Gaurav Tavhare, son of a fruit merchant at Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) in Vashi is all set to take a step closer to realising his dream, joining the Indian army.
Gaurav, who is based in Panvel, has just passed his Combined Defence Services Exam (CDSE) and has stood 74th out of 136 candidates across India. He is now headed for the Indian Military Academy (IMA) in Dehradun where he will undergo a gruelling 1.5 year course before being commissioned into the army.
The course is a test of physical fitness and mental strength, where students are stretched to the limit, absolute breaking point in both aspects, because like they say, only the test of fire makes fine steel.
Gaurav did his primary school at the Awasari Budrul in Pune in the Marathi medium. He then got admission in Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya (JNV), Pune, which is a project by the Govt. of India, to provide quality education to students from rural backgrounds. (see box above: About JNV) Subsequently, the boy with rural roots got a sheen of urbane, urban polish at Mumbai’s Elphinstone College where he did his BSc in Physics.
Carry on Tavhares: Gaurav with his father Prakash Tavhare at the fruit market at APMC, Vashi
Gaurav who believes in striking a balance extracurricular activities and studies shifted to Panvel (E) from Pune. "My family had moved to Panvel, because of my father’s occupation and my brothers’ education." Through the hills and valleys, burning the midnight oil, adjusting to big city life after a rural childhood, there was only one flame burning bright in Gaurav and that was an ambition to join the Indian army. "It was right there from childhood," says Gaurav when asked to explain when he decided he wanted to be in the army. He elaborates, "In fact, there were two phases. In my childhood, when I had seen my uncle Vijay Thorat (retired as Junior Warrant Officer, JWO) from Service I first felt some stirring of pride and ambition. I thought to myself: These prestigious services, were they from me? Then, while in school and later through higher education, I started realising that my country really needs me, and, that I can make a difference. The feeling of ‘paying back’, I think was inculcated in my final days in Navdaya Vidyalaya, where I completed my class XII. So I think it was perfect combination of ‘need plus wish’ which inspired me to join the armed forces."
Pulwama: Army personnel recover arms and ammunition from a militants hideout during a search operation against militants at Yarwan forest in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district. Pics/PTI
Gaurav still has a connection to the army. He says, "three of my cousins from my village are serving in the army as sepoys." Gaurav credits his family with giving me unstinting and unconditional support. "They are very happy to see me getting closer to what I have always dreamt of."
Gaurav has a 100 year-old grandmother and two brothers. He doffs a hat to his entire family but has special words for older brother Abhinandan and cousin sisters Prerana and Prajakta who kept "motivating me in hard times." Family support is one thing but even friends, who are sometimes astonished at the Forces as a career choice, especially with somebody from Mumbai where commerce and monetary success is often everything, are giving the thumbs up to Gaurav’s career choice.
Says Gaurav, "nearly all my friends knew about my aim to join the Defence services. I am getting good, motivational responses from friends and they are proud of me." Perhaps the best for Gaurav is the fact that some of his friends have started preparing for the exams, motivated by him. He smiles as he says, "I am happy to see the positive change in them."
Latehar: A security person during an encounter with Naxals in Latehar (Jharkhand) recently
Sterling thoughts and burning ambition is all very well, but in the forces, death is a very real prospect, a bullet or a landmine away. It is not just conventional war but Naxalism, the J & K separatist movement, in which soldiers are losing their lives. What are Gaurav’s thought about them making the ultimate sacrifice? Sometimes, these also go unheralded and unsung by people in big cities, not deliberately but because in cities the Defence Services really seem remote to so many people.
Gaurav though says that, "People have that hidden awareness about nationalism and brotherhood, but it is just that their feelings need a little push to find full expression. I genuinely think that this picture will change once youth actually start joining the police, forces and other programs of national interest."
Of the shadow of death, Gaurav says, "A soldier has different definitions of living and dying, I think. Losing valuable lives is a serious issue of course, but serving the nation in its purest form has its own pride, and our brave soldiers have been proving that time and again."
In the end, Gaurav says, it is about what you feel inside of you. "I believe that, if I become an officer in the army it is not just me, who holds responsibility. In fact my family, my neighbourhood, every person in touch with me shares the responsibility, in some form or the other, consciously or subconsciously they become more responsible towards the country. This gives me a different sense of satisfaction well above that one gets in private jobs."
An intangible sense of satisfaction but for Gaurav, a very real one nevertheless. As he helps his father stack fruit at APMC, the IMA beckons. Dehradun is designed to break the hardiest but, Gaurav hopes, and his teachers who know his strength believe, it is simply a matter of time before the country snaps a salute to Lt. Gaurav Tavhare.
Gaurav has honesty, sincerity, determination, and a passion to join the Army,” says Lt. Col (Retd). P Brahmankar of Apex Careers about Gaurav’s decision to join the army. Brahmankar adds, “He now goes to the Indian Military Academy (IMA) in Dehradun where he will undergo 1.5 years of gruelling training. This training is a mix of physical fitness and theory. The theory is about military tactics, military history. Given Gaurav’s dedication and focus, I have no doubt he will complete his training and be commissioned at a Lieutenant, upon finishing. While the course is extremely demanding physically, in the end, it is mental strength that counts. Gaurav though is very strong, mentally, too.”