Prerak Nayar is from the batch of 2009-2014. In this interview, he shares his journey at AIL (albeit short) and on being commissioned into the Army. He was the first student in his batch to represent the college in the GLC, Ernakulam moot in his very first semster. He had also been an active participant at MUNs and International Conferences.
Blue Pencil: How was your journey at AIL?
Prerak Nayar: Army Institute of Law, Mohali, the very mention of it brings so many fond memories and great days well spent with people who have and will continue to mean a lot in life. The three years spent at AIL were a great learning experience. Coming from a fauji background which entails a secure environment with parents always there to look after you and watch your back, hostel life was extremely different.
My fondest memories would definitely include night trips to Fortis and 43 bus stand for those midnight snacking fantasies (which eventually became a routine). We would scale the wall and reach Fortis on foot or wait for TUKTUK and go all the way to 43 with friends (sometimes as many as 7-8 would adjust in one single auto). Or just liaisoning with the sentry and going for out pass over weekends to Kasauli or just to catching the night show of the latest Hollywood thriller at PVR.
I also remember teaching construction workers kids and being with them. It was a great experience and taught me a lot of patience. We also tied up with the army authorities and sent aid to the people of LEH-LADAKH, when they were struck by flash floods somewhere in 2010-2011, and sending those 7 bags full of warm clothes was a great experience.
BP: Right now, the students are very disconnected and the batches are highly isolated. Was it the same during your time in the college?
PN: I believe in one simple philosophy, give respect and get respect. I joined the college in 2009 and I have seen a great set of seniors and juniors. We had our own little fights and brawls at times, but at the end of the day we would sit down on the same dining table and enjoy the meal over good and healthy chitchat. I still address my seniors from college as “sir” or “ma’am”, including those who eventually became my junior in service after joining the armed forces. Remember giving respect does not make you small in the eyes of others; it only increases your stature and shows the values you received from home.
There is a fire theory for this, a senior is like fire, closeness gives one warmth however adequate distance must be maintained so as not to burn oneself. I think that in our college the concept of senior-junior is is something that makes our college really unique.
BP: How did you decide to join the Army? What was the preparation phase like?
PN: To be very honest, the army never really on my mind. I was interested in law and to be frank, was doing quite okay. I was in my 3rd year and like most of the boys (at least of our batch or time in college), I used to play AOE on Wi-Fi. One day I realised that nobody was playing, so I went to the next room to check out what everyone was up to. On reaching there, I saw that 5-6 of my batch mates along with 4-5 of seniors were filing CDS forms online and this was the first time CDS form filling had been shifting online (as compared to the usual paper forms) and that’s how I also filled my form. The exam was on a Sunday, and as there was nothing to lose in appearing for the exam, so 25 of us went from college on our bikes that morning (batch mates, immediate seniors and other seniors). I hadn’t prepared for the exam as such though I was regular with updating myself with the newspaper. However, I do remember that I had cheese patties and mango shake in between the papers (when they give you an hour of break) and I guess that’s the secret trick that worked and I cleared the paper in the first attempt.
BP: How should one ace the SSB?
PN: SSB interview is one of the simplest in the world, and I am absolutely serious about that. The only thing you have to keep in mind is to believe in yourself. Remember that if you want to be an officer, you should behave like one because at the end of the day, all that the interviewers want to see are the OFFICER LIKE QUALITIES ( OLQs). If you’ve acquired them, there is no reason why you won’t make it to the merit list. Confidence also matters a lot. However, unnecessary eagerness should not be there at all. When a person shows that he is desperate to get into the army, chances are he will not make it. But when he is relaxed and confident, he makes it for sure. I cleared my SSB in the first attempt, so I may not have enough SSB experience to give out more gyaan, but I guess it worked for me and so should work for others too. Lastly, enjoy at the SSB centre, roam around, eat good food, go out for movies and remain relaxed.
BP: Any advice to the present students at AIL who aspire to join the Army?
PN: Advice to my friends at AIL is that Army has changed a lot. If you think you will join the kind of army that you have saw and experienced as kids, then I am sorry but it is no longer anything like what you witnessed as kids (from the rear seats of a well-furnished gypsy). It has become highly goal oriented and has got influenced from the corporate world. I’ve spent two years in the army and there have been so many instances to substantiate the difference. So do keep in mind the pros and cons. It’s the best you can get selected, but life in the army is tougher than getting into the army.
BP: In Westeros, joining the Night’s Watch is considered the most honorable thing to do, do you feel the same thing about your years spent in the academy?
PN: Haha, training is one hell of a time. The best days that any officer will remember will either be his training days or in case of a commando qualified officer, his training as well as his commando days. The training regime is such that they keep you busy from morning till night and the question of being with opposite sex (read ladies) is eliminated altogether.