Hyderabad: For the first time, two cadets of the Telangana Social Welfare Sainik School (TSWSS) in Rukmapur have cracked the National Defence Academy (NDA) examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).
Mallesh Yadav and Prateek Kumar successfully cleared the exam and have qualified for the interview to be conducted by the Services Selection Board (SSB) of the ministry of Defence for admission to Army, Navy, and Air Force.
Colonel Ravindra Reddy, the director of TSWSS, believes that their achievement has fulfilled the purpose of starting a Sainik school for children from marginalised communities of Telangana. The school was started in 2018-19 with Colonel Reddy, a retired Army officer, as its director.
Col. Reddy expressed his happiness and said this achievement, though a small step forward, will boost the morale of the staff and the cadets and motivate them to work harder. He added, “Both the cadets who cracked the exam come from villages and both have worked hard to clear the exam. Our area was a containment zone at the time of the exam. I can say that the boys have come from a containment zone to a cantonment area.”
The 16-year-old cadet, Mallesh Yadav, whose father is a farmer and shepherd in Wanaparthy, told NewsMeter, “I couldn't believe that I had cracked the exam. I informed my parents as soon as I got to know about the results. They only knew that I was writing some exam in Hyderabad but had no idea what the NDA exam is about as they are not educated. Still, they supported me when I told them I want to write the exam. They were a great support to me during the pandemic, too, as our school was in a containment zone.”
He added, “Our teachers and the director has always encouraged us to work hard instead of taking shortcuts. They taught us not to believe in luck and instead work hard to achieve our goals. Our day in the school starts at 4 a.m and ends at around 10:30 p.m. Apart from the written exam, we also have to be physically fit so our teachers provide us 2.5 hours of physical training everyday during morning and evening hours.”
Mallesh further said, “The day I crack the SSB interview will be the happiest day of my life and I will dedicate my success to my father as he has always motivated me to become someone in life and help others with my knowledge. I try to create awareness among the villagers and other children my age and encourage them. If I qualify for the interview, I will make sure that I share whatever knowledge I gained during this process with everyone in my village.”
The COVID-19 pandemic also created obstacles for the cadets. “The exam was conducted during the COVID-19 crisis so it was definitely a struggle and we were also in a containment zone. We hired a bus and carried our own food and started for Hyderabad to avoid any spread of virus during the trip. We sanitized the buses and autos we travelled in to reach the examination centres. We took all the necessary safety precautions. We returned the same day from Hyderabad as it was not safe to stay in hotels. The students were very tired after the trip as they did not got any rest that day,” the colonel said.
TSWSS: A one-of-a-kind Sainik school
Col. Reddy told NewsMeter, “There is one Sainik school in every state. Some even have two Sainik schools. United Andhra Pradesh had one in Korukunda but now it has gone to Andhra Pradesh. Telangana is set to get a Sainik school in Warangal.”
He said that the aim of these schools is to train students for the NDA examination and subsequently the SSB. “The social welfare schools in Telangana are performing really well. However, despite several efforts by Dr. Praveen Kumar none of the cadets have been able to make it to the armed forces in the officer cadre so far. So, we decided to start a separate Sainik school for children from marginalised communities,” Col. Reddy said.
He pointed out that it was a unique project in the country - a Sainik school exclusively for students from marginalised communities. “It was the brain child of Dr. Kumar. Its been two years since the Sainiki school opened and we are proud that two cadets from the school could crack the NDA exams. They are now preparing for the SSB interview. This achievement will definitely boost the confidence of other students as well as the staff of our school.”
Around 35 students from the school had appeared for the exams but only two qualified. “A majority of the questions were from the second-year syllabus but classes for the second-year students were suspended due to the pandemic. Otherwise, we had expected more students to qualify the exam. But we are glad that two have qualified and this is just the beginning of the success of our Sainik school,” he added.
Dr. Praveen Kumar, the secretary of the Telangana Social Welfare Residential Educational Institutions Society, said, “The Sainik schools that function under the ministry of Defence do not provide adequate representation to students from marginalised communities. Hence, I came up with the idea to start a Sainik school exclusively dedicated to students from these sections. A social welfare school at Rukmapur was converted into a Sanik school with the approval of the Telangana government which would be at par with Sainik Schools of the ministry of Defence.”
On 10 October, he took to Twitter to congratulate the cadets and tweeted, “Containment to Cantonment: For the first time in our history two kids from our SW Sainik School, Rukmapur cracked NDA exam conducted by UPSC. First battle won. Please wish them the best for SSB (sic).”