Namaste, I am Kashish Bakshi, and this is a story of my journey to the IMA. It started with the dream of a kid in class 5, who wanted to be a fighter pilot, having no defence background whatsoever. A kid who had seen fighter jets fly over his head since he was an infant. As my maternal grandmother’s house is in Ambala and the AFS Ambala is nearby, so there were 8-9 fighter jets flying over us daily, sounding as if the Gods were wrestling in the sky. As I grew up, my love for the IAF grew deeper, but there was a turning point, when I was in class 9, as I live in Dehradun, the home of the IMA, Indian Army started drawing my attention.
As an adolescent teenager in school, when someone used to ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I answered “The finest fighter pilot there is”, but unfortunately, that adolescent boy didn’t have a plan of action, as to how he would achieve this feat. It was later when I realised it, when I failed to qualify the NDA written exam 3 times consecutively. But the flair to join the forces was still alive, and after 2 and a half years of B.Tech(CS) degree, I started preparing for CDSE. I found out the syllabus and realised it was vast for GS, so I knew I needed a sound strategy to crack the exam.
I watched the strategy to study by a CDSE topper, note making strategy from a UPSC CSE topper, and started preparing for AFCAT also which is a little easier than CDSE. There I was, in my 5th semester, with my SGPA dangling in 7 pointers. So I had to prepare for CDSE, AFCAT, get good marks to qualify placement criteria of campus placements, and study for job interviews. And the lockdown was a blessing in disguise, I managed my time accordingly and smashed every goal. I cracked CDSE and AFCAT in my first attempt, got SGPA above 9, got job offer letters from 2 companies. I was preparing for SSB side by side, during my written prep. My friend gave me his SSBCrack book for SSB. I also used to watch the current affairs videos by SSBCrack on YouTube. Everybody in my SSB coaching believed that I would make it in my first attempt, but I was conference out from 1 AFSB Dehradun(AFCAT) on 26th March, it was later that I realised that I was too obsessed with getting recommended.
Now I had my SSB at Allahabad on 14th April (CDSE) and this time, I decided to go with a free mind as I had 3 more attempts lined up (SSB for CDSE 1 2021, SSB for TGC-133, AFSB for AFCAT 1 2021) and 2 job offers. I thought “Hua to bohot achi baat hai aur agar nahi hua to agli baar aur improve kar lunga”. This thought process was the only thing that I changed in the 2 weeks’ gap between the attempts, and I made it this time. My friends and my juniors at my coaching ask me what did I change in myself magically in these 2 weeks and this is what I tell them, I just went with a free mind. I also got medically fit and now I’m waiting for my final semester exams and then joining the Academy.
So this was my story, an average boy from a civilian background, whose focus was always clear and who was willing to work hard to achieve his dream and finally got recommended from 14 SSB Allahabad. So, if you are determined, and consistent with your efforts, and have the right strategy, I personally guarantee that you will achieve your dream. KEEP HUSTLING and NEVER EVER GIVE UP!