Sunday, 17 June 2018

My experiences  
Life along the Line of Control Part I: Fire and Fury

It was famously described as the most dangerous place in the world by former US President Bill Clinton. A ceasefire pact is supposed to be in place along this 740-km frontier, but the situation on the ground is quite different. Some operational details have been withheld to maintain anonymity.

The Line of Control follows runs through mostly mountainous terrain, following natural features where it can. All that is good on a map, but on the ground it’s a living line over and around slivers of land—a ridge, a spur, a valley, a stream bed—where sudden death is a constant possibility.
Indian and Pakistani troops face each other from crude but hardened sandbagged bunkers; somewhere they have the advantage of a superior firing position, and in other places it is us. On the whole, it balances out. 
Among the kind of battles fought on the LoC is what we men in Olive Green call a fire assault. A fire assault means bringing great firepower to bear for a pre-ordained span of time on a particular target to attain dominance. This story is about one such operation.
I commanded a company somewhere in the northern part of the LoC in the late 90s. A company of any infantry battalion of the Indian Army usually has a hundred-odd fighting men divided into sub units. The usual rank of a company commander is Major.
My company was in charge of a handful of bunkers at an average elevation of 10,000 feet. Opposite, about 800 to 1000 yards away and slightly higher than us were Pakistani bunkers and its adjacent supply dump, a situation that allowed them to shoot down on us, including a devastating cone of fire from company level weapons.
This would not do, so we devised a plan to launch a fire assault on the Pakistani position which we believed held up to a sizable number of troops. To cause maximum damage a 75 mm heavy gun, an old faithful, was the weapon of choice. Using this Gun for such operations was unique concept and never done before in high altitude terrain. For such requirement, this gun can be broken down into parts and re-assembled quickly. The shell it fires is of large calibre and causes great damage—it can easily blow up an ordinary house with a few well-placed shots. Besides, we had High Explosive (HE) shells.
The heavy gun was broken down by a couple of engineering technicians commandeered specifically for this operation. Special mules that the Indian army uses for exactly this kind of work were not used to maintain surprise. We got the non-combatants from our rear administrative location—cooks, laundrymen and assorted others—to carry the pieces of the gun during dark hours to a ridge at 13,000 feet that looked down on the Pakistani position.
Big gun assembled, HE ammo stacked, we waited for dusk because that’s when there was a lull in the Pakistani fire and because it would be difficult for them to pinpoint us and retaliate.
 We pointed the gun straight at the Pakistani bunkers rather than using the conventional mode of firing the shells in a lobbing arc, making it like a giant pistol rather than the light artillery piece it is meant to be.
Fire! I ordered, and the shells began to smash into the Pakistani bunkers. We fired 30-odd big rounds into them in a matter of minutes. That group of bunker took a lot of punishment; a dead silence reigned after through the night.
The silence lasted two weeks; the Pakistanis didn’t fire at us. Our fire assault had worked: devastating firepower had cowed them down into a temporary peace.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016


Before starting my coaching at SSMENTORS, I have been screened out four times and once conference out. The reason I was unable to succeed due to my lack of confidence, inability to express my thoughts and ideas during the conduct of SSB. I knew about this problem but I had no idea how to overcome this problem. For this I was refered to Col Kataria institute. Initially, I thought that what help will I get, I had almost all knowledge but confidence was the issue. But after attending the classes at SSMENTORS, I realized that my confidence level was improving, was able to express my ideas in better manner. Here I got exactly what I needed to know for selection process and I was attended to each and every doubts of mine. Personal attention to every student was the best part of coaching. We were given adequate practice of all tests and tasks in actual conditions. Each and every day spent here played a part in getting me recommended. For this I would like to thank Col Kataria for the help and attention in the entire process which finally brought me success. 
Screening or Stage one testing is the first step towards achieving your aim but 60% candidates do not make it to next stage. All candidates are familiar with this because everyone has to face this. If we obtain the feedback on screening test, we will get very vague answers from candidates as none of them is sure how he got through or failed. If we analyze the trend invariably you will find majority of candidates do not pay attention towards preparation for screening test and in the end, they blame the group as he was not given opportunity to speak during the discussion. If we analyze the stage one testing, it can be divided in four stages-
               Verbal and Non-Verbal test Individual Level
               Picture Perception Test - individual Level
               Story Narration Individual Level
               Group Discussion - Individual Performance in a Group

On analyzing these stages,these are inter related and lead to clearing your screening part where as candidate think only group discussion is important because he is judged by assessors accordingly he gives more weightage to this part which is not the case. During group discussion test, assessors are not aware of your performance in IQ test and clearing screening test is a combination of IQ as well as performance in Group Discussion. For ease of understanding, I will elaborate these stages so that you can handle these stages effectively .

Verbal and Non-verbal Test
This test is conducted to calculate your IQ level in numerical form which is important not only for your screening but plays important role in stage two testing as well. Most of the questions are basic in nature. First step identify the types of questions you will come across, thereafter, practice to identify your problem area. After identifying your problem area you must overcome your problem so that you score best IQ rating . Secondly speed is the key issue practice as many test consisting 40 to 50 questions to improve your speed. Generally you get half the time of total no. questions. Lastly there is no negative marking. Scoring good rating will have good impact on interview and psych test performance.

Picture perception Test
This test can be prepared along with TAT the stage two test as there is no difference in story writing between screen and stage two except the initial part wherein you have to describe theme and no. of characters.

Naration of Story
Once you complete your picture perception you must read what you have written and when you go out must practice for narration part so that you do not miss out any thing important and confidence is the key issue while narrating it and make eye contact with group members.

Group Discussion

After narrating your story, you must pay due attention to others stories and identify the few good ones. During discussion you have to give ideas towards achievement of group aim, appreciate others view rather appreciate your own story. Speak sense and if get a chance narrate group common story. Dress up properly.

1. SSB is a unique test; one cannot compare with your previous experiences. That is why candidate remain unsure about it - how to crack, how to face, how to prepare so on. Most of these questions create numerous conflicts in the mind of candidates until they go through the entire process of SSB. Facing SSB is nothing but its all about how you manage your perception, state of mind and focus.

   a. What is perception management Perception means when you look    at an object or stimulus you see two sides of it - positive or negative or another possibility deny it. When you reverse your actual perception means distortion of perception.  That is why most of the candidates commit mistake in their approach in handling SSB process. Remember perceive as shown to you, whether negative or positive and never ever deny it. It is a myth that you always have to think or write positive.

   b. State of mind SSB is all about expressing your intellectual level whenever you are required to do so or given a chance. Leader always think, apply his mind and lead from front. Go with relax mind so that brain can function at its best. There is nothing in SSB, which you cannot handle. Its all about applying your self at the right time and place.

   c. Focus Regular preparation and focused approach would make you   confident. Improve your listening skills, as during SSB you have to listen then act as per instructions whether it is interview, GTO or psych testing.

2. As per my experience, how does most of the candidates approach or perceive SSB.    They;-
  •     Treat SSB like university or school examination.
  •     Have fear of unknown in spite of having numerous feedback.
  •     Perceiving stress in the environment, this leads to low-level performance.
  •    Candidate displays inconsistent behavior during the course of SSB, which he manifests from highly stressful to over confident state of mind during the  course of SSB, both of these will take him nowhere. What matters is balance and consistent performance.
  •     Take ideas from non- assessor, rejected or selected candidates or from books available in the market, which create lot of confusion in mind.

3. Managing your perception, state of mind and focus will help in doing well in SSB. What do you do;-

   a. Always clarify your doubts from expert so that your perception is not confused.
   b. Always perceive as shown to you and do not distort your perception whether it is TAT, WAT or GTO Tasks.
   c. There is nothing in SSB that you cannot do then why have fear of unknown.
   d. Learn to express 15 officers like qualities through various tasks.
   e. Handle one task at a time. Do not start thinking of next tasks when first one is going on.
   f. Each test and task carry equal weightage so keep on performing to achieve positive result.
   g. Do not give up even if you have not done well in one technique or task.
   h. Concentrate on your personal performance in relation with your group.

4. How to  approach  Manage your perception Go with relax state of mind focused approach good listening skills -  You have all qualities in you , express them at right time and right place Remember your selection is based on demonstrated performance , if you have it in you, learn to demonstrate it. I am sure you will make it.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Verbal expression and physical fitness are the most important officer like qualities as perceived by most of the candidates because they understand only these qualities. If we go through the 15 officer like qualities, verbal expression is part of power of expression, which includes written as well as verbal and same is the case with physical stamina and mental stamina they both are part of stamina. Considering all this, both these qualities are five percent of total no. qualities. This is the case it means all 15 officers like qualities are equally important and out of which some of them least trainable and some are highly trainable which can be improved by training yourself. Both verbal expression and physical fitness comes in the category of highly trainable. I would like to share certain inputs about these two qualities             Verbal Expression
  •        It is a mean of communicating your ideas and thoughts.
  •        It is not a reason of rejection or selection as all qualities are equally important.
  •     When you become an officer, you would be using both English and Hindi as main language in imparting training and as an officer you would be interacting with all kinds of people including foreign national.
  •      Selection is based on demonstrated performance shown during each task and technique. In some of the tasks, you have to speak or act or write and everywhere it is expression, which helps you in demonstrating right qualities at the right place and right task. Therefore, if you are unable to express your self then how are you going to demonstrate your qualities?
  •      Its highly trainable why not train your self. Take the example of our illiterate people when they go abroad within few months they start speaking their local language.
Physical Fitness

  •     Physical fitness is a coordination of mind and limbs, which helps you in Performing your tasks.
  •     It is highly trainable and effort of few days will make you perform effectively.
  •     Tasks and obstacles are designed for untrained candidates irrespective of age and sex.
  •      Physical fitness will make you confident in handling group tasks, obstacle course and snake race.
  •      It is not important how many obstacles you do but what matters how you behave while doing.
  •      You do not require six packs for SSB little effort prior is good enough to face SSB.

My suggestion to all aspirants is that if you feel expression is the only thing why not train your self and over come this problem. It is a matter of few days, there is a thin line between you expressing well or not. We have so many facilities available in the market to train your self. Same with physical fitness, normal jogging in the morning and exercise 15 days prior to SSB is more than sufficient. Do not go with a confuse state of mind overcome your weaknesses.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

         MY EXPERIENCE AT SSMENTORS By Lt Arcot Sai Dikshith

Hi all, I am Arcot Sai Dikshith from Hyderabad. The journey just began with the recommendation for the prestigious organization in the entire nation. Do you have it you. Yes, I have it in me.

I am an engineering graduate and during my school/college days participated in N.C.C and basketball at national level. Since my childhood days my aim was to join Armed forces. Tried the first attempt of getting into Armed forces with N.D.A but could not clear the written exam. On completion of my engineering, I started preparing for SSB and joined Cavaliers Academy in New Delhi but I was conference out. Then I did the introspection of my performance but could not make out the grey areas. Thereafter appeared in another SSB, gave the second interview at Varanasi and cleared my Pilot Aptitude Battery Test but again I was conference out. At Varanasi Air Force SSB. I came across a candidate who got recommended for ground duties after getting conference out for 3 times and got recommended in 4th attempt. Later the same candidate was recommended after 15 days from other board. As per him, this I could achieve because of excellent coaching imparted by Col Kataria, SSMENTORS. 

He suggested me to go to SSMENTORS for coaching, but due to my official commitments, I could not go and went for SSB at Bangalore. This time I did lot of hard work and performed well but again I was conference out. After few days, I received another call up letter and this time I finally decided to go to Col Kataria, academy SSMENTORS . Every day at SSMENTORS, I have got major to minor inputs about SSB that could clarify my concepts and doubts about selection process. I was able to figure out where I stand as regard to my strong/weak points and preparation. I would like to share that the way Col Kataria conducts his sessions, its amazing, firstly his batch strength has maximum of 10-12 candidates so that he can have one to one interaction with candidates as each candidate has different problem, secondly he does not force his views on you but refine your own capabilities in all techniques and lastly he conducts short and to the point session which put your preparation on right track and even after coaching you can remain in touch with him through mob or email or personally. With the knowledge I gained here and maintained continuous touch with him till the last day of SSB that helped me a lot and I finally got recommended from Bangalore the same place where I got conference out earlier.

My suggestion to all defense aspirants is that one can achieve his dream only through effective planning, sheer practice, hard work and proper guidance/coaching. I recommend one must take coaching because a "TEACHER PLAYS A VITAL AND IMPORTANT ROLE IN STUDENTS SUCCESS". All the achievements in my life have gurus. If I look back I think of my school teacher, basketball coach and SSB success- Colonel Kataria sir. My sincere thanks to all my teachers. All the best to all SSB aspirants, the success you get after failures will be sweeter than the one you get at first shot. The more the failures sweeter the success.