I was in grade 12 when I found myself fascinated by some NCC officers who came to visit my college. I was so amazed to see the pride for that uniform that I decided I wanted to have one for myself. I believed that instead of gazing at a thousand stars in the sky, I’d rather have 2 placed on my shoulder. I studied mechanical engineering at Bapuji Institute of Engineering and Technology and around the same time got selected through the 1st round of the service selection board for joining the defence forces. People around me weren’t supportive of my decision and believed it wasn’t wise to join the defence forces as I might not do well monetarily.
However, I believed that earning a hundred salutes when in the Indian Army would make me feel wealthier than making a lot of money. I then got trained in the Indian Military Academy and was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the 13th battalion of the Jammu and Kashmir Rifles. The following year brought terror and brutality of the Kargil War. Without food and water, I fought courageously with other fellow soldiers at the Line of Control. As we were waiting to attack, one of the enemy soldiers threw a hand grenade towards our bunker. I quickly managed to throw the grenade back to the enemy but unfortunately, it rolled back and exploded. The effect of this blast lasted for a minute and I witnessed my entire life flash before me in those 60 seconds. I later realised that both my legs were severely injured, so much so that I would never be able to walk again.
Captain Vikram Batra from my regiment came to my rescue and dragged me out of the bunker. We won the war but at a cost. We had lost Captain Vikram Batra forever. I spent 21 months to undergo 8 surgeries but was still medically unfit to join the army back. Patriotism runs in my blood and if not through my service in the army, I had to do something for my country. Accepting the reality of not being able to serve in the army on a positive note, I decided to give the UPSC exams. Today, I am a superintendent engineer indirectly serving for the defence forces of my country fulfilling my purpose in the best possible way I can. I am and will always remain a proud Indian!