A farmer's son from Manipur, 21-year-old Yumnam Romen Singh is the first cadet from the Northeast to win the President's Gold Medal and to have the honour of commanding the Passing Out Parade.
Singh, who hails from a remote village in Manipur called Lamgmeidong, proudly declared that he was the first person to become a commissioned officer in the armed forces from within a periphery of ten kilometres around his native place.
"My father inspired and motivated me to join the Armed Forces. He is a farmer, but he always wanted me to be in the Armed Forces. He sent me to Sainik School in Imphal
and got the application form for the NDA," he said.
The eldest among three brothers, Singh, who is an evidence of the changing profile of the NDA cadets from urban to rural and from high-income to low-income
-- said he has now become an inspiration for his siblings as also other youth from his village to join the Armed Forces.
Singh, who has opted for the Indian Air Force (IAF), also expressed the hope that his becoming a commissioned officer would remove the prejudices that people of his region have about the Armed Forces
Earlier, addressing the cadets, Antony exhorted them to be abreast with the technological developments in keeping with the changing requirements.
"Not only must you be soldiers today but scientists and technicians as well," he said, noting that exposure to IT and basic engineering is crucial in today's age of globalisation where all activities, civilian or military, are profoundly influenced by developments in science and technology.
Antony also said science is not everything and told them their major challenge would be to strike a harmonious balance between tackling the requirements of the battlefield of the future without losing sight of the need for humane management.
"The Armed Forces, to which you are the newest entrants, have a long and honourable history of service with dedication and commitment to our nation and society. We in Government are aware of the tough conditions of service and other problems and have taken several measures to bring about improvements including new accommodation facilities and liberalised leave rules," Antony said.
"Let me assure you that we are firmly committed to this process and I am sure that you will find that the quality of life you all will enjoy is materially better than that which your seniors experienced during their cadet days," he added.