Ocean’s Best

In late 1986, Indian Navy commenced screening candidates for a new and innovative scheme for inducting officers. With an offbeat tag of 10+2 (Executive) Scheme, it opened up a parallel channel to the National Defence Academy (NDA) exclusively for the navy. Selected officer cadets were to be trained for three years (parallel to the 78th NDA course) at Naval Academy, Goa to lead navy into the new millennium. A degree in sciences, ‘BSc (Special)’ from Goa University would be awarded on successful completion of training.

By about this time, Indian economy had buried itself into a hole. Peer & family pressure to become an engineer or doctor, the holy grail of success, was high. Entrepreneurship, a term almost absent from our lexicon those days, was in the death grip of licence-permit raj. Into this arena, Navy had thrown the gauntlet which was picked up by some audacious teenagers who cut loose from the rat race and headed for Services Selection Boards (SSB) in the autumn of 1986. In a rare departure from convention, the standard UPSC examination was given a go-by and Class XII & SSB performance was used for drawing up the final merit list of 80 candidates. Not surprisingly, the First Course of 10+2 (X) went on to display brilliance of the order seldom seen in mainstream navy.

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The humble Cadets Accommodation Block – Eklavya

By the summer of ’87, idyllic NAVAC nestled atop Verem hill at Goa was full to the gunwales with these mavericks. Arriving with their wavy hair and in some cases, guitar, beach wear & accessories, these eighty cadets posed a challenge for every instructor, whether on the drill square, sports field or classrooms. A quick visit to the academy barber ‘cut them down to size’, but these boys were quick to find their sea legs and get with it. They assumed leadership positions in the academy immediately on joining – a polite way of saying they were seniors from Day 1 and nobody could rag them! This added oodles of panache to their personality that many carry with aplomb to this day. Being ‘second to none’ also fortified their devil-may-care attitude that would have bordered on arrogance if it wasn’t spliced with such rich faculties.

The training curriculum was specially tailored with a fair dollop of ‘service subjects’ right from Term I. An eclectic mix of naval orientation, physics and mathematics formed the core syllabus to which was added a subtle flavour of Humanities. The minimalistic infrastructure of INS Mandovi, which was home to NAVAC then, was tested to limits by the ‘sporting’ genius of this batch which lost no opportunity to break through every gap, be it in training programme or perimeter security. The pristine Goan beaches of Anjuna, Baga and Vagator which were just an easy-ride away offered adventures that the Academy could not, cadets often returning three sheets to the wind.

By the time these intrepid pioneers crossed the quarter deck of NAVAC in 1990, Navy had a flavour of what lay across the far shore. Wherever they went, achievements of officers from the First Course of 10+2(X) remained unbreached for years to come. It was a rare combination, a unique constellation of superstars – all vying for their rightful place under the White Ensign. Over the years, pyramidal hierarchy of naval service evened out some rough edges. Few moved on to take up challenges of corporate life, some went into ‘start-up’ mode, while selected officers are ascending to higher orbits even as others continue to render yeoman service. Three brave souls passed on in the line of duty.

In the final calculation, Navy will always win – and rightly so. As they complete 25 years of receiving President’s Commission, exciting times lie ahead. From this course will emerge future leaders, admirals, thinkers, CEOs, statesmen and above all – people with that rare chutzpah to break convention. Always there before anyone else, the First Course of 10+2(X) are truly ‘Ocean’s Best’.

I am proud to be counted among them.

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A bunch of happy cadets on their well deserved ‘liberty’ after an arduous Sunday cross-country run!

Ocean’s Best:

AD Theophilus, Ajay Gupta, Ajay Kapoor, Amit Sud, Amitabh Puri, Anish Sahai (RIP), Arjun Dev Nair, Ashok Malik, Atul Maini, B Girish, B Gurumurthy, BS Chhabra, Deepak Verma,  DJ Revar, George Alexander, Gerard Mohanraj, GS Oberoi, Harinder Singh, Hemant Padbidri, Himanshu Agarwal, Jitendra Dixit, Janak Bevli, K Uday Prakash, K Venkatraman, KP Sanjeev Kumar, Manav Handa, Maneesh Agarwal, Manish Bhandari, Manu Mohan,     MK Agarwal, MN Sharan, Mustafa Dhoondia, N Raveeswaran, N Venkateshwaran, Naveen Mehta, Navin Shukla, Neelam Shukla, Nirbhay Bapna, Pankaj Kaushik, Paresh Sawhney, Partha Dutta Roy, Praveen Nair, Purushottam Verma, R Ravikumar, Raghvendra Chaturvedi, Rajiv Ashok, Rajiv Sharma, Raman Arora, Ravi Sivasankar, Rizwan Ali Shah, RK Nagar, RK Saini, Roby Thomas, S Ramkumar, S Shyamsundar, Sandeep Singh Sandhu, Sanjay Nargas, Sanjay Sachdeva, Sanjeev Dutta (RIP), Sanjeev Gupta, Shailesh Dhaka, Shashi Kumar, SS Venkat, Sujoy Ganguli, Sumit Bhatnagar, Sumit Ghosh, Sumit Gupta,   SK Roy, Sunil Thomas, Swapan Shri Gupta, TSS Prakash (RIP), TV Sunil, Uday Thapar, Upal Kundu, VC Mehra, Vinay Khattar, Vineet Anand, Viresh Das, Vivek Sharma, VK Choudhari

Postscript: The new Indian Naval Academy at Ezhimala, Kerala is Asia’s largest naval academy, spread over 2400 acres. Follow http://ina.gov.in/ for more details.

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90 thoughts on “Ocean’s Best

  1. Me and my wife Nirmala are proud of these first batch cadets as one among them is our son Praveen Nair now a Captain .We know many of his batch mates and used to meet them very often.Wish all of them a bright future.Jai Indian Navy.

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  2. Pisha as always a lovely piece. Takes one back down the memory lane. Thank you for penning your thoughts… Make it more frequent as is always a pleasure to read your ‘musings’.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reminds me of the good old days
    Wish could rewind time and once again became cadet Handa
    Thanks kp
    You really are multi talented

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  4. Salute to the pioneers, who set such inspiring benchmarks, spirited inspired ignited souls…. May ur flock reach greater glories… Aff’ly, Amit Srivastava

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  5. KPS very well written. It’s a proud privilege to be part of first 10+2(x).Thanks for taking us down the memory lane. Those were the best days of our youth.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Eloquent prose as usual KP! You have that gift which can really put feelings to words. Really reminiscened reading the blog. Am proud to be a part of the group. Keep on the blogging and we will relive through your prose ! BZ! 🍻

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  7. Eloquent prose as usual KP! You have that gift which can really put feelings to words. Really reminiscened reading the blog. Am proud to be a part of the group. Keep on blogging and we will continue to share your thoughts ! BZ !

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    1. TV, immensely thankful to you for your unsparing efforts to bring together all of us for the silver jubilee GTG. Only a person with your patience and fortitude could have done this! See you in Goa soon!

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  8. Great to read your blog, KPS Sir. We heard a lot about the legends of 40 NAC during our time at the academy five years down the line. Have been fortunate to serve with some of them over the years. You continue to inspire us

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  9. KP.Well written article with details mentioned brings back the old memories. You are one of those gifted writers who must take this as profession. Must say again an excellent article.

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    1. Many thanks naveen! As one among the eighty, you are remembered as one of the kindest souls, professional to a fault and the ‘Rock of Gibraltar’ in ethics & morals. Here’s to many more!

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  10. Good to see Thomas sir, Ganguli sir, SK Roy sir, Sanjay kumar sir, Kundu sir etc in their youth. Wonderful article sir. All the best to the course on their Golden Jubilee

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  11. Whatever said seems little about this course. Sir we followed soon in the Naval Academy and grew up listening to anecdotes from their adventure in Academy as well as in Service thereafter. Timid they were not, madcap they were not, but they inspired us, abetted us and inspirit us all the way during our Naval career. An extremely diverse competent and trendsetting course who pushed the boundaries of achievement further as they progressed. They are real Hummers.

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  12. An enchanting piece..…extremely well written KP. You have the gift bro. Keep on writing and we all will stand by you. Feels good to go down the memory lane after so many years. Proud to be part of the first 10+2 (X) course.

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    1. Thanks so much Paresh – our very own Tom Cruise and golfer extraordinaire! With such illustrious and capable coursemates like you, its entirely my pleasure to recount our adventures! Happy 25th buddy!

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  13. KP.
    A really lovely bit of prose there. Seems like another talent there in addition to physics, math and a bit of humanities that they put into u.
    Wishing you guys a Super Silver and on to.the Gold.
    All the very best always

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  14. Wonderful writeup KPS. Enjoyed reading every bit of it. Not only your writing is class, your memory is also very good. I take this opportunity to wish all your first batch officers all sucess and happiness in life. Keep writing. God Bless!!

    Warm regards
    Ramesh

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    1. Haha! Don’t make me blush you wicked man!! Riz – the man with midas touch, Greek God looks & zatopec’s stamina…who wouldn’t want to be in your arms;-))

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  15. A pleasure to read your lucid thoughts expressed in your inimitable way!!! It has been and continues to be a pleasure to interact with the first 10+2 batch. All of you, in every which way a unique “Specimen”!!!! Cheers on a very special 25 sir!!!

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  16. KayPee, the perfect gymnast during physical training demonstrations and who went onto become the gentleman and professional test pilot. Am sure ‘HATSOFF’ wont ever be enough !! Lovely read. Proud to be with all and BZ for taking the effort to name everyone. Look forward to ‘riot’ at the 25th.

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    1. Thanks Amit…our ‘Admin’, guide & philosopher! An aerospace professional and Seaking pilot par excellence, I am indeed honoured to receive accolades from you! See you on the other side #Goa!!

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  17. Hi KPS..after going through each write up of yours, just one word comes to my mind… “Incredible”.. How beautifully you pen down your thoughts..so vivid and lively..brings a smile on the face as one reads through..its an honour for us to have you in this prestigious course.. You have won accolades immensely for being a prolific writer.Our best wishes will always be with you ..looking forward for more interesting anecdotes …

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    1. Wow blossom! I am humbled by your effusive praise! It’s an ‘incredible’ course that we all are part of and with such a galaxy of superstars, inspiration comes naturally! Hope to never fail your expectations and thanks a million for the graceful words! Keep writing in…your words are magic too!

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  18. Dear KP..a very well written piece that immediately takes the mind down the memory lane 28 years back..i have always known you and remember you as an extrememy hard-working,sincere and focused person,whether it be pushing your very extra bit in the sunday X country or countless pushups ordered by DTO in the middle of the night or even ensuring your best performance in academics .I have also experienced and gained from your positive energy during Aviation training at AFA and Bidar which has improved and bettered my skills as an Aviator.I know and am sure that your present company feels very lucky and blessed having such a fine guy as you working for them..Glod bless you,Good Health and keep smiling always..Harry

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    1. Harry, i am humbled by your eloquent praise. Suffice it to say, our course would not have been half as enjoyable without you. You are also a superstar in your own way – the pioneer in civil aviation when we were still running around with wet noses! Keep the flag flying high. See you in May @Goa!

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  19. KPS, Way back when we served together in 2000, in Dega I could never fathom what a multi talented guy u were. A lot of time has swept past since then and u continue to fox people around with your characteristic zeal to do everything to near perfection( including your new look in this company)Everything changes with time but memories remain same and u have penned them down beautifully. Many congratulations on your silver jubilee.

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    1. Dear sir, may it be known that this youngster owes it to you in abundant measure for whatever shape my life has delightfully taken. As my senior and Flight Commander, you deserve a king’s slice of our happiness as we celebrate 25th of ‘Ocean’s Best’ and also 19 yrs of my life with Madhuri (we married during my time with you at 321 Dega!). Thanks again for everything!!

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  20. Kps as usual a very articulate piece of history, worded ever so beautifully. Boy you sure did take us down the memory lane. Always proud to be a part of this first batch of supremely talented bunch of sea farers! Keep up the writing buddy, you do have a precious gift.

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    1. Venky!! The undisputed favourite of ‘Ocean’s Best’, how delightful to have you in our course and our lives!! You are the master storyteller everybody including the ladies and children are waiting to hear all the crazy Navac escapades from! See you & sujana soon! Thanks very much for the kind words!

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  21. KP sir at your eloquent best. We the successors of 40 NAC have always held you all in high esteem, the perfect role model to emulate and best. Best wishes for your reunion, may nostalgia drip from all corners as u all get back together in Goa. Cheers Vivek Dahiya

    PS – are the Div “O” invited too?

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    1. Hey Vivek…so nice to hear from you! Thanks a lot for the warm wishes..will convey to the group. Indeed, you guys are every bit the worthy successors and the baton is safely on its eternal relay! In a lighter vein, DOs have elected to keep a safe distance from the explosive get together;) best wishes!

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  22. KPS Sir ,

    Wonderful piece of work. It was great and nostalgic reading.

    Those who followed in the footsteps of the ‘Ocean’s Best’ had much to live up to. The 40 NAC legend ruled the academy to the extent that cadets who followed 3 years later were expected to know your names – in full form and nothing less. Many impositions were written with the expanded version of your name too, by your squadron types and understudies who seldom knew what you even looked like 🙂 !! How we wished then that you had a short name with a single word !!

    Those were great days 🙂

    Have a great and memorable reunion.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Satish, that was another lovely piece of nostalgia that you brought up! Unfortunately, like one cannot select one’s parents, the name also comes by default and being a fellow Mallu, it must have been a lot easier for you as compared to some others from ‘northern latitudes’;-) Keep rocking!

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  23. Love your promptness KPS….its truly commendable. It really takes an effort to acknowledge everyone individually.. Specially when one has such an endless list of admirers.Thanks so much for all ur sweet words..trying my level best to follow your footsteps ..in the hope to find success one fine day.

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    1. Haha blossom! Like they say – ladies first!! You always get priority and even with all the qualities of 10+2(X), ladies remain the wind beneath our sails! Thanks for the lovely words..we all learn in our own ways!

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  24. Sir I for sure have had the unique honor to share cockpit space with Rizwan sir whilst I was trying to learn hovering on a ch. with Ravi sivasankar sir whilst I was a newbie in the business of flying the alh and with you sir, indeed a rare opportunity came fwd In the form of a acceptance profile at blr ..I think getting thrice lucky is seldom a reality but for in this case…I therefore salute the gentleman in you and rever the legendary tester that kapius stuff is made of..once again and as always hope and pray that you continue to reach unscalable highs….regards

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Many thanks rohit – very lavish praise that I can only hope to live up to! Riz, Ravi and all of us who shared air & cockpit space with Gen Next like you have very fond memories of our days together. Keep taking the ALH to greater glory! Best wishes to all at Goa & Kochi.

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  25. Dear Sir, You were the first course of that lovely place and I belong to the last course.. We tried to follow your legacy, God speed to first NAVAC course. A very touchy blog..
    78 Ninja

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    1. A big thanks on behalf of our whole course, Mukesh. Very happy to see that you have taken the moniker of 78 Ninja – we are mighty proud of our coursemates from 78th NDA with whom we merged on the training ships to become 40 ICC, another ‘perfect storm!’ Best wishes to all ninjas!

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  26. Dear KPS, little did I know of this talent of your, all has been said about the entire course in few lines, it appears there is a lot more to learn about the Oceans Best. I have always known you as ‘The Best’ when it came to physicals in academy, now I see that you remain ‘The Best’ when it comes to using the Intellectual stuff as well. Keep writing, we all are reading….

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    1. Thank you dear! As one of the eighty you surely add vital ‘neelam’ to the course’s picture I have sought to paint. The hard power of physicals is, alas, long gone – That’s why I have sought refuge in the soft power of words, haha!! Happy 25th, dear Neil, onward to the gold!! Cheers!

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  27. Hi KPS.As always a very nice and articulate write up .I do not know most of your course mates but the names that I know in the list are all heroes in their own fields.Wish you all a great future ahead .All the best for the Silver .Keep writing KPS

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    1. Thanks a million sir! Your comments and good wishes always brighten up my blog page! It’s not for you to remember us, we are the lucky ones to have shared time in the navy with illustrious gentlemen like you! Thanks again for the blessings… We will not let you down!

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  28. Superlative writing KPS – a very eloquent blog. You do have the talent in making the reader live the blog. Am sure your entire course must be remencieng with thrill and pleasure after reading it. Wish your course a splendid silver and a glorious future. Keep writing ….

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    1. Thanks a ton for the kind words sir! It was an ambitious effort to capture the essence of 80 guys & 25 yrs…I am glad it meets your approval! From all of us – a big thank you for the good wishes!!

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  29. Thankyou KPS for the lovely article. Having had the privilege of doing the complete Sub’s courses with your coursemates, I always felt part of you all. I feel very lucky and happy to have made some lovely friends. Your whole course is outstanding and the best Officers’ and gentlemen, I would have ever seen. God bless you all n your families.Best wishes

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    1. Thanks a million sir! We have very fond memories of our association with aviators like you which started with Sub’s Courses but endured for decades. It is to your credit that some of us (me included) got motivated to choose aviation! Thanks for sharing those memories and a big thank you on behalf of all my colleagues!

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