Tuesday, October 28

SSB — Experience of a lifetime Aneet Kanwal Randhawa (The Tribune)


AN employment-seeking youth knocks all possible doors till he finally makes a cut. At times, the search for new vistas continues even beyond that. Yet all of you who have in this course had a chance to face a selection board for recruitment to defence forces would agree with me about how holistic the entire process is — a process, in which every aspect of your personality is uncovered with such finesse that any effort on your part to conceal it or portray it differently is made futile.

‘Late bloomer’ as I am often referred to by my friends, the only opportunity left for me to join the Army at my age was the 
Indian Territorial Army entry which is a three-stage process. I was fortunate to reach the third stage, which was the selection board. I was allotted the selection centre east at Allahabad, where I arrived with all the gusto of a prospective Army officer, hopeful of making the cut.

I had no idea that my being a part of this four-day selection process would be such a value addition. Being a part of the Army fraternity for these days is an experience in itself. The largesse of the Army lies in the fact that every prospective officer is treated as good as an officer. You are offered a sumptuous meal and a comfortable lodging, something which is unthinkable in any other recruitment process.

A typical day with a selection board starts early. At 4.30 a.m. when you are in deep slumber, you are suddenly woken by the washer man’s call, asking for your laundry, in an astounding pitch to scare the hell out of you. You miss him and your evenings are ruined washing your laundry. You report for your breakfast at 5.30 a.m. in the dress code specified for the day. At 6 you report for the day's grilling sans your watch. When you are done with your day's tasks, to your utter surprise, it is barely 11 a.m. Quite a lesson in effective time management, I must say.

PPDT, SRT, WAT, PGT, IO etc. may be quite a familiar terminology for those who have faced a selection board at some point of their life. Yet, for the benefit of others I would like to state that these are various psychological testing techniques adopted by the selection boards. The dexterity with which the group task officers and psychologists check your perceptions, reactions to crisis situations, behaviour in groups and personality conflicts is amazing. The selection process reaches its summit with the interview, which is a virtual CT scan of your personality.

Yet the most memorable task which I executed was the individual obstacle task. And to add to the fun, it was held in the midst of torrential rain. 'Tiger leap' was the most interesting obstacle in which from a raised platform I had to take a leap akin to a tiger’s leap and cling on to a hanging rope and come down. Soon I found myself huffing and puffing and being unable to complete all the tasks in the specified time, yet having a sense of satisfaction over the fine display of perseverance.

In the final conference, when results are to be announced, you are counselled to be prepared for any eventuality. You are told that how great achievers like Amitabh Bachchan and A.P.J. Abdul Kalam came out unsuccessful from selection boards. Indeed, a great gesture.

You come out of the selection board as a transformed individual. You are able to appreciate the synergy of a group. You have a better sense of national integration. And finally, you have bonds to cherish for a lifetime. A must go for all, at least once, not for success or failure, but for the experience it offers.

Source :The Tribune Chandigarh
Article link: Here

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