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‘I am living up to the credo: Soaring high is my nature’

A visit to an air station during a family vacation in Shillong had Zubin Jain mesmerised. Today, the Apeejay School, Pitampura student is set to join the Indian Air Force after acing the NDA exam with flying colours



He hails from a family of doctors. But Apeejay School, Pitampura student Zubin Jain, from the batch of 2020-21, had set his sights on the skies. Jain, who grew up listening to the Apeejay theme song ‘Soaring High is My Nature’ and feeling inspired every time he heard it, is now set to join the Indian Air Force. By securing an All India Rank of 176 out of 517 candidates in the National Defence Academy exam, he is indeed soaring high and living up to his credo. In an exclusive interview, Jain, the son of gynaecologist, Dr Sanjana Jain, recalls how he kept himself motivated to clear the exam in the second attempt, his motivations and how joining the Air Force and serving the nation inspires him. Edited excerpts:  

Congratulations, Zubin! Please tell us about your life journey so far.

I live in Delhi and attended Apeejay School, Pitampura for my entire schooling career. I first heard about the National Defence Academy exam conducted by the Union Public Service Commission when I was in class 10. I took the exam for the first time around the first term of class 12. After my class 12 I was about to pursue B.Tech from the Vellore Institute of Technology but I’ve left it to join the National Defence Academy. After having cleared the exam in the second attempt, I will now join the National Defence Academy.

How did you become interested in a career in the Air Force in the first place?
Once I heard about the National Defence Academy exam when I was in class 10, I dug up more information about it through books and the internet. I learnt about the Indian Armed Forces and was fascinated by their culture. At that point of time I realised this is where my interest lies.

Why have you chosen to join the Air Force and prioritised it over the Navy or the Army?
I have gone in for the Indian Air Force because as you know the motto of Apeejay schools is ‘Soaring high is my nature.’ Throughout my schooling life I have grown up liking this motto and feeling inspired. I decided to go for the Indian Air Force, because this is something that every child in the country aspires to be. I have always been patriotic and wanted to serve the country and now, thanks to the Almighty I have got an opportunity to realise my dream and live up to the credo of ‘Soaring High.’

How did your school help you in your pursuit?

When I took the NDA exam for the first time, I realised that all the general knowledge and general ability that I had learnt in my schooling years had helped me a lot. I would like to thank all of my Maths teachers at Apeejay School, Pitampura. Because of them I had very clear concepts and I was able to easily clear the Maths section of the exam. The interview was the tricky part. The selection chances were quite slim. They could select a handful of candidates. In my first attempt, only 7 out of the 200 people who appeared for the interview were selected.   After some encouragement from my teachers and my principal, I gave the NDA exam a second shot and got selected this time.

How did the faculty at Apeejay Pitampura help you achieve your dream?

I would like to thank all my teachers along with my principal, Ms Veena Goel. They encouraged me a lot during my first as well as the second attempt. There were times when I went to my Social Science teacher to clear doubts about the general ability test and general knowledge questions. Even my Mathematics teacher helped me a lot by clearing my concepts. Actually, for the interview part, the house activities organised by the school were really helpful. They helped enhance my coordinating activities and active intelligence. I was very active in sports during school: I played badminton, football and basketball.

How did you keep your morale up after failing the first time?

Once you visit an Air Force base or an Army base you are gripped with an amazing feeling of patriotism: you feel that one must aspire to be an officer in the armed forces and be part of the workforce. I saw the Eastern Air Command in Guwahati when I visited Shillong along with my family on a holiday in 2020. That was a very big moment for me. After seeing such a huge area, with different sorts of planes in it, I was mesmerised. I regained my motivation and felt that I must continue to make another attempt to join the armed forces. My family has been very helpful and also they have been really patient with me. After I didn’t clear the exam in the first attempt, my mother maintained that I must take another shot at the NDA exam. My family, especially my mother, have been my greatest supporters. When my result was declared my mother was really happy. She wanted one of the family members to go for something like the Civil Services.

How did you ensure that you came out on top the second time round?

This time I wanted to give a better performance. I had worked hard last time as well but my preparations were not up to the mark. So, this time I gave it more time and with my preparations and hard work the pieces of the puzzle fell into place I was able to clear this. The written exam is for six hours and the interview is for five days. My exam this time was in Guwahati. I went alone, I took a flight from the T3 terminal in Delhi and landed in Guwahati all alone. I even explored the city and then I went to the Staff Selection Board and things fell in place this time.

Currently I will undergo training at the NDA academy Khadakwasla near Pune for the next three years. For one year, I would either visit the Air Force Academy or I will visit the Naval Academy in Ezhimala, Kerala.

Aasheesh Sharma is a seasoned journalist with an experience of more than 25 years spread over newspapers, news agencies, magazines and television. He has worked in leadership positions in media groups such as Hindustan Times, India Today, Times of India, NDTV, UNI and IANS. He is a published author and his essay on the longest train journey in India was included in an anthology of writings on the railways, brought out by Rupa Publications. As the Editor of Apeejay Newsroom, he is responsible for coverage of the latest news and developments in the Apeejay institutions. He can be reached at [email protected]. He tweets @Aasheesh74