finish line, kept me going. I covered another 2km. The last 1km run, I must say, was one of best I have experienced in my life. There was absolutely no control over my legs, they just kept moving at the same pace. I started counting every step to cover rest of the distance. For a moment I thought I lost control over my body, but managed to get my steps right. “Come on! It’s all in the mind”, I shouted to myself, literally! I don’t know what happened to me after that, those words seemed to work like magic. All I remember is that my left leg which had bit of a pain in the knee was moving swiftly, following the rhythm of my right leg. I increased my stride, started breathing fast, kept going with the increased pace and my left leg was still following the right leg! Last 300-400m to the finishing line was an inclined road. I increased my pace again, started feeling breathlessness, but kept going, and finally, managed to complete 10km distance in 49 minutes!

I can see the Finish Line!

Crossing FP, the last step!

What a joy! I was happy, really happy, on top of the world. Not because I covered 10kms, but because I covered that distance with an injured leg, because this was the first time I ran the long distance with my mind. And it was yet another rare opportunity to take my limits to a new height. I feel this experience has a deeper meaning. It’s the last mile that matter the most. Its not about our physical ability or not even our talent, “but by the mental strength to stay the course, and run the extra mile. When you run with your legs, you allow the pressures to weigh you down. You allow obstacles to come in the way of your progress. You find yourself saying “I can’t!” But when you run with your mind, you become unstoppable. Your mind says “I can!”[....]

All my life, I have failed quite a few times, not because I didn’t try. But may be because I didn’t try enough in the last mile. The effort which matters the most. Thats where the mind plays a significant role. “Don’t just run with your legs. Run with your mind!”

5 days in the jungle: An odessey with Greyhounds

Friday, September 7, 2012

When I stepped out of the bus, it was 11.00pm, clouds seemed to race across the sky, moon was playing hide and seek with clouds, calmness of the empty road leading to jungle was disturbed by the gentle breeze. Entire atmosphere seemed to be welcoming us for a wonderful jungle experience.

I was not sure of carrying a haversack weighing 18-20kgs and 4kgs rifle in the hand for a distance of 4-5kms in the middle of the night. But, surrounding atmosphere (and the peer pressure?) made me enjoy that night walk which lasted almost for 2 hours. Soon after we reached the destination - a “safe” place to sleep -  at around 1.00am, the sky opened up and rain began to fall. Sky was the roof and hills around us were the walls. Literally, we were guests in the house of nature! We slept under the cover of our ground sheets. When I woke up before the first light, I couldn’t believe I actually slept under the rain!

Thanks to Greyhounds training which provided an experience of lifetime! The Greyhounds are an elite commando force of Andhra Pradesh. The force was raised in 1989 to control the Maoists/Naxals. As a part of our training, we had one week attachment with Greyhounds, they trained us for anti naxal operations and jungle survival. We had to spend five days in jungle like a commando - without any contact with outside world, cooking our own food, making our own shelter, finding every means to survive ourselves. We were simulating the life of a commando in the jungle!

For me, it was a challenge to truly test and scale up my physical and mental potential to new heights. No internet, no mobile phone, no communication whatsoever with the outside world for five days. No bathing, not even washing face for five days so as to save water, wear the same camouflage (Dangri) dress and same shoes (and socks!) for five days. Ration given to us was limited, pure drinking water was a rare commodity, had to carry 3-4 litres of drinking water in my haversack despite its heavy weight on the back. Rifle, GPS, walkie talkie, etc added to the burden.

Watching every move?

Home in the jungle!

We were thoroughly briefed to treat every corner of the jungle as naxal affected area. Our moves had to be tactical, no unnecessary sound, every place we halted had to be recced and guarded by sentries to pre-empt any attack! Same place cannot be used for halting so as to keep the enemy guessing. Any place we used should be left undisturbed so that our footprints are not left for the enemy. Cooking of dinner must be finished well before the day ends so that our location is not revealed to the enemy because of the fire! Proper drill had to be followed to fetch the water so that enemy attack at the water source is avoided!

What's cooking?

Delicious Rice and pickle! :)
Every drop counts in the jungle

Sentry? Who is next?

Tactical exercises which were taught to us either early in the morning or late evening. Day time didn’t have much of action. We spent most of the day time in cooking, eating and of course sleeping, except those who had to do sentry duty! Cooking wasn’t that easy because wet firewood simply refused to burn and it was not easy to find completely dry firewood due to the rain in the night. And there were not many ingredients to showcase our culinary skills, all that we had was rice, dal, soup powder, cashew, and milk powder for making tea. Many of us tried all possible permutations and combinations to cook a tasty food. Some tried cooking khichdi, few of us tried to cook pulav using bit of onion and potato but ended up making just rice! Some even succeeded in cooking rice-kheer using milk powder. But easiest and tastiest was maggie, all that we needed to do was boil some water and mix it with a cup of maggie. Trust me, whatever combination we all tried, everything tasted so good that the satisfaction after eating was rare to find in day to day life outside the jungle!

The last light of the day (Sun)

The first light of the night!(Moon)

Night in the jungle was serene and beautiful. As soon as the sun sank and moon was bright, entire surrounding changed its beauty and became alive in a matter of minutes. I spent plenty of time lying on the grass and watching the beautiful sky full of stars and bright moon. In fact on one night, we were resting on an elevated area from where one can have a 360* view of the surrounding area under the bright full moon light. At times, moon was playing hide and seek with clouds, the moment bright moon was engulfed by the clouds, everything fell silent in the darkness. Within minutes, moon was freed and everything around us was painted with moonlight.

Apart from tactical exercises which taught us how to fight naxals / maoists, there was so much to learn from the nature and from our own experiences. The hardship we face in the jungle reveals the true character of a person. Once we exhaust our stamina, the tired mind reflects our true nature, it reflects our ability to help others even in the face of adversities. If one succeeds to show compassion during tough times, be assured, he is the person who you can depend and trust for rest of your life. My heart goes out to those commandos and soldiers who not only master the art of overcoming physical exhaustion, but also master their mind to continue fighting for the country even in the face of adversities.

We got a feel of difficulties faced by a commando in the jungle during anti naxal operations. The five day exercise helped me realize what it takes to be a commando who wears his heart on his sleeves and stakes his life in the most deadly situations to fight the naxals, ensuring that we enjoy the leisures of our living room, ensuring the unity and integrity of this nation.

In the end, i felt, “I took a walk in the jungle and came out taller than the trees!”

Bungy Jumping: Rush of blood to the head

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Fear is an experience you can’t buy. Our mind gives it free of cost! Thinking about bungy jumping used to send chills down my spine. Nevertheless, I wanted to do bungy, at least once before I stop breathing. I wanted to experience free fall, wanted to experience being in the air. Compulsory bungy, as a part of my training, came as blessing in disguise.

Jumpin heights in Rishikesh is the only place in India, where bungy jumping can be done from a fixed platform. A cantilever platform built at a height of 83 meters  is used for bungy. Four safety checks and experienced bungy masters from New Zealand assure you that there is very little chance of accident. But even the slightest chance of accident harbors deepest fear in the mind!

The moment I started walking towards the bungy platform, plenty of things were going through my mind. Some corner of my mind was repeatedly asking me to back off! For a moment, I felt why this Kolaveri? But I managed to keep the smile on my face with some difficulty. The bungy staff at the platform were happy to see smile on my face, but deep inside, i was terribly scared. Bungy cord was finally hooked to my ankle attachment and an additional rope was hooked to body harness to make sure I won’t be detached from the platform!

Instead of just falling from the edge, I wanted to take a jump in the air like I do in the swimming pool. Bungy master was impressed and said, “Awesome! Go ahead!”. I looked down from the edge only to discover that there is hardly any water in the river! For a moment, I thought, fear - a little-death - is something you can’t get over until you do the thing you are afraid of. By that time, bungy master started saying, “Ready, One, Two, Three, Bungyyyyy!!”. My mind completely went blank and I managed to jump the way I do in swimming pool. Soon after I took off from the edge, for a fraction of second, I thought, what the heck am I going to hold? But, alas! I was free falling! I screamed and shouted with plenty of joy and bit of apprehension in the heart. The moment bungy cord started stretching, i realized that i am not going to fall off! It started recoiling and there was a sudden rush of blood to the head! Head was heavy, heart was lighter and my scream reflected the fun I never experienced before. I continued to oscillate up and down until all the elastic energy in the bungy cord was dissipated. Finally, after the oscillation stopped, i started moving down. The moment I rested on the ground, I felt my head was heavier than rest of the body. One should experience the rush of blood to the head!

After the cord was detached and body harness was removed, the joy of doing bungy had no limits. “Fear is something you can’t buy”. But at Jumpin Heights, you can buy it for 2000 bucks and even overcome it! My excitement after bungy made me to try the giant swing. I paid 1200 bucks more and tried swing as well. I must tell you, bungy and swing were the experiences of life time. one should try!

I have got guts! You? :)

The NPA Diary: Trust your legs and run easy!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

After running 5KMs in 27 minutes and cycling 20KMs in little over an hour, what I feel is, “nothing good in life comes easy”. When the finishing line is way too far, two  voices in my mind say two different things. One says, “I want to go on” and the other says, “I want to give up!” But, when I think about the joy of crossing finishing line, I just trust my legs and go on. I feel It’s not about crossing the finishing line in time, but about going through those conflicting feelings within, overcoming them and finishing the race, no matter how much time we take to finish. “The important thing is not how you start a race, but how you finish it”.

It’s not that I am so damn excited to run long distances. The morning physical training (PT) in LBSNAA Mussoorie and now in NPA has forced me to run those long distances. Every week, on saturday, long distance running is compulsory. It all started with 5km run and so far we are able to run upto 11kms. And it might go upto 16-20KMs!

Many trainers here at NPA say that there is no better exercise than running. You run for 20-30 minutes a day and no disease can run after your life! I wonder how, but Christopher McDougall seems to be having an answer. Take a look.

Hopefully, the long distance running has more in it for me to discover and keep me going.

Run easy!

The NPA Diary: Time flies by but memories stay

Sunday, March 18, 2012

All my life, I hardly slept before the midnight and never woke up before the first light. At home, my father tried his best to wake me up before 6AM, but he had to give up! But in the last three months, I never slept after the midnight and never woke up after the first day light! Life has taken a whole different trajectory after coming to NPA, Hyderabad. The mind and body have finally started showing some signs of getting used to the discipline and routine.

Though there is reluctance to wake up in the early morning, I do overcome the fight within to get ready and go to the ground. There were instances where my alarm didn’t go off and woke up only when I heard the noise of people marching towards the ground and I took hardly 3-4 minutes to get ready and reach the ground with galloping speed! All this to avoid heavy consequences that I may have to pay for if I don’t reach on time! Some times, my mind fully wakes up only when i hear the command "parade Saavdhaan!". The morning exercises, at times the Yoga, Gym, Unarmed Combat, etc, makes me sweat like crazy. But, there is a feel good factor. The body feels lighter, better and alert. At times, I feel the day is so long and there is so much time to do so many things if we get up early in the morning. But the morning fight to get up? Continues!

Drill in the uniformed service is something which many people question and fail to understand the need. There is a drill for everything - to march, to salute, to report, to hold a weapon, and even to dust off your hands! At times, even I ask if I really have to do all this?  The answer I got was, "this is required to make you a cop!" I am yet to convince myself about this! I remember those funny mistakes I and my friends used to do while marching, saluting, handling weapons, etc. I am going to cherish those memories! Nevertheless, I must tell you, it's quite an experience. It teaches one to obey commands, to learn discipline, etc which are absolutely important in policing.

Honestly, I enjoy outdoor activities - especially the games/sports - more than indoor classes. I feel those law classes a bit monotonous and painful to pay attention to and I repeatedly hear instructors saying, "If you don't pay attention now, you might have to pay for it later!". However, few indoor sessions including seminars, talks/lectures are interesting and enriching. There is so much to learn from the life of those people who really made some difference in our country.

Even after the regular scheduled activities, academy doesn't leave us alone so easily. Most of the time, there will be compulsory activities which keeps us busy till we go to bed. Activities of clubs and societies, pre-dinner talks, cultural programmes, interaction with eminent personality etc have become routine and common.

Despite the reluctance to wake up and few minutes of fight to get ready and go to the ground, despite those monotonous law classes, despite the seminars and lectures, at the end of the day, i feel the day was worth the sweat.

So far it has been a great experience in NPA.
The first day in IPS uniform, fulfilling my mother's dream of seeing me in uniform, the republic day parade (in front of my parents), meeting some celebrated officers, and yes, the friends i have made here and the great time I had so far with them will remain fresh in my mind for a long time to come!

This post was an attempt to capture my memories in NPA and hopefully, I overcome my laziness in the coming days to record them here. :)

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This work by Manjunath Singe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License. The views and opinions expressed in this work are strictly those of the author and do not represent his employer's views in anyway.