Hello friends, I am Ashwin Paranjape. I had a desire to join the Indian Air force since my childhood. My father used to tell me stories about bravery and courage of Indian soldiers. I distinctly remember a story told by my father of Flight Lieutenant Pradeep Apte. I remember an excerpt from his diary, which says,

‘’The work I do is not very easy and nor very safe and if I believe in God, it is not because I am scared of anything on this earth but it is because it hasn’t always been a smooth sailing and there have been some anxious moments though they look so trivial once everything is over. But when one is undergoing them, he realizes that there is some extraordinary Power that gets you through these difficult times and since one knows not what that Power is, all that one can do is to say ‘thank God’. I, for myself, look at Him not for mercy but courage to face the odds.”

This quote always made me wonder about the quality and the training he must have received during his years in National Defence Academy to reach such a level of intellect/understanding at an early age. Stories of our officers and soldiers always inspired me more than ‘TOP GUN’ movie.

I cleared my NDA written examination in my fourth attempt in 2014. I was happy for it and was eager to undergo the SSB interview. In the excitement of clearing written exam, I presumed that SSB isn’t a big hurdle and with this presumption, I didn’t prepare for it sufficiently. As a result of this, I was conference out.  After analyzing my performance I realized where I was lacking. In the psychological test I attempted 30 SRTs, 40 WATs, and wrote unprepared self-description. In the interview I was unable to answer many basic questions. (eg. Where is the Air Force Academy?). I think, these things portrayed my unpreparedness. Since this was my last attempt for NDA, I continued with my engineering.

My academic performance in first three semesters was average. I was focused to join the NDA and didn’t work hard for engineering exams. I think our academic performance also casts an impression on interviewing officer. I improved my academic performance. In my pre final and final year I tried to do activities related to defence. I gave a presentation on aerodynamics in my college. I also chose my final year project topic related to defence itself. This helped me to keep myself motivated.

I cleared CDSE examination in my first attempt. But I was unable to clear AFA Cut off. I got call letter for IMA. Learning from my mistakes in last SSB, I prepared well for this SSB. My uncle who was ex fighter pilot helped me in my preparation. We discussed various current issues. As I am from Marathi medium I was not comfortable in spoken and written English. My uncle made sure that I only speak in English with him. This increased my comfort level in Group discussions.

I went for SSB with sufficient preparation, didn’t left any stone untouched. I got screened in. According to me everything went well. But yet again I was not recommended. I naturally felt disheartened. While coming back from SSB I thought, “They will not reject me without any reason”. So I just have to find out the reason and work on it.’’ I wrote down my entire 5 days SSB experience. I analyzed my performance again and started working towards the areas on which I thought I was lacking. I had decided to give a year after engineering to join the Defence services so I had sufficient time to concentrate on preparation.

I cleared CDS 2 2017 examination and I got a call letter from IAF. I was called at 2 AFSB Mysore. 87 candidates reported and 37 of us got screened in. In Psychological tests I attempted 43 SRT’s and around 55 WAT’s. This time GTO went really well. I was lucky to have a very cooperative group. We completed all PGT’s before time. In the command task GTO changed my task 3-4 times. I was able to give solutions to all. I was fairly satisfied with my GTO performance. My interview was conducted by the president of the board. Majority of it revolved around friends and family related questions.

(Suddenly interviewer asked me)

I/O- Ashwin what if you are permanently unfit for the Airforce or for all the three services?

Me- Sir if not the Airforce, I want another respectable career. I will take 2 years of job experience and will go for masters abroad. I will become economically stable and come back after 5 years to pursue my hobbies and will try to contribute my share towards our nation’s development.

On the day of conference I was feeling confident. Like my previous attempts conference went about a minute. So I became a bit doubtful about my selection. But when the duty officer started to announce chest numbers of the recommended candidates, the happiest moment of my life came. He announced my chest number.

Total 6 of us got recommended out of 37. I had cleared PABT in 2014. So I was exempted from CPSS. Medicals went well and I was declared medically fit for flying. In the final merit list I am AIR-4.

I am aware that there is still a long way to go but definitely it’s a good start.

I also got recommended for Indian coast guard flying branch and declared fit for the same. The Final result of it is yet to be announced.

Now a day’s people are asking me which training institute did you attend?

I attended training at olive greens institute at Chandīgarh and took psychological assessment and interview sessions from commander Natarajan sir. My uncle who is ex-fighter pilot gave me valuable lessons during my preperation.


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