Memorable Experience of College Days
by Vaman Acharya
There was a pin drop silence in the pre-university arts class. The students patiently listened to the lecture on Shakspear's 'Macbeth'. Suddenly, peon of the college entered the class and put a paper on the table and left. The Lecturer had a glance over the paper and continued the lecture for another ten minutes. The students were instructed to come back fully prepared to face the question & answer session. He told Vasu to meet the Principal right now.
Vasu was surprised and eager to know the reason for calling him. He went to the chamber of the Principal. In those days there were few colleges in small towns. Adarsh Degree College of Arts & Science was in Pavanpur, a small town in South India.
"Congratulations! Vasu, You have been selected for National Cadet Corps (NCC) Junior training for ten days at Pratap Nagar in Karnataka. One week remains for preparations. Take this official letter. Meet Mr. Parameshwar, Physical Instructor who will guide you about the NCC training. I wish you all the best," said the Principal.
"Thank You, Sir," replied Vasu.
The news of Vasu going to NCC training spread in the college. Pre-university arts class monitor Jagadish and Pre-university science class monitor Shashidhar approached the Principal.
"Sir, many students are interested to go for NCC training. I am unable to know why Vasu has been selected?" said Jagadish
"Sir, it is an injustice," said Shashidhar.
Principal calmly heard their complaint and replied.
"Both of you did mistake for not seeing the notice board. A notice was displayed one month back. All the details like eligibility, age, a period of training, place and last date of submission of application were mentioned. Only ten students had applied before the due date. Among them, we have selected Vasu after conducting physical exercises under the supervision of Physical Instructor. He is best among the ten students. The government has permitted to send one boy from our college. Do you know NCC is voluntary? Is it clear?"
"Sir, I and Jagadish both are strong and sturdy, whereas Vasu is weak. I wonder how he has been selected," said Shashidhar.
"Sir, I don't understand the method of selection. To my knowledge only healthy students are eligible for NCC training," said Jagadish.
"Jagadish and Shashidhar, don't question my authority. If you are interested, you should have applied before the due date. At this juncture, I am sorry. I cannot help you," replied Principal.
Jagadish and Shashidhar had to cut a sorry figure. They expressed apology and left the place.
Three days before the training, Vasu met Parameshwar in the morning and requested him for a briefing about NCC. He told Vasu to present in the central hall of the college on the same day at 5 p.m. Accordingly, Vasu was present. Parameshwar arrived right time and gave a brief information about NCC.
"Vasu, I would like to brief you about NCC. The organisation was established in the year 1948. NCC is the organisation regulated under the Ministry of Defence. Provide basic military training, inculcate the feeling of comradeship, courage, honesty and above all the patriotism. During the ten days camp, you have to undergo basic training like a drill, weapon training, adventure training and social service activities etc."
"Sir, please explain me by giving examples and showing map and videos."
"Yes! I have got everything with me to explain."
Parameshwar explained each activity with examples and showing maps, images and videos.
"Have you understood the concept?" asked Parameshwar.
"Yes, sir," replied Vasu.
"I am giving you the list of things to be carried along with you. They are a plate to eat, a glass, a water bottle, a pair of uniform, sports shoes, bathroom slipper, boots with socks, shorts, t-shirts, mosquito repellant cream, toothpaste, soap bathing, washing, coconut oil, a formal dress, shaving set, shoe polish and brush," said Parameshwar.
Vasu expressed thanks to the teacher.
Return State Transport bus ticket was already reserved by the college. The required amount was paid to him as an advance. The bus journey from Pavanpur to
Pratap Nagar is about 500 kilometres. Twelve hours required to reach the place. The bus leaves Pavanpur at 8 in the night and reaches Pratap Nagar next day morning 8. Vasu left the previous day of the training and reached the destination right time.
The camp area was three kilometres away in the open area from the bus stand. Vasu with backpack preferred to go by walk. The climate was pleasant. It took fifteen minutes to reach the camp area. The camp area was spread over in five acres of land. The tents were already pitched for the comfortable stay of the cadets. The minimum amenities like carpet on the ground, cots with the bed was provided.
Provision to keep utensils was also available. In each tent, there was an accommodation for five cadets. There were ten tents to accommodate fifty cadets. A number of bathrooms and toilets were provided outside the tents. All the tents were given appropriate names depicting bravery like Vijayadhwaj, Parakram, Patriot, Shoor and Veer etc. In the open area, all the activities were conducted. One army jawan was sitting on the chair with table. He had a register containing the names of cadets and their full particulars like full name, college, place etc. He checked up the name of Vasu and asked him to sign in the register with the date of joining the camp. He was asked to collect uniform in the makeshift office.
Thereafter, he told Vasu to occupy Vijayadhwaj tent and keep the baggage. Rajesh from Rajasthan was one of the tent mates of Vasu. He took the pamphlet containing 10 days daily activities like a drill, shooting, physical fitness, map reading, first aid, gliding/flying. The timings were given right from morning to evening. Cadets were instructed to get up at 5 a.m.daily. They must be ready in half an hour for run excessively 2 kilometres minimum. Afterwards, they were asked 50 pushups, 50 situps.
The breakfast was served at 8 a.m. with idli, dosa, bananas and milk. Lunch was served at 1 p.m. The food includes rice, dal, chapati, eggs etc. Light food was served for dinner at 8.30 p.m. The training time was between breakfast and lunch. Half an hour rest after lunch. Again the training will be continued up to 6 p.m. All cadets must go to bed at 9 in the night. The first night experience of Vasu was marvellous. On that night wind was blowing like crazy throughout. He was woken up early in the morning, It was too cold.
Vasu and other cadets assembled in the quadrangle dressed in the uniform. One day while doing drill Baye mood, dhaine mood, the peeche mood quickly left-left- right-right Vasu committed a mistake. The order was given a right turn, Vasu turned left. The army officer, who was conducting the drill became angry and asked him to run fast 2 kilometres and return. In the middle, Vasu fell down and unable to walk further. Realising his pitiable condition army officer told him to go to a tent and take rest. In another occasion, Vasu failed to hit the target in the shooting. He was given punishment. The third time Vasu committed another mistake in map reading. He received mild punishment. This time army officer warned him not to commit mistakes in future. Vasu took all the punishments seriously and weeping alone in the tent. His tent mate Rajesh realising his worry came to the tent and gave encouragement to treat all the punishments as a lesson and move forward. Vasu expressed thanks to Rajesh.
On the concluding day of the training, a farewell function was arranged. Local leader was invited as a chief guest. In his speech, he said, "The motto of the organisation is "Unity and Discipline (Ekta Aur Anushasan). Four principles of NCC are obeyed with a smile, be punctual, work hard without fuss, make no excuses and tell lies."
Vasu received 'A' certificate of NCC from the chief guest.
He returned back to Pavanpur. Vasu had a wonderful experience of NCC during his college days. ***