Chest no. 1 was it that they used to call me, my name was almost lost during those 5 days of my SSB(Service Selection Board) interview.
Starting from the form filling of CDSE, I remember that I was never serious about joining the Defence services. I still remember the day when Sandeep(My class fellow a dear friend) was filling up the form and asked me to fill it up too..He himself brought the form and gave it to me. The same unseriousness was with the exam, We just went to the examination venue, without having any preparation for it.Exam was on 14th February, spoiling the awaited plans for that day. My exam centre was at Lodhi Road, which coincided with some of my friends.
We all gave the exam blindly but thankfully and fortunately the exam wasn’t tough at all, it just required a little bit of common sense and logical thinking. After it, we all were busy in our Practicals, Exams and our lives. The time went on, and we simply forgot about it. Now, was the result time, I didn’t even know the Result date and the site where to know it from. Once again my friends helped me. It was in June 2010, on checking the result, I found only me and my brother cleared the exam from all the friends, who applied. This was ironical in many respects. Little later in few days. we got the call letter too, from UPSC, instigating the venue, date, terms and conditions, of the SSB interview.
Our venue was in Bangalore and the date we had to reach there, was 23rd of AUGUST by 3:00 pm. Excited as were we, we waited anxiously, booked the tickets, arranged the necessary requirements as predicted in the call letter, and reported the Bangalore City Railway Station, on the desired date and time. It was then, that Our trip towards astonishing and surprising standard of life began. There were around 94 aspirants in our batch waiting for their luck and hardwork to ripen. At the scheduled time, We all were in the bus, a bus of ‘Indian Army’, and in few minutes, we have entered the Selection centre South, Bangalore.
The day of reporting wasn’t included in the SSB interview 5-days’ Schedule. It was just to fill up some forms, which included, a PIQ form, a TA form, etc. and allocation of barracks to the candidates. We were eight fellows in a barrack. Then comes the first day.
It was the screening day. We have to report at 6:00 am, so everyone woke up at 4:00 am, to get ready.The screening included a series of tests which decides whether you are required for next 4 days to assess your qualities or you are sent back the very first day. The tests included : an intelligence test, a PPT(Picture Perception Test), a narration, and a GD(Group Discussion) on the stories made by Group fellas to converge onto a single general consensus. The way it went for me, I thought I would be screened out. The result was shocking, the guys who we felt had a better chance were screened out. only three in our roommates, and 59 in all 94 were selected. rest were sent back the very first day. This was the thing, which was not pleasing. You can’t be sure of your selection at any cost.
The chest numbers were re-given to all 59 candidates. Being the youngest, I was given Chest No. 1. Rooms were re-allocated, and so we had new roommates for once more. The day ended in a confusion, I was asking myself what went wrong with others that they weren’t selected, and what went right for me, that I got selected.
It was a psychological test day. There was a booklet given and a series of tests, were there, to check out the state of mind, level of thinking, reaction to situations. The tests included An aptitude test, SRT(Situation Reaction Test), WAT(Word Association Test), Story Writing, etc.
The same day after the tests were over, many of us were called for the interviews, usually the candidates are called in sequence but interview may not be done in sequence necessarily. First 10 candidates were called for the interview and it was taken individually at different places and in random order. Mine was 17 SSB(Indian Army Board), some had interviews in 12 SSB(Indian Navy Board), thus IO(Interviewing Officers) were also different.
Now it was an Outdoor Task day, where we had Group tasks. Firstly, we had a Group Discussion on a topic chosen by us from the topics given by GTO(Group Task Officer) among the members of each group particularly. There were 6 groups each containing 9-10 candidates, and each group had there own GTOs.
In GD,first we got the topic ‘What is the biggest problem faced by India today among Corruption, Global Warming, and Terrorism?’
and the second topic ‘In current Education System student are facing extreme pressure from there peer students, or teachers or parents?’
After this, We had Military Planning test. There was a sitution given with a no. of problems occuring simultaneously, and you have to find solutions to those problems within the specified time limit and with the resources supplied.
Then there was GT(Group Task) where a series of obstacles are there, which a group has to cross with a set of materials and a set of rules.
Then there was a Lecturette where each of the candidates had to speak on a chosen topic for 2:30 minutes infront of his group members.
Then there was a Half Group Task, where group was further divided into two, and each one has to perform the task same as GT.
Then comes the most interesting part ‘The Snake Race’, I would prefer you find it yourself what it basically is ;-).
Then comes the IO(Individual Obstacles test) which was a test of your physical agileness, strength and your confidence, thinking. There were 10 obstacles to cross individually in 2:30 minutes. Each obstacle specifies a given no. of points.
While some groups had the GT going on, some had there interviews.
The final Group tasks include CT(Command Task) where each individual has to command his two chosen group members while performing a task. It is done to check his leadership quality and participation.
Now comes the Conference day, the day deciding the fate of all the candidates. This day all the three, the Psychologist, the IO, the GTO, sit together to decide who is in, who is out. If all three say Yes, then only the candidate is recommended. The thing they look for in a candidate is OLQ(Officer Like Qualities), and what qualities are those are still hidden in many aspects to the real world. The Conference has a formal procedure where each candidate in their Chest sequence, has to meet all the three testers simultaneously.
Then the results,(the result may come good or bad, but the anxiety before it is always same 🙂 ). In our Batch N-CSE/68999 only 7 were recommended for the medical test, rest had to leave the same day. I was in the rest, so could not tell much about the medical tests, but I know, those tests are secondary, the prime focus is always towards getting RECOMMENDED, and the first step towards becoming an Officer of Indian Army.
Though I didn’t get selected and I know I never had so much preparations or confidence towards joining Armed Forces, I will never forget those days. Those 5 days though sent us back unsuccessful, but we didn’t returned empty-handed, We had a exciting, cheerful and inspiring experience, which would help us all our lives, it changed the way we think and execute our plans, how we talk, walk and be in groups, it changed the beliefs and our way of living.
I am thankful to my friends, Our Indian Armed Forces, and their selection centres to rekindle the dead spirits in me. The age limit is 23 for the Indian Army, and I am 21, so, I do have 2 years more to try again. And I will not miss the chances now, anyhow…. 🙂
One statement of the wall posters of our barracks that still roams in mind every now and then and will always do is –
“DO YOU HAVE IT IN YOU?” -Indian Army
I can’t say about you, but in my point of view if you are above 18, you are just an adult, and if you want to be a MAN, then join Indian Army.