When he was in class IX of Ramanbaug School in Pune, Krishnant Gholap attended the school’s annual day function. In the next three-quarters of an hour, he now recalls, his attitude towards life changed.
“Our school had invited someone from the army to talk to us. The officer spoke so movingly about being part of the armed forces that I never forgot that day,” Gholap recollects.
Those 45 minutes left such a deep impression in young Gholap’s mind that he started dreaming of becoming an army officer. He knew pursuing this dream wouldn’t be easy, but he thought it would be the finest way of doing his poor parents proud.
Now, 22-year-old Gholap is a cadet in the Indian Army, and is set to join the Indian Military Academy in Dehradun as part of his final training to become an officer.
When he was growing up, the combined income of both his parents came roughly to around Rs 6,000 a month. But Gholap worked hard in school, and managed to get into the Simhagad Engineering College close to Pune. He sustained his studies through donations and merit-cum-means scholarships. “Engineering needed annual fees of Rs 55,000. In four years, the family would have had to come up with around Rs 3 lakh (other expenses included). We could not afford that much money, despite the donations,” Gholap explains.
His younger sister Rohini was also interested in engineering. “Not only did I want to join the army, but also help my sister get her degree. The costs were too much. I thought if I could get into the army, our monthly expense would come down,” he says.
Gholap wrote the entrance test for the National Defence Academy (NDA) also to fulfil his father’s dream. Chandrakant,too, wanted to join the army when he was a youngster. But Chandrakant’s father died early, his own education stopped at class IX, and he had to drive autorickshaws to earn a living.
Krishnant Gholap failed in his first attempt at NDA by a large margin. “My general knowledge and grasp of English was not good enough. So I went back to work,” he says. He got through in his second attempt.
He says in our society people respect money. “Even in my locality, people perceive my family a little differently now. My parents are treated with more respect.”
When he finishes in Dehradun, Gholap will start as a lieutenant. So what has NDA taught him? His timbre moves up a notch. “Confidence. Self-belief. Pride. These are the greatest attributes NDA has instilled in me.”
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