Hey friends, my name is Vidit Biswas and through this reading transcript, I’d like to share my SSB experience. Belonging to an Army background, it has always been my dream to don the uniform, earn those stars on the shoulder and most importantly, follow my father’s footsteps. Army has given me everything. It has been instrumental in helping me become the person I am today. An added motivation has always been there to give something back to the profession which has given me everything. I’ve been dreaming of getting into NDA since 9th class when my best friend’s elder brother got through to NDA. That josh has ever been on the rise since then. I’ve been conferenced out once for NDA-138. And that rejection helped me introspect as to where I went wrong and what all qualities I lack and need to develop, with reference to the OLQs. I gave NDA written exam again in April this year. I had started my preparation for SSB quite early only because my paper had gone well and was confident of clearing it. I started practicing writing stories and positive sentences within the time frame. Improved my handwriting as well as the speed, as these things matter too apart from your ideas.
Finally, the call-up letter came and I had my reporting date on 13 August 2017 at Allahabad. This time I was confident and much more ready to face the SSB. So our screening took place on 14 August and out of the 45 who reported, 36 were screened in. We had a repeaters batch of 9 candidates, including a cadet from the Indian Naval Academy. The next day we had the psychology tests. I completed all the 12 stories in TAT, did 59 words in WAT, 47 situations in SRT and the day rounded off with the SDT. Few candidates had their interviews on that day itself.
Next up were the GTO tasks. The GDs went well. Gave 4-5 valid factual points in the discussions. The topics that we chose were- 1.” In order to counter the Chinese threat, who do you think India should ally with- Japan, USA or Russia?” 2.” Many south Indian colleges have imposed dress restrictions on women. Is it their discriminatory behaviour, influence of western culture or something else?” The next task, GPE went well too. Prioritised the problems with apt solutions. The discussion also went well and Chest no 36 was nominated to give the group plan. Then we had PGT. In PGT, we managed to reach PGT-4 but then got stuck. Helped the group and gave 3-4 ideas, though not satisfactory performance. Next up was GOR. It was an activity full of josh and it was fun. Though I and my group mates still don’t know why we kept “bahubali” as our war cry! After being done with the HGT, we had our lecturette on the same day. I spoke on “AFSPA”. According to me, I delivered a good talk with a bit of history, facts, the present scenario and the future course of action. Next day was the GTO 2 day which started off with the Individual Obstacles. I completed 12 obstacles. My Command task, id say was slightly difficult but I did it in time. And the GTO technique rounded off with the FGT.
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As I was chest no 35, I had my Interview on the GTO 2 day, after the GTO tasks. It went for around 35-40 mines. The IO asked questions regarding family, studies, and friends. Asked some GK and current affairs questions. He tried to make me uncomfortable by calling me by some words, and abusing, which I hadn’t expected that he’d say out something of this sort! But I didn’t freak out. I was taken aback though but soon maintained composure thinking that he is maybe checking do I react unnecessarily or not. I grew a bit tensed after my interview thinking about how it went about because obviously, something had happened which I had not expected. Nevertheless, I looked forward to the conference the next day.
Before the conference began, the Deputy President of our SSB gave the closing address. He told us to not lose heart if we don’t make it and that we may excel in some other fields. He rounded off the closing address by saying- ‘’Your life has just begun, so you never know what good is in store for you’’
After chest no 34, one of my best buddies in SSB Sukhmandeep’s conference ended, my discussion started and it went around for 5-6 mins. Then my chest no displayed on the screen and I went in. I greeted the officers and was asked to sit. Then a series of regular questions came about my stay, the places I visited, suggestions etc. Then my IO asked me- ‘’ So Vidit, what was the most challenging day for you in these 5 days?’’ I answered- “Sir, I believe that GTO1 day was a bit challenging for me. Particularly in PGT I couldn’t give very good ideas. But overall, the day was satisfactory as my GPE went well and also the lecturette as I chose a good topic and spoke well of it.” Next question that he asked was- “who all do you think can get recommended from your group?” based on the performance of my group mates, I answered honestly that- “Sir I think that Chest No 32 and 34 will make it from our group” he was taken aback and questioned me- “why didn’t you take your name?” I answered that- “ Sir, I believe that these two were the best performers from our group in GTO tasks, based on the level of ideas that they gave and the effort they did to take the group forward. And the reason I didn’t take my name is that I couldn’t present that level of ideas which is expected from a repeater, particularly in PGT. So I believe that I couldn’t live up to the expectations expected from a repeater. Some tasks of GTO technique is the area where I believe I lacked behind my group mates.” So after this, he said “Thank you Vidit. God bless you.” And this way my conference rounded up.
We were made to sit in a hall and the series of those anxious pre-results moments began. Then our psychologist came in with a file to declare the results. The moment Chest No 35 was announced in the third time, I just lost it there! We were supposed to stand up and say out our UPSC roll no and our name. I was so choked up with emotions that I somehow found my voice to say out my roll no, but said it wrong! As I said I had just lost it! I broke down saying my name and… I just couldn’t stop crying. I WAS ON CLOUD NINE. All those difficult months after my initial rejection, all those thoughts of self-doubt that I had earlier, everything vanished at that very moment! My hard work had earned me the fruit and the “+” sign chest no which every defence aspirant dreams of getting, initially. I said to myself that,” This is just the beginning. YOU ARE AT THE BASE CAMP. THE CLIMB IS UP AHEAD.”Recommendation after rejection- The success tastes very sweet! The whole feeling was surreal. Absolutely.
All in all, 7 of us made the cut. 5 freshers, the Indian Naval Academy cadet, and me the only repeater. A new band of brothers was formed comprising of Rithesh, Dinesh, Jagmohan, Nitish, Kartikey(bhalu!), Dev, me and also one of my best friends- Ravinder, who got recommended from 34 SSB. We enjoyed our time thoroughly during the medicals! Went places watched movies and had a lot of fun! After the medical, 3 of us including me were found to be unfit. I appealed at Base Hospital, Delhi Cantt and was declared fit! Hope Kartikey and Nitish also make it through the appeal board and every one of us makes the merit list!
For all the future SSB attendees, a piece of advice. Be genuine, be natural, be raw. Don’t present a different-you at the SSB. And don’t come under stress if one task/activity doesn’t go well. What I learned from my experience is that they are looking for your bouncing back ability. How you perform the next day/task after not doing well the previous day/task. That bouncing back ability is required instead of sitting morose and thinking again and again about something which didn’t go well.
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