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Martyrs’ wives start new lives as Army officers

Author: V Ayyappan, Surendra Singh, Sandip Dighe
Publication:  The Times of India
Date: September 10, 2017
URL:    http://m.timesofindia.com/india/martyrs-wives-start-new-lives-as-army-officers/amp_articleshow/60444376.cms

After marching to 'Auld Lang Syne' at Chennai's Officers' Training Academy, 332 candidates broke ranks and hugged to celebrate becoming officers of the Indian Army. Among them were Swati Mahadik, wife of Colonel Santosh Mahadik who died fighting terrorists in Kupwara district of Jammu & Kashmir in November 2015, and Nidhi Misra, the widow of a naik who died in 2009. Both were commissioned as lieutenants in the ordnance wing.

After her husband died, Swati would look at his uniform hanging in the wardrobe. "That inspired me to join the Army," she said. "I trained on a par with gentlemen cadets. Everything was the same. So I am waiting for the Army to allow us to take up combat roles," added Swati.

Once she cleared the SSB exam in 2016, the 11-month training involved gruelling tasks in addition to classroom lessons on strategy and military history. The only concession Swati, 38, got as martyr's wife was relaxation in age limit, which is 27. The mother of two — daughter Kartikee, 12, and Swaraj, 6 — will join Pune's Army Ordnance Corps.

The route to OTA was tougher for Nidhi Misra, whose husband, a naik, died of cardiac arrest in 2009. Nidhi, who holds an MBA, worked in an HR firm before teaching in Army school. She was inspired after she read about Priya Semwal, wife of a martyr, joining the Army. Priya passed out of OTA in 2014.
"It took me five attempts to clear the entrance exam," she said. Keeping her resolve was tough during training. "After two months, I thought it would not work out but I stayed on. I thought about my eight-year-old child and my parents who stood behind me when I was trying to take the entrance exam." Nidhi will join the ordnance wing of the armoured division in Jhansi.

Swati and Nidhi have joined the Army a day after the force, under new defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman, gave finishing touches to a plan to induct 800 women in the military police. "If I become a colonel like my husband one day, it would be great. But my immediate focus is to learn new things under the guidance of my superiors," said Swati.
 
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