‘Antim Pag’– The dream of every aspirant. The parents piping stars on their shoulders. The cadets saluting the national flag, as they step on Antim Pag and become officers that the country will be proud of- a dream every cadet wishes to live once they enter their respective academies. But, do we all know that not every cadet gets to live this dream. There is a small number that has to walk away, and live a life with the agony of shattered dreams. As said, they are the ex- gentleman cadets or ‘The Boarded Out’ cadets. The cadets are boarded out based on any injuries that may occur in the academy, which may interfere with their performance inside the academy. They are also removed from the academy if any disease history is found.
In this article we will mention such fighters who returned from the verge of death, but, had to see their dreams shatter in the process.
A Rimcolian, Vickrant, now an ex-NDA cadet was recommended in NDA 137 and joined the academy in 2016. He was learning to lead his troops from the front. An excellent all-round performer, everything went well for him till the novice boxing event. In this event, he hurt his head when one of the opponent’s punches landed on the right side of his head. Though, the injury was declared not serious. Unfortunately, he hurt the same part of the head when a ball hit him during a football match at the academy. He fell unconscious.
By the time he woke up, his world had already collapsed. Vickrant had lost the power to stand, let alone the strength to walk or run. He was no more the charismatic young lad who had joined the defense academy with a lot of dreams and aspirations. He was a disabled cadet, who had been Boarded Out.
Presently, Vickrant has been working on his fitness and after a lot of effort he has managed to start talking and walking a little. The accident might have made him physically unfit, but even such a horrific incident could not shake off the strong mentality and his high spirit!
One of the many Stories!
One such instance is of an ex-cadet Ankit Yadav, an excellent trainee cadet, he was recommended into the TES, 2017 and was training in Mhow. He had a disease history of white spots. So, he was boarded out! That too after two years of training! Two years of his life went in vain. Now, he is completely cured of the disease. He wishes to come back to the academy via CDS. Such is the zeal and spirit of these young men!
Chetan- Still a fighter!
Another such brave-heart is Chetan Chaudhary. Team Akashbaani was fortunate to have been able to have a conversation with him. Chetan Chaudhary has also been an excellent cadet. He was recommended in 2015 and joined OTA Gaya in 2016. Unfortunately, the same year, during the novice boxing event in April, he was boxed out, with fatal injury to his brain, and later, Boarded Out from the academy. Chetan did his schooling from Kendriya Vidyalay, Kamla Nehru Nagar, Ghaziabad. Being a bright student, his parents did expect him to continue the family legacy and join the armed forces.
His life, his words
On being asked Who Chetan Chaudhary is, if not an ex-GC, he put up his bright smile and said, A class 10th state topper and class 12th School Chemistry topper and a National Swimmer. It was his love and passion for swimming that got him the title of a National Swimmer! Due to the injury followed by the operations that his brain had to undergo, Chetan is not into swimming right now. He wishes to start his swimming journey back in April!
All of us have dreams in life! The next question put in front of him was- What was your aspiration of life before this Incidence? To this, he said-
‘Ever since I had the capability to dream, I wanted just one moment to come to my life. It was the day I would have been commissioned. I wanted those stars to be piped on my shoulders by my family! Nothing ever struck the brain except that thought!
Hailing from an Army family, his thoughts always revolved around serving the nation and bringing pride to the country! He states- “I had this thought in my mind that I would continue to swim after I’m commissioned! I actually wanted to bring laurels to the nation!”
The injury he had received was too serious. It was SDH (SubDural Haemorrhage) shift of the brain towards left by 13.5 mm, resulting in Hemiplegia & half hyperactive body with partial memory and short term memory. Chetan was in a coma for 105 hrs. Even the Doctors had given up! He was in the ICU for as long as 3 months! He recalls the incident as,” I don’t remember anything after the event. Even when I woke up I did not have the capability to comprehend all that was going around me. I was an over 6 feet tall guy, with a weight of around 70 kgs. When I came out of the ICU I was just 35 kgs! I don’t recall the instance but I know it would have been devastating for my family!”
Chetan completed his graduation from DU SOL last year! While he was still in bed, it was his sister who got him admitted to the university. When asked if there were any negative thoughts in his brain during the time, he says-“My sister never let me think about anything! While I was recovering I was already in a university, and the next moment, I was preparing for my exams! I never got the time to think anything!”
“The doctors had declared me unfit for life and I was Boarded out. The Recovery was really hard!” He gives cent percent credits of his recovery to his family, especially his sister! His sister had cleared the AFCAT and a couple more exams, the same year he got injured. But, she never went for the screening! He says-“Ab main jab didi ko kehta hu ki tumne aisa kyun kiya, toh woh kehti hai ki ‘Jobs toh bahot mil jaati par bhai toh ek hi hai mera’! Ab wo meri inspiration hai!”
His sister is serving the nation in Seema Suraksha Bal. Now, Chetan is working towards getting more fit and preparing to get a good government job. When he was asked, if he regrets having joined the academy, or if he were to turn back time, would he not do so. To this he responds-“Honestly speaking, I have no regrets! If I could turn back time, I’d still join the academy. I might try to control my emotions on the day of the incident though”, and he smiles wide again!
Is there anything that can be done?
If we analyze the situation, a person who over-speeds a bike, or a person doing stunts, just to get some likes on social media- all of them have insurances! Medical insurance, life insurance, vehicle insurance… etc. But, on the other hand these men, who volunteered to be self-less and kept aside their own safety. The hindrances that they face during the training, they have no proper insurance! The wage that they get is also very less!
When a cadet joins the academy, he is in his fittest state of body and mind. Unfortunately, some of them have to leave mid-way! Maybe the bureaucrats could give them an ex-serviceman status or if they are fit enough, get them reinstated with some table job for instance. Even Chetan feels a little hurt that the organization for which he was ready to do anything, a dream he had as a child, left him berserk just after an accident.
When asked if there is anything he would want to tell to the under training cadets. He says- “Just never be controlled by your emotions. Think and then act!” As a last comment he says-” I want all the ex- cadets, the boarded out, to be confident and strive to achieve other goals because the basic principle of life is to move on!”
The Painful Essence
It’s surprising and disappointing that such instances are not being taken into consideration! Such brilliant minds are Boarded Out and not given a proper attention! They are not even given an ex-servicemen quota because the bureaucrats consider that they aren’t employed people on duty!! Surely, they aren’t partying in the academy, right!? They are undergoing serious training! Something that can even leave them handicapped for life! It’s unfortunate that the maximum limelight is stolen by some celebrity kids, while the real heroes are fighting their own battles! It’s time we decide to respect the people in uniform as well as the ones who couldn’t donn it! There needs to be an uproar for such cadets! They do deserve much more than they get and it’s the moral responsibility of us all to stand for them!
Author- Apexa Rai
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Featured Image Credit- How A Sunday Looks Like For a Gentleman Cadet in OTA – DefenceLover