Hard work and dedication pay off, here is an example which supports this statement. Abhinav Vatsa, a software professional, made it through in his seventh attempt, for the TGC entry of Indian Army. Having been rejected six times from the service selection boards, he never let failure get the better of him, and that perhaps is the reason he cleared his medicals after getting a temporary rejection and got through the merit list as well. SSBCrack got a chance to have a conversation with him, which will be inspirational and helpful for all the aspirants. We wish Abhinav a great life ahead in training and in service.
- Congrats Abhinav, for making it to the Army, how does it feel knowing that you have it in you?
- Thanks a lot Tashi. It feels so satisfying that I have finally got to know what it takes to be an army officer. All the hard work and focused preparation has finally paid off. This is my biggest achievement in my life so far. God willing, more to follow soon.
- What was your motivation behind joining Army?
- I belong from a family where no one has ever been into the defence services. My only motivation has been the impressive lifestyle of the army and above that the selfless dedication to serve our nation before self. These two aspects of our army has always inspired me to join this elite organization.
- As we know, this wasn’t your first attempt, what special preparation you did this time, in order to clear it?
- Very true, this was my seventh attempt in which I cleared the SSB. I took a different approach in which I prepared for the psychs, GTOs and the interviews independently every day. I also made a small group of other SSB aspirants here in Pune who were apparently working in the IT and aspired to join the armed forces. We all practiced together and that contributed a lot. I think every exam needs a good preparation. And for a robust preparation, you need a good feedback about your preparation regularly. This will improve your methods and help you to remove any loose ends during entire preparation process.
- Weren’t you disappointed by the failure in your previous attempts? What did you do to overcome that?
- Disappointments are the part and parcel of the failure. I clearly remember the day I went for my first SSB in September 2009 for NDA-I entry in Bhopal. I was screened out. I went to the station and took a corner in the platform while waiting for my train back to home. I cried a lot. I had never cried like that before. And, before leaving Bhopal that day, I made a resolution to get recommended and join the army from here itself. I guess, god had heard me then and hence I made my first recommendation cleared from here itself. In subsequent attempts (Not-Recommended in all next five attempts), I made a point to note down as many small observations that I had made in my attempt so that I do not make the same mistake again in future. I wrote down all the questions being asked, remembered my psych responses as much as I could. These inputs made me to prepare well for next SSB attempts. The only thing that I had kept constant was the NEVER GIVE UP attitude. That made me overcome my disappointments a lot. Moreover, I have got a very good group of friends who were always with me during this time and encouraged me to keep on trying until I don’t succeed.
- You got a TR in your medical. What was it for, and what did you do to recover?
- Yes, I got a TR for two conditions viz. Knock knees and overweight by 8 KGS. As soon as I came back to Pune, I consulted a very reputed civil ortho-surgeon and did a full check-up of the knock knee situation. He said I had very mild knock knees which is acceptable for rigorous physical tasks needed in the defence services and handed me a medical fitness certificate from his end! 😛 . However, I did my bit of research on the internet and noted down some physiotherapy exercises to reduce knock knee issue. I also kept a hard pillow between my knees and tied tightly with belts for more than a month till I went for the AMB. It was very irritating while sleeping but I was able to pull out some good hours nap later after a few more days. For overweight, I did regular cardio workout (daily 2 hours min.). I jogged, did crunches, push-ups, pull-ups, cross country trainer loops, cycling. I maintained a strict exercise pattern and did it at my office gym post office hours. One thing is to be noted that, a good diet plan (mostly fruits based except banana with lots of water) and ability to lose as much sweat as possible is needed to burn fats at a rapid rate. I was 78 KGS when weighed during my medical checkup and MH Bhopal around 27th April 2015. On 3rd June 2015, I was weighed 69 KGS at CH (SC) Pune and declared medically fit. For knock-knees, I had been also declared medically fit.
- Were you nervous at any time, because of your TR, or because of the merit list that you’ll not make it? What steps did you take to get out of that feeling?
- I became quite nervous after my medical conference. But, I told myself this: “If I have made it so far, I will definitely make it till the end no matter whatever it demands”. Self-motivation and faith in your actions plays a very important role in our lives which helps us to achieve things that we could have else never thought of. As soon as was able to see my weight getting reduced and my knock-knee getting better a bit, I was confident that I’ll clear the medicals. It is just the matter of time. All I did was followed my routine and felt confident about getting in. With All India merit rank 4 (Computer Science), I was very happy to know that I performed very well in my SSB back in Bhopal. It has filled me with enough josh and confidence that I can take up any challenge in my life later without ever doubting on my capabilities.
- You are working in the Software Industry currently, how different will Army life be, will you face difficulty in coping up?
- Yes, IT industry job is quite different from the army life. The only thing common between these two is the spirit of teamwork. I’ve been working close to two years in IT industry. Life has been very comfortable: AC offices, good food, corporate feeling and chance to work with people located on different global pinpoints. However, army life will be a different taste which I’m sure will be equally exciting and challenging. It will definitely be difficult for me and my family as well. But, this too shall pass. Life has different flavors for me in my plate, I’m glad to be a part of this kind of life, where every flavor is a challenge and every challenge is conquerable.
- Was it difficult to prepare for SSB, while working?
- It was quite difficult. Luckily, the project in which I was working had normal shift timings which gave me good amount of time in mornings and nights. However, the challenge was to maintain my work-life balance. I had to perform well in my job as well as prepare harder for the SSBs. During my job, I attended a total of four SSBs including this one. Every time, I went for the next SSB, it became tougher to get holidays and time to prepare for the SSB due to increasing work and dependency on my role. Then I had to choose between my dream and my job else I could’ve never made up. I chose my dream first. I cancelled all my home trips which I had planned in past one and half years to save adequate vacation for full SSB tenure. I also averted a chance to travel to the states for job based assignment. I just thought of clearing the SSB and getting into the army and make all these sacrifices worth of them. At the end of the day, the quote by Shaheed Capt. Manoj Kr. Pandey always filled me with energy to continue with my pursuit: “Some goals are so worthy, it’s glorious even to fail”. I decided to follow it by my heart.
- What success mantra would you like to give to the candidates?
- Fellow defence aspirants, just make sure that you don’t fool around with yourself. Know your capabilities well and limitations too. Work harder on them.
Optimism and Determination will keep you going
Work smarter and remain focused. I know it is hard, it is supposed to be. But you got to be much harder to handle what’s coming next for you. So, buckle up and never ever give up! Trust me, if you can take it, you can make it.
- Did you take any coaching for SSB preparation? What is your view on coaching?
- Until this attempt, I always refrained from taking any SSB coaching in my past. A very good friend of mine suggested to try it for this time and see if I can improve my attempt. So, I took his advice to join a coaching academy here in Pune. I went on weekends since I had my office on working days. I spent the entire day there and I’m really thankful to my mentor there who helped me in bringing out the best in me. His words filled with confidence: “you should be able to get recommended this time, I’m confident” always echoed whenever I felt low or helpless during my SSB. This gave enough energy to boost me up and give my best.I believe taking a coaching is not a bad idea at all. However, losing originality in your ideas and actions and making the sample solutions as given during classes your own is not recommended. A coaching should be taken as a feedback system where you get genuine feedback on your responses and actions. Nothing more than that. If you have never taken a coaching and are in dilemma to take or not, I suggest you to take it but always remember to work separately on your preparations. Take it only as a feedback provider to your responses, as a source to suggest you better ideas which will help you to come up with your own solutions rather than just memorizing the ones given there.
- Do you think repeaters have a hard time in SSB?
- Partially yes. The more the number of attempts the more slimmer are the chances to perform well in future. This is my personal observation. However, I always tell my friends with higher attempts to take it as a positive point. You guys have more idea about the whole SSB process and this will definitely give an edge to your performance. Believe me, if you are able to perform just normal without any superficial attempts, that’s more than enough for the assessors to judge you and recommend you. Repeaters can always impress their assessors with their concise and to the point responses to all the situations in front of them. As per my experience, the assessors expect the repeaters to be more calm, composed and knowledgeable on the subject matter. They do not expect you to be a perfect aspirant. A perfect aspirant is just a myth. So, though the chances become slimmer, but yes repeaters can change the game of their own SSB if performed well and in right time.
- Thank You for talking to SSBCrack. We wish you a successful career head.
- The pleasure’s all mine. I wish you guys all the best to keep up this wonderful job going up. The entire SSBCrack team is doing a wonderful work and helping thousands of aspirants to shape their dreams. May you all achieve the pinnacles of success in your lives. Jai Hind!