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Getting into the Armed Forces

The road to success isn’t a long, treacherous route, but, on the other hand, with some foresight and good planning, a rather smooth one. Two months is the time needed to crack? The National Defiance Academy (NDA), Naval Academy (NA) and the Combined Defiance Services Examination (CDSE) says Lt. Col. (Retd.) S K Chhabra of The Cavalier.

The right time to apply
the right time to start preparing for NDA is during the Class 12 summer Vacation that is soon after passing Class 11 and for CDSE during the summer break of the final year. No point in waiting to either pass your Class XII or graduation. The eligibility mentioned in the notifications only means that at the time the applicant clears the entrance, he or she should have either passed Class 12 or earned a graduate degree and not at the time of applying!

Choosing the right subjects
While the right timing can save you on missing a chance, planning and choosing the right subjects will decide whether you can join your preferred defiance career at all. Say for example, if one wants to be a pilot with the Indian Air Force, then the time to choose the subjects is in Class 11, both for NDA and CDSE as the qualifying subjects for the flying branch in the Air Force are Physics, Chemistry and Math (PCM) for the Indian Navy: Physics and Math. So if you decide to the join the Air Force after college, you would have to plan from Class 11. That early! ‘A safe bet is to opt for PCM in case one is considering a career in either the Indian Navy or the Air Force,’ says aspirant Ashutosh. But there’s a bright side for those less inclined towards science subjects. The qualifying subjects for the Army for both NDA and CDSE could be any stream in Class 12 or any degree in college. Qualifying subjects for the Indian Military Academy (IMA) are Math of Class 10 standard, English and General Studies.

But for those mortally scared of Math, they can tick on Officer’s Training Academy (OTA) in the form, as the qualifying subjects are English and General Studies. But do keep in mind that OTAs are taken on Short Service Commission (SSC) which is a service of 14 years (either 10+4 or full 14 years in the case of some branches in the armed forces) and not a full-term service as in the case of Permanent Commission (PC). However, the SSC tenure is extendable depending on the vacancies and the performance of the Officer.

Different Entry points Well,
there are many ways of entering the Defiance services as you would See from the table on page number 52. While the NDA/NA, CDSE exams conducted by the UPSC are common for entry into the Army, Navy and Air Force, for the direct entries the three wings on their own screen and select candidates and then send them for SSB interviews. These selections are done under the non-UPSC schemes as you would see in the table. The 10+2 Tech Cadet entry,Technical Graduate Course (TGC), NCC, University Entry Schemes (UES) are some of the non-UPSC entries or direct entry schemes to enter into the armed forces. While there is no written exam for the direct entries in the case of the Army and Navy, the India Air Force, however, conducts its own tests for direct entries for Technical and Ground Duty branches in the form of the Engineering Knowledge Test (EKT) and the Common Entrance Test (CET). Those who qualify the written test are called for the SSB. There’s No written test for the SSC Flying entry branch, instead short listed candidates are erectly called for the SSB. Candidates selected through the UES are paid Rs 5000 in the final year of their degree course, that is while they are still in college pursuing their degree. University Graduates with NCC ‘C’ Certificate with minimum ‘B’ grading and 50 per cent marks in graduation are inducted in the Navy and Air Force as Regular Commissioned Officers and as Short Service Commission Officers in the Army.

Be yourself at the SSB
Honest, motivated young men and women with integrity are the kind of people the armed orcas is looking for. ‘Life in the Forces is tough and we are looking for people with ental stamina,’ says Col Gill. And these are precisely the qualities candidates are judged on during the five-day SSB interview. Though it may seem the toughest part, the SSB is the easiest part. The SSB panel assesses candidates in three stages: psychology Test, group discussion and a group task. The screening happens on the first of the SSB and those who make it then go through the five-day interview process. The Pilot Aptitude Battery Test (PABT) for the Flying branch of the Indian Air Force or the Aviation Arm in The Indian Navy takes place on the same first screening day of the SSB. And there is no method to crack this test. ‘It’s just your natural aptitude they test,’ says Wing commander Singha, IAF spokesperson. But you take the PABT test just once in your life. So just in case you aren’t able to clear the test, there are other branches you could apply to. Above all though, Group Captain Signal, a psychologist with The Cavalier, says that one’s confidence should not be superficial ‘no false confidence’. ‘Be yourself and honest, because, if there’s an inconsistency in your answers, it will show you up in the nterview,’ says Major General Kashid. He also notes that candidates are not assessed for their fluency in English as the focus is on the candidate’s outlook, not his language. Personality traits uch as aggressive behaviour, dominating attitude, selfishness tendency to cheat or take shortcuts hurt the candidate’s chances of qualifying says Group Captain Sing Hal. Once the SSB interview is over, candidates then proceed for the medical test, which is a four-to-five day process. And just in case you are failed in the test but are convinced that you are fit then there is a provision to appeal to the Medical Board. Wing Commander Singha, AF spokesperson was failed in the medical test but he appealed to the Medical Board. ‘And I got selected!’

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