Updated: December 11, 2021 7:35:38 am
“It’s okay to be mediocre.”
That is what Group Captain Varun Singh — the lone survivor of the IAF chopper crash that killed Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat, his wife and 11 armed forces personnel in Tamil Nadu’s Coonoor on Wednesday — had had conveyed to the students of his school in a letter to its principal in September this year.
The officer at present is battling for life at a military hospital in Bangalore.
In his September letter, the officer had shared his thoughts on his own life, which could help and inspire children, especially those who feel they are “meant to be mediocre in this hyper competitive world”. Officer Singh, in his letter, says that he was an average student who barely scored 1st division in Class XII and was equally average in sports as well as co-curricular. yet, he managed to fly high, by staying focussed on his passion for airplanes and aviation.
“As I went to the NDA, I passed out as an OC (Officer Cadet) and did not excel either in studies or sport to make the cut to be an appointment in NDA,” the letter reads. But it was after he reached the AFA, that he started to realize that his passion for aviation gave him an edge over his peers. But he still lacked confidence in his abilities. “I lacked confidence as I always thought I was meant to be average and there was no point trying to excel,” he says.
Soon after, as he was commissioned as a young Flight Lieutenant in a Fighter Squadron, he realized he could do well if he put his mind and heart to it. “I started working to be the best I could be, as opposed to making sure I achieve the ‘pass’ standard,” he continues.
Things took a turn in his life when he resolved to do each task to the best of his abilities, whether flying or otherwise. He even volunteered for the prestigious and rigorous experimental test pilot course, which has a 4 stage selection and only 7 of 59 pilots make it through. He was posted to a Tejas aircraft Squadron even though he had crossed the seniority bracket to qualify for change of aircraft.
In the year 2020, that the officer was faced with a critical situation when his aircraft malfunctioned. Even though the SoP required him to eject and abandon the aircraft, he decided to take a few calculated risks and managed to land the aircraft without any damage to either the craft or civilians. On August 15 this year, Group Captain Varun Singh was awarded the Shaurya Chakra by the President of India for his heroic feat of landing a crippled aircraft in 2020.
The officer, wishing his story to be read to children at schools to motivate them, says, “It is ok to be mediocre. Not everyone will excel at school and not everyone will be able to score in 90s. If you do, it is an amazing achievement and must be applauded. But even if you don’t, do not think you are meant to be mediocre. You may be mediocre in school but it is by no means a measure of things to come in life. Find your calling, it could be art, music, graphic, literature et al. Whatever you work towards, be dedicated, do your best, never go to bed thinking I could have put in more effort.”
“Do not think that Class XII board marks decide what you are capable of achieving in life. Believe in yourself, work towards it,” the officer signs off .
“The letter must be read by all the children. His gratitude towards the teachers who mentored him at the time is clear from the letter. It says all the right things. Children must follow what their heart says. Their marks rarely matter,” said ex- Captain Suman Singh, principal of APS Chandimandir.
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