Date : 18 Sep 21
- I hope this letter finds you, your family, the faculty and the children of the school in the best of health in these challenging times. I am an alumnus of the school’s 2000 batch. Wg Cdr Avtar Singh (Retd) was the principal at the time and the present Vice-Principal Mrs. Vijay Lakshmi was our English teacher . After completing school, I was selected for NDA and thereafter joined the Air Force in the Flying Branch, fighter stream.
- I write to you filled with a sense of pride and humility. On 15th Aug this year I have been awarded Shaurya Chakra by the President of India in recognition of an act of gallantry on 12 Oct 20. I credit this prestigious award to all those I have been associated with over the years in school, NDA and thereafter the Air Force as I firmly believe that my actions that day were a result of the grooming and mentoring by teachers, instructors and peers over the years.
- I write to share some thoughts about my life which I feel may help and inspire children who might feel that they are meant to be only mediocre in this hyper competitive world.
- I was a very average student who barely scored 1st division in 12th class. Even though I was made the Discipline Prefect in 12th , I was equally average even in sports and other co-curricular activities, But I had a passion for airplanes and aviation. I represented the school in Aeronautical Society of India Quiz twice and we stood 2nd and 3rd in those events.
- As I went to NDA, I passed out as an OC(Officer Cadet) and did not excel either in studies or sport to make the cut to be an appointment in NDA. It is when I reached AFA that I started to realise that my passion of aviation gave me an edge over my peers. Still, even then I lacked confidence in my true capabilities.
- I lacked confidence as I always thought I was meant to be average and there was no point in trying to excel, as I possibly couldn’t excel at anything. After commissioning as a young Flight Lieutenent in a Fighter Squadron I realised that I could do well if I put my mind and heart to it. I started working to be that best I could be, as opposed to only making sure I achieve the ‘pass’ standard.
- It is at this point that things started to turn around in my professional and personal life. I resolved to do each task to the best of my abilities, whether it was flying or otherwise. I was soon selected to undergo the challenging Flying Instructors course, wherein I bagged two trophies out of the five.
- Subsequently I volunteered for the prestigious and rigorous Experimental Test Pilot course which had a 4 stage selection and only 7 out of 59 pilots who appeared made it through. And during the 11 months long course one of the pilots was withdrawn from the course as he could not cope with the rigours of the course.
- Thereafter, I was selected to undergo the prestigious Staff College abroad and on return was posted to as Tejas aircraft Suadron even though I had crossed the seniority bracket to qualify for change of aircraft. My credentials as an Experimental Test Pilot were the reason for the challenging and exciting posting.
- In 2019 I was in the first list of 12 candidates for ISRO’s Gaganyaan program. Though, I did not make the final cut due to a medical requirement. Subsequently, last year on the fateful day, I was faced with a grave and critical failure in my aircraft. The SOP required me to eject and abandon the aircraft. However, I took a few calculated risks and managed to land the aircraft without any damage to either the aircraft or civilians. The citation for the award is attached as reference.
- I bring out the above not to blow my trumpet or with a desire to seek a pat in the back. I write to let the children know a few of the following thoughts of my life experiences that may help them in future.
- “It is ok to be mediocre. Not everyone will excel at school and not everyone will be able to score in the 90s. If you do, its an amazing achievement and must be applauded. However, if you don’t, do not think that you are meant to be mediocre. You may be mediocre in school but it is by no means a measure of things to come in life. Find your calling, it could be art, music, graphic design, literature etc. Whatever you work towards, be dedicated , do your best. Never go to bed thinking I could have put in more effort.
- Never lose hope, never think that you cannot be good at what you want to be. It will not come easy, it will take effort, it will require sacrifice of time and comfort. I was mediocre and today I have reached difficult milestones in my career. Do not think that the 12th board marks decide what you are capable of achieving in life. Believe in yourself, work towards it.”
- I would be deeply humbled if in your judgement some part of this story may be shared with the children, especially the teens as thy near adulthood with its complexities of societal pressures, academic challenges and a sometimes an uncertain and frightening future.
- If I am is able to inspire even one child believe him/her in himself/herself I would have achieved my objective of writing to you.
- Once again reiterating, the honour I have been bestowed is a result of my grooming over the years starting from school. I still hold my teachers in the highest of esteem and thank them for where I am in my life and career.
With heartfelt humility and gratitude,