Over 5 lakh students appeared in the NDA exam for entry to the armed forces this year. Of these, two in the top 10 — including All-India Rank (AIR) 1 Nangal’s Shashank Sharma and Muktsar’s Armaandeep Singh, AIR 8, trained for the exam at the same institute in the city. With 25 selections of 41 students who appeared (the exam was held in September), the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Armed Forces Preparatory Institute (AFPI), in Sector-77, a Punjab government institute set up in 2011, has been a consistent success. Twelve of the institute’s students are in top 100 of the NDA exam this year.
Students at the AFPI do their Classes 11 and 12 from Shemrock Senior Secondary School, Sector 69, SAS Nagar.
Final call letter for joining the academy is issued subject to medical fitness of the applicant, an official said.
‘Discovery channel programme triggered desire’
Both Shashank and Armaandeep want to join Armoured Corps in the army. “An episode on Discovery Channel in 2014, featuring the NDA motivated me to join the forces,” said Shashank, son of a BSNL employee. Prior to joining the AFPI, he was a student of Mount Carmel School, Jindwari, Ropar.
The first in a family of civilians to harbour dreams of a military career, he said, “At the AFPI, we rigorously followed the programme that the director Maj General BS Grewal (retd) chalked out. What also helped was that we did not have our mobile phone.”
“There was no distraction of WhatsApp and Facebook. I studied for five hours a day,” he adds.
Shashank’s father Dinesh Kumar Sharma belongs to Manakpur village in Nangal. His mother is a teacher.
‘Relatives inspired me’
Armaandeep, the son of a farmer from Muktsar, said, “I was hopeful of a good position but never thought, I will get be ranked 8th,” he said. “A relative in the family who rose to the rank of a brigadier inspired me to join the NDA,” he added.
He credits the strict regime and the discipline instilled at the institute as key reasons for his success.
52 applicants vie for each seat at the institute
The first batch of cadets passed out in April 2013. So far, five batches have passed out from the institute and 63 students have joined various military academies.
Admission to the institute starts in January every year with an entrance test for boys from across the state. The exam is conducted at Jalandhar, Patiala and SAS Nagar and those in Class 10 can apply.
The batch starts in April. The institute’s intake capacity is 48 seats, with 2,500 students apply for admission. So, 52 apply for each seat.