As many as 22 students from the current batch of 48 at Maharaja Ranjit Singh Armed Forces Preparatory Institute (AFPI) here are set to join the National Defence Academy (NDA) when the next three-year course begins on July 1.
They have passed the written exam conducted by the UPSC, interview by SSB, and also cleared the medical examination, says Brig (retd) K D Singh, a member of the three-man team managing the institute, which was set up by the state government to reverse the declining trend of youths from Punjab joining the Army.
This is the second batch of students from AFPI which is headed by Maj Gen (retd) B S Grewal, who is a former deputy commandant of NDA. From the first batch, seven students were selected last year.
The institute, spread over 8.5 acres of land, is located in Sector 77, Mohali. It admitted the first batch of 48 students in April 2011, but now there are plans to increase the intake. The state government has also approved setting up of a similar institute for girls for which eight acre land has already been earmarked in Mohali.
The institute admits students, exclusively from Punjab, in class XI after conducting a selection test in December in English and Maths. The top 100 students on the merit list are invited for interviews to gauge their aptitude for the armed forces. Of them, 60 are shortlisted for medical examination at the Command Hospital, Chandimandir. The final 48 are taken in to groom them for the NDA.
The selected students study at Shemrock Public School in Sector 66, which is a private school affiliated with the CBSE. They have to pay an annual fee of Rs 34,000 to the school where they study for two years. AFPI does not charge any fee. Rather, this year the state government had decided to give Rs 1 lakh to each selected student.
For the students, the day starts at 5 am with PT and drill parades. After school, in the afternoon, the students are put through a regimen of physical and mental training in order to prepare them for their SSB interview and subsequent military training at NDA. Regular discussions and debates are conducted to improve communication skills. Eminent personalities, including retired and serving military officers, are invited for motivational talks.
The AFPI is equipped with the latest training facilities, classrooms having computers and projection systems, a swimming pool, well laid-out playgrounds, facilities for equestrian, an indoor simulated firing range, an amphitheater and two conference halls called ‘Paramvir’ and ‘Mahavir’ where the walls are adorned with the photos and valour stories of gallantry award winners.
Brig (retd) K D Singh says that the children of military officers form just about 2 to 3 per cent of the students whereas those of JCOs and Other Ranks contribute 25 per cent. “Two to three students fail to cope with the training and drop out every year,’’ he adds.