Ramdas Shenoyy gets to meet a multi-dimensional personality Capt. Brijesh Chowta and his insights on building India as a super power.
How and when did you decide to be an army man?
The dream of sporting the olive green was a childhood one – like for most Indians. But at that time, it is just that – a dream. But it takes shape only when you involve yourself in such activities. My tryst with the uniform began with my joining the NCC in high school, through high school, and attending the Republic Day Parade in 2000.
From there it seems like a natural path for the foundation has been laid – Be it the discipline, the uniform or the basic values that get entrenched in an individual, the NCC one for the army.
My interactions with many serving officers helped me chart the way forward. After graduation, I wrote the Combined Defence Services Examination exam and then trained at the Officer’s Training Academy Chennai and passed out in 2004 September.
And Field Marshall Sam Manekshaw is one of the key reasons I chose the Gorkha regiment – an intense desire to serve in the same regiment as him.
Your journey from Army to MBA to a politician..what made you take the paradigm leap?( In India army and politics are seen as poles apart..one noble another seen as a corrupt domain)
Leaving the army and your paltan is not an easy decision. But when I joined the army itself I was clear that I wanted to serve in the SSC and then explore other things in life.
And to be honest, politics is the next best platform for those who wish to be a part of building the nation and guarding it from all that can bring it down.
And a management degree helps you put your practical learnings in perspective. It helps you sort your experiences into lessons and learnings so you can help it to sketch out a map that can help others chart their own path.
It is not a paradigm leap unless you wish to be someone different from who you were in your army days. For those who see it as a way of serving the nation in a different avatar- it is a natural progression.
The army actually prepares you for all those battles and strengthens you from within to change what you don’t like in the system by being a part of the system.
It is a matter of responsibility and hence for me, personally it was and still is a more hands-on and challenging role to want to lead the nation like we do our boys in the army.
And no system is corrupt or non-corrupt, it is the individuals. So if it has to change, that too should be spearheaded by individuals.
Also, ‘once a soldier, always a soldier’ – so for me it is just a different posting, a different uniform and a different terrain. But the task is the same – to do what is best for my nation and its people.
What were your learnings in life from Army?
Patience and perseverance mainly.
And that the simplest things are the most difficult ones but also the most important ones in life – for instance staying put in a place – it is the simplest but most difficult too. Like, our faujis serving the glaciers for instance, they simply have to stay put.
Your advice to young aspirants on joining army?
It will be the best decision of your life. It was for me and all my fellow faujis too have vouched that there is nothing that can match the joy and pride of donning the uniform. But do it not for the pride, the prestige or the glamour but to genuinely want to do something for the nation as well as yourself. For you are the nation, not just a part of it.
What does it take to be a good politician.? How can one insulate oneself from the evil side of politics?
The same as it takes to be a good sportsman, or a good soldier or even a good human being – the ability to see what is most needed and to do what it takes to make it happen.
Compassion and dispassion, two qualities that are key to a soldier are also what helps one be a strong politician or rather a leader.
You do not have to insulate yourself from the perceived ‘evil side’ of politics. There is no special evil side that is exclusive to politics. That evil rests in all of us – whether we let it rule us or not, is a choice we have to make.
What is your vision for young India?
That it forever continues to honestly aspire – to be more than what it is, to know more than what it does and to do more than what it thinks it can.
For aspirations are the fuel for a nation like ours – a work in progress. Aspirations are what will drive us to break all barriers and grow.
And aspirations leave no room for pettiness – be it of people or politics.
Inspiration, aspiration, perspiration – if these three magic ingredients drive young India, there is nothing stopping us from being a superpower in the world.