Why I Left The Officer’s Training Academy Despite An AIR 2nd In 1st Attempt ?

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                 ©Ambika Bhan

In a disclaimer that this might invite the wrath n criticism of many but I think I owe it to myself n my pillars of support to write , write about my life’s biggest decision.
To Quit The Indian Army

I am not here to justify myself or to answer the many shocking voices of people who have known me , admired me , hated me or envied me. And especially those who so genuinely sought my advice n ‘gyaan’ once I got recommended. I am just here to do what I love doing … Speaking my truth in freedom without fear.

A dear friend and also an army man once told me, ” Indian army doesn’t need women.” I was offended by what he said feeling it as a direct blow to my feminist self. But I should have heard him completely.

Women in the armed forces are just the manifestation of an effort by the Indian state to prove that we believe in gender equality and women empowerment.

1. Lets be frank about it women aren’t serving in combats n r not even needed to actually use a rifle once in the services. So to be logical I wasn’t going to be a warrior like my male counterparts would be.
Secondly 70% of the lady cadets inside had some or the other sort of a pelvic fracture, some even spine fractures… aggravated to the extent that they might not be able to conceive or the effects of these injuries shall be visible in later years.
Now my question … what’s the logic of having such a training regimen that results in you becoming a defaulted piece when u aren’t even going be in combat ?
N by this I don’t mean women are weak . MC Mary Kom could win us a medal even after having 2 kids. But an 11 month crash course to become an officer n that too in weather conditions of Chennai with no concept of any strengthening exercises and no sleep given is of course going to lead to such dire injuries.

Ok , i am not supposed to say this or whatever happens inside the academy but when a human body doesn’t get time to heal and restore itself it breaks and that doesn’t make you strong. Well it just breaks you.
Given the modern lifestyles that we live into its absurd to expect the majority of our generation to be a bodybuilder or something.
I don’t think even Olympic wrestlers would be lifting weights 24/7 for an year.
So Why doesn’t the SSB actually check n recommend the candidates who have been agile n active physically not someone who has always been playing in the pages of a book n busy preparing for competitive exams. Or better still increase the duration n the place of training and gradually get the body accustomed to the changes.

What is so peculiar about the training that a lady cadet doesn’t have her periods for 9-11 months straight.

2.For 23 years of my life , I was taught by my father , my teachers n my books to question everything n not to blindly follow. Because in your questions lies your key to knowledge n in knowledge lies liberation. The opposite of this was what precisely happened inside. Don’t ask questions. Don’t give explainations. The cultural and intellectual overhaul wasn’t something I wanted.
I was told that I will get used to it in 2 months . N of course I will because after 2 months what will emerge will be an entirely different person with a perfect ability to take orders n mechanically respond to them. And I wasn’t ok with it .

3. I was despised n slammed by everyone inside for taking this decision. And I was told,” this is a prestigious academy and people like you ‘topper types’ ‘lawyer types’ with heads filled with ideas of rights , freedom , etc etc are always the ones who leave . We are creating men out of boys here !!! ”
Great … but
What are you creating out of girls , certainly not women ???

In a subtle discourse on equality please observe I am a woman. You can train me to become a warrior . But you can’t turn me into a man and then tell me that ..look ! We have empowered you !
The identity crisis that ensues is idiotic.
And on top of that any contact or even having a basic conversation with a GC is prohibited . Because lets admit this , “For them you are more of an eye candy since they haven’t seen a woman in a long time” .
So what’s the difference in n out ? When a girl is told ,” behave properly, don’t be friendly with guys they’ll think you are available ”
Is it implied that a man’s sexual appetite and desires should guide a woman’s way of life.
Ok for some , but not for me !

I have a body shape and curves.Trust me , I am not interested in inviting or exciting anyone sexually but don’t expect me to magically flatten my cleavage just because the sepoys n the jawans n other GCs are there.

4. If the training at the academies explicitly wants me to shut off my mind and follow orders ( which by the way is necessary for the armed forces) then why did you choose a person who is rational.
I didn’t fake anything at the SSB. My entire interview revolved around me being a Kashmiri and the politics of my state , my take on that. With the zeal n creativity I answered those question my IO complimented me saying,”you know how to play with words”. So how am I being expected to crush and kill that creativity and the love for freedom of speech and expression.  I am a lawyer and a writer on top of that . The last thing I can do in this world is to lower my eyes and say , YES SIR , YES MAM to even the things that are absurd n illogical.

You know it would take more than 2 stars and a uniform for me to justify my purpose and meaning in this world.

5.There is a term called being in DOPE that means your body n mind are exhausted to such a level that your motor skills become weak and you are like those slum dwelling kidnapped drugged children. To quote an example , if a national level debater like me can fail to introduce herself before 30 people then there certainly is a problem.
And for someone who used to study for 12 hours a day I am not able to read even 10 pages at a stretch and understand anything.

6.So another set of taunts that I heard was ,” what will you do outside ? Wear bangles , a saree and have kids ?”
And all this from lady officers .
I was enslaved there , I couldn’t question u back but today I can .
“Our mothers wear a saree , she gave birth to us , does it make her weak ? ”
Oh , and Indira Gandhi wore a saree , did that make her weak?
Doesn’t almost every girl want to be a mother someday? To bring a life into this world .
Its hysterical and almost funny that their notions of strength have skewed to such a level that someone who can’t do 500 pushups is ‘mentally weak’.

7.And , why the showbiz for god sake ? Why ds the cupboard have 2 sets of uniform hanging , just like that n not to be worn.? Why is a harpic n colin issued to you but u aren’t supposed to use it to clean ur bathrooms n buy ur own?

8 .a captain’s wife almost my age and I have to wish her , even if I see her 1000 times … N later maybe even welcome her to a party n click her pictures while she joyously sips her drink. WHY … Rightfully boasting about myself I studied so hard , cracked the ssb , topped the exam to reach there and what did she do ?
Marry an officer ?
Well if that is the amount of respect that an army wife holds , I think its time I should get married to my boyfriend .

9. I had an injury and the doctor advised me that had I continued my both elbows had 90% chances of getting fractured as the angles were too much.

10. And to all those and to my own demons who might lead me to believe that I was a loser and a quitter .

It takes a lot of guts to kick a job of almost 70k bucks , to kick a job that shall give you a class 1 Gazetted officer status in GOI , to kick a job even though you got an AIR 2nd and you were a mini celebrity , to kick a job despite knowing the fact that LOG KYA KAHENGE …

It takes a lot of strength to give up on things as well as people who can’t give you happiness and satisfaction despite of having to bear the taunts of the world.

IF A WOMAN IN COMBATS IS STRONG , THEN A WOMAN WHO DARES TO FOLLOW HER HEART AND DARES TO SPEAK HER TRUTH IS EQUALLY STRONG !!!

© Ambika Bhan (Athena )

P.s- my utmost respect to army n all those who have undergone or are undergoing the training to achieve their dreams. It is awesome and great but it wasn’t right for me ., so please  don’t judge .

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31 Comments Add yours

  1. Sameer says:

    Ambika I appreciate your decision, actually let me tell you frankly army is just like this only. I’m too a gc in Ima.
    Some old tradition is going in these institutions and they won’t change anyhow. Being a guy with a high morale I joined here..but what has left me is with a ligament tear.

    I also don’t support these non sense things going inside.
    The treatment to girls is quite rough I know tht ….but u cannot change the institution’s . Even I tried by complaining but nothing happened….but I didn’t gave up …Right now I m going to pass out this june….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally agree with u n I knew somethings can’t change so I gave up on things that didn’t appeal my logic and happiness. I wasn’t that crazy about fauj , so my withdrawal a chance to some other LC who might be more passionate about the uniform. N trust me it was difficult to take this decision with a constant thought that maybe my parents will have to hear things , etc but still I took

      Like

      1. Ash says:

        Please refer to “70k bucks , to kick a job that shall give you a class 1 Gazetted officer status in GOI , to kick a job even though you got an AIR 2nd and you were a mini-celebrity , to kick a job despite knowing the fact that LOG KYA KAHENGE …”

        Sister, aap Yahaan pe galat ho Gaye. All things said and done, you didn’t join Armed Forces out of passion for guarding the nation. It wasn’t the Jazbaa that pulled you towards olive green. And it certainly wasn’t the ‘madness in the nut’ to Die For The Nation. The bling of money, status (govt of India, class-1 , 70 grand job. Damn, who calls it a job!), glamour was what made you choose this profession with a very high confidence level that “I can top it all”, It was going to be a JOB for you, not a way of life. Shayad, aap ne yeh profession choose karke galti kar di. Or shayad, galti SSB ki thii. No pun intended, many high ranking govt officials didn’t make it through SSB. They are not checking the Rational , intellectually sound, a brainy mind. They look for something else.
        If you really had endured the training, you would have found that the association that you make with your coursemates is life long.And Army grows on you.
        Besides, 11 months of your training and in the capacity of your rank, you could have applied all your Brains, Rationale and Intellect. But yes, the way you want to explore your cabability, that couldn’t have been promised.

        Listen Girl, Achievers don’t make excuses, Leaders don’t make excuses.
        A person possessing courage of conviction would just stay quiet, work his way into his next Ambition and achieve it.
        A brotherly advice, If I were you, and if I had to quit, I would have achieved my next Goal before speaking a thing about the failures of my past.
        Even the Chief of Army Staff calls a Lieutenant’s wife a Ma’am. It is a humble way to show respect to a fellow officer’s spouse. To respect someone is not bringing your stature down.
        P.s: The moment you would have worn stars,being called a Lieutenant and god forbid there was a war, Would you have lifted the weight of an injured soldier out of a situation. Or would you have given him an explanation that I am physically weak, not toughened up, so I am letting you bleed to death here.
        Sums up most of your doubts about physical and mental toughness training.

        Bye, do well girl.

        Like

      2. meforearth says:

        Dhanyavad bro

        Like

      3. Ash says:

        But yes, I am sure you will do very well in whichever field you go.

        Like

  2. All the best to you and may all ur dreams come true

    Like

  3. Ay Em says:

    I don’t ever comment on any public forum, ( because I’m tired of all these unenlightened bigots around ), but I have to say, you’ve restored my faith in the idea of a rational Indian youth.
    I thought there were none left but you proved me wrong.

    You nailed it with your arguments especially this sentence :
    “Women in the armed forces are just the manifestation of an effort by the Indian state to prove that we believe in gender equality and women empowerment”.

    You’re braver than most Indians, including the soldiers!
    All the best!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for understanding what I intended to convey .

      Liked by 1 person

    2. rohitkesari says:

      You can’t compell any one for giving you respect .Respect comes from heart .I’m totally agree with ambika bhan .

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Abhishek says:

    Bravo Athena…I have to follow this blog now…Happy writing.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. alkesh bhatt says:

        Don’t u think there are girls who themselves ask for such equality to join Indian army to prove that they are also capable of standing beside the male candidates,and are happy for being treated equally☺..plz don’t consider my comment on a -ve note

        Like

  5. Alkesh Bhatt says:

    Don’t u think there are girls who themselves ask for such equality to join Indian army to prove that they are also capable of standing beside the male candidates,and are happy for being treated equally☺..plz don’t consider my comment on a -ve note

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Nidhi says:

    Hi Ambika,

    I have been following you from quite long time over fb reading your views, but it made me jump from my chair when the page said – Left the army !

    It was still in my head your call letter stating joining on april 1/2 ,2016 with your name written on it.

    But when i read this article for the reason of this big decision, i understood that things are diff. From what we know and what you experienced and it convinced me that the decision has been justified with the words here.

    All the very best for future challenges n really appreciate your thoughts, i really liked reading some articles by you here. ‘Read it in one GO’

    Regards

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much @nidhi . This means a lot to me . I dream of being known for my words than any other thing

      Like

  7. Meenu says:

    Hiii Ambika…i second u coj i too ve left OTA n AFA that too when i got an AIR 2nd n 4th in my frst attempt…m nt an avid responder but ur post took me by a sense of pride n m forced to write dis…m proud of u n dat too tonnnsss Coj u dared to express wat i was nt dat why n wat i felt while i was leaving d academy but d truth prevails n m happy dat u came up wid it…i knw n understand dat wat n hw it feels to take sch decisions wen ppl starts questioning ur potential n caliber wen only u knw d truth…i too ve undergone all dis…d comments of d ppl outside…but yes it takes ample of courage n strength to stand for wat u feel is right n dis is wat u did…m feeling happy for u n i wish u all d success in ur lyf ahead Coj dere r far more Bttr things ahead den ny v leave behind…n wid ur decision of leaving d Academy m proud of myself too for doing d same…stay blessed n happy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much meenu . You don’t know what it means to me and I understand what you must have felt and undergone . I myself had to take this post off the ssbcrack website when some random sites started creating random stories about me in a misguided way .

      Like

  8. Meenu says:

    Yes i ve seen it dere on ssbcrack n d comments too..i knw dat d truth is bitter to digest n dis is d problem wid d ppl whose comments were against u but being on d same path i jus want u to neglect fools lyk dem who dont knw wat it means to crack SSB in one go n den leaving it.U jus follow ur hrt,do wat u feel is best for u n be mentally strong to give a damn to all kinds of shits flying in d air…u proved ur caliber by cracking it all n u dnt owe ny explanation to nyone.Keep ur head high always no matter wat..

    Like

  9. Kool Charan says:

    Hey Ambika, some of the pts flagged by you are an insight to me too (I am in uniform for the last 12 yrs). But I would disagree with some.
    1. Why not to question your senior?
    Cos most of the times, a cdt does not know what to question. To answer each of those questions would amount to deputing a dedicated offr for each cdt. But once commissioned, there’s lot of scope to question your seniors (when it is logical).

    2. The jibes by your instructors aren’t to be taken seriously.

    3. Having one extra set of everything that remains unused is what you do in battle, for redundancy and flexibility.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for commenting sir . Given your experience I am in no position to contradict you . I would have been really glad had your last point been explained to us . Trust me I wasn’t blunt in my article or else I could have mentioned that eye candy point is not my own imagination our seniors explicitly told that to us . And the article in totality was my initiative to help others determine their suitability for the profession as the life in the academy is mainly kept low profile to the aspirants outside .
      And I hope you understand for people with a creative bent of mind it becomes depressing.

      Thanks again sir

      Like

  10. Hi Ambika hope you are good.The news of your 2nd in merit of UPSC i heard was happy for me but now after reading your post even makes me more happier than ever coz you listen your inner voices .I recently went for ssb but the word of someone their in the crowd bhi y tho wife v badalty hai shocked me i decided to quit from the same. I too listen my inner voices like you did.And thank you to make me writer .All the best for life ahead.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for understanding .

      Liked by 1 person

  11. rimzim says:

    Hi Ambika.. Sorry for cmmemting late…it feels great to see people like u who listen to their conscience follow their heart no matter rather than just blindly following what the situation prevail..u r a girl of high principles. In my opinion the decision taken by u is 110% right…I just wanna congratulate ur parents for having brave daughter like u.U have a long long way to go in life.. And undoubtedly tonnes of milestone of success r waiting for u…u might have no idea ur this decision can inspire million of girls to listen to their heart and fulfill their dreams…I think u r also from J K….we r proud of ..people like ur thinking can change the future of our country…. Hope u very best for the future. And a successful life…..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much young lady

      Like

  12. pixietrumps says:

    What an inspiring piece of writing! I think you have done quite some justice to the ideals of freedom and honesty. Hope you have a fab journey ahead 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Loksainath says:

    Hi Ambika (guess your the one who topped 2nd in ssc but quit ota right ) I don’t know how to get in touch with you so I’m adding in comments
    This is Loksainath from Bangalore, I just read your experience in ota, very sad to hear that. My girl is under training in ota (2017-2018) I need to discuss with you certain things regarding her carrier, it would be great if you can respond back.
    Waiting for your reply
    Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

    1. meforearth says:

      Yes sir , its me. You may discuss anything that you want to but please dont take my article as a conclusion that there is something wrong with the academy . My article was meant as my personal evaluation to the army training and what someone like me would feel. I just wanted to express what didn’t work out for me. But may be it might work out for orhers . But anyways you may speak your heart out . Here is my email address . ambikapilot@gmail.com

      Like

  14. A.A Chauhan says:

    Good evening ma’am!
    Although you’ve left the academy,I would love to learn more about it!(as I hope to see myself there soon!)

    Liked by 1 person

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