Once a winner always a winner. The saying holds true for Lt Karan Kothari, Midshipman Nikhil Prabhune and Flying Officer Varun Aggarwal, who not only bagged honours at their alma mater National Defence Academy, but also at the finishing academies of their respective forces. Lt Karan Kothari, an alumnus of the 119th course at the National Defence Academy was awarded the sword of honour at the Indian Military Academy’s autumn term passing passing out parade which took place on December 9, 2011. The prestigious Sword of Honour is presented to the Gentlemen Cadet standing the overall best among the passing out course. Son of a Gujarati businessman, Karan Kothari, was awarded the prestigious president’s gold medal, for standing first in the overall order of merit (academics and sports) during his passing our parade at the NDA.
A first generation officer from a Gujarati family left his father’s flourishing business of manufacturing spectacles to don the olive green. “I have broken the tradition in my family of joining the family business. Gujaratis are inclined towards business but someone had to make a beginning,” said the ‘golden’ boy from Rajkot. Youngest in the brood of four siblings, it was sheer adventure and sense of patriotism that catapulted Kothari towards life in olive green. “Since childhood I was fascinated by the life led by the armymen,” said Kothari who after opting for infantry got commissioned into 5/11 Gorkha Rifles.
On his enviable success at both the academies, Kothari says that it was sheer hard work and dedication. “My parents have fully supported me in every walk of life. They only expect me to rise and shine above the rest,” he said. About both the Academies, the lieutenant says the two have taught him different things. “While the NDA groomed us to be fit for army life, the professional aspects of the olive green were drilled into us at the IMA.”
Presently undergoing orientation training at the Aurangabad based Services Preparatory Institute, Kothari said that life in the unit is very different from what was taught in the academy. “Learning in classroom and working on ground is in stark contrast. The more one gets involved in the unit activities the more he learns,” said Kothari, all set for his tenure at the glacier.
Pune boy, midshipman Nikhil Prabhune, from 120th course at the NDA, topped the ‘sea cadet training’ course at the first training squadron of the Indian Navy at Kochi beating back 140 midshipmen. Nikhil, was also awarded the President’s gold medal in the NDA passing out parade of May 31, 2011, for being adjudged the best all-round cadet.
Nikhil, hailing from Lohegaon area of the city says that the naval course taught him the key subjects of navigation and seamanship. “We sailed extensively and it was an excellent opportunity to connect theory with practice. We had to study on board the ship and it is nice feeling to top the course,” said the young Naval officer. Nikhil would be proceeding for his midshipman training in Mumbai.
Adding feather to its alma mater is another alumnus of the NDA, Flying Officer Varun Aggarwal, who was awarded the President’s plaque and chief of air staff ‘sword of honour’ for standing first in overall order of merit in the pilot’s course at the Air Force Academy in Dindigul on December 29, 2011.
From the 118th course of the NDA Aggarwal feels that his hard work has paid off. A Rimcollian, Aggarwal feels that while NDA makes a man out of a boy, it’s the finishing academies that instill the professional learning in the officers.
A transport pilot, Aggarwal is also a first generation officer. “My father is a businessman from Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh. As for support, my family has always been by my side. It is with their blessings that I have achieved what I had dreamt of,” added Aggarwal.