For 2021 Republic Day exclusive interview, I was slated to meet the Group Commander of NCC Group Headquarters, Rajkot. I waited in the porch of his office anticipating the familiar arrival of a red beacon staff car of the senior military officer and a hoard of Army men ready to Salute and receive their boss.
It was Ten o’clock in the morning and, I could sense a cyclist speeding towards me as if he was para-dropping with the force of an entire Parachute Brigade of the Indian Army. For this Rajkotian, it was indeed an unbelievable sight. One had never expected to meet a Brigadier Rank officer of Indian Army’s elite Para Special forces cycling on the winding streets of our own colourful city of Rajkot.
As he came nearer, one could read the name tab of the officer’s highly decorated olive green uniform having shiny badges and ribbons; it read ‘S N Tiwari.’
The senior officer from Special Forces Regiment of the Indian Army is Brigadier S N Tiwari, the Group Commander of Rajkot NCC Group HQ. He tells me that a nature lover he is, he prefers to cycle his way to his office rather than ride his staff car decorated with a Brigadier’s pennant and Star Plate.
Brigadier Tiwari is responsible for the training of NCC cadets in entire Saurashtra region. The officers and men under his command impart training to approximately 13,000 cadets from 73 colleges and 113 schools under its Army, Navy and Air Force NCC units. He was commissioned into Sixth Battalion of Parachute Regiment, which he commanded and is an Airborne and Heliborne Warfare Expert.
The Brigadier hails from a very small and remote village of Keshkal in Bastar District, Chhattisgarh. He tells me that formerly, he had been an NCC Air Wing Cadet of Sainik School, Rewa where he was a keen Cross-Country Runner and an excellent Hockey player. The staff at Group HQ has tremendous amount of admiration for the Senior Officer as an upright, proficient, competent and humane person. It is his humble village background has kept the officer close to the men under his command.
The Brigadier feels that the NCC’s job is not only to prepare the young blood to become the country’s second line of defence, in case the need arises but also to train the Indian Youth to become better human beings, citizen soldiers for the rest of their lives. He has been an instructor at Elite Commando Wing, Belgaum and wishes to reign in the same spirit of brotherhood and nationalism besides physical fitness and mental toughness into his NCC cadets.
NCC Group Head Quarters, Rajkot
Rajkot Group HQ looks after the entire Saurashtra region. The region has eight units of NCC that include; 4 Mixed Units, 2 Girls Units, 1 Naval Unit NCC and 1 Air Unit NCC.
Top Class equipment and Systems
The NCC has in its ranks, Virus training aircraft, Enterprise class sailing boats, rowing stimulator and rowing boats. Besides the NCC’s military training regime that includes physical fitness, parade skills, Arms training etc., the cadets are given exposure to basic aviation courses also provided with Service Selection board training.
Adventure Camps and Training
Parachuting and paragliding training is provided to selected cadets at Agra. The cadets are also given exposure to various adventure activities that includes; Little Rann of Kutchh expedition, Para Jumping, Whaler Sailing, Boat Pulling and White water rafting.
Republic Day Camp
Drill is considered as bedrock of discipline. Republic day parade is the test of a cadet’s endurance and his parading skills. Participation in the annual Republic Day Parade is considered as a very honorable feat for any NCC cadet. Therefore, Republic Day camp training is given to the selected cadets who are very good with their drill.
‘Ek Bharat Sheshth Bharat Camp’
‘Ek Bharat Sheshth Bharat Camp’ is a yearly NCC camp, where NCC cadets of two or three states get together for the camp. This enables the cadets to learn and respect the culture and other aspects of the fellow cadets who have come from other states and different cultural background. This promotes unity and diversity amongst the Cadets besides reduces the gender gap as boys and girls are trained together and given the same challenges and tasks.
Lt. Dharavi an associate officer of the NCC is a national gold medal winner in shooting. She is training six NCC cadets in sports shooting. The NCC has imported the best air rifles from Germany for them.
In Combined Defence Services examination, a total of 32 seats are set aside for cadets who hold NCC C certificate provided they have scored 50% in graduation with a minimum of B grade in C level examination. If all this suffices, then they are eligible for appearing in SSB interview for Short Service Commission, even without appearing for CDS written exam.
SSC special entry scheme normally has 100 vacancies reserved for the NCC cadets. NCC training focuses on to become the main feeding ground for the officer cadets for the three services.
For cadets identified for military specific approach, the officers provide them with focused training on SSB. Previous year, Rajkot NCC Group HQ’s 18 cadets joined defence services also 04 cadets cleared the Service Selection Board and were selected as officers.
A Path Breaking Initiative
Brigadier Tiwari took over the Command of Rajkot Group HQs in the month of September 2020 and has since brought in some really positive additions and the training curriculum has also been revamped for better.
For the first time in India, Rajkot Group HQ will test all its cadets to assess their abilities, career leanings and skills through:
2. Aptitude testing
3. Psychometric testing.
Under the initiative, Saurashtra University’s psychology department has designed an exclusive testing capsule for the Cadets of NCC. This is going to be a huge project that would definitely require support from the corporate through their CSR funds.
Based on the result of these tests, the cadets will be given career counseling. The young cadets of Saurashtra will be given special focus to enable them to improve their written and oral communication skills in Hindi as well as English as the latter has been found to be a bit of weakness in the youth of this region. The youth will be encouraged to prepare for various entrance exams for the armed forces that includes; CDS, AFCAT and AVNAT. Every year, five top cadets will be identified for special SSB training.
“We are trying to make them into self-reliant, committed citizens of this country who could contribute positively toward nation building. We are in this quest to not only training and create soldiers but to give Saurashtra her citizen soldiers whose character grit and determination would make the entire country take notice and feel proud”. Brigadier Tiwari concludes with remarks.
(Interviewer is a Veteran of Indian Navy)