I feel fortunate that I can protect the pride and honour of my country: Afrid Afroz

Story by  Tripti Nath | Posted by  Aasha Khosa | Date 14-06-2023
Afrid Afroz with his parents and brother at the NDA, Khadkwasla
Afrid Afroz with his parents and brother at the NDA, Khadkwasla


Tripti Nath/New Delhi 

Afrid Afroz who earned the NDA best cadet award and President’s Gold medal two weeks back is all set to fly high. At the threshold of a promising career in the Indian Air Force, Afrid cannot wait to fulfill his long-cherished dream of becoming a fighter pilot. 

Afrid is proud to be an Indian. He says, “The greatest service a man can give to his country is to safeguard its borders by laying down his life. I feel very special and fortunate that I will be able to protect the pride and honour of my country by joining the armed forces.’’ 

Although he has taken seven sorties in a Super Dimona, an Austrian aircraft in the sixth term of NDA like his other batch mates, he found it exciting but not thrilling. “It is a powered glider and does not have too much speed. I want to fly a fighter aircraft.’’ 

Afrid Afroz at NDA, Khadakwasla

He is eagerly awaiting the start of year-long training on June 23 at the Air Force Academy in Hyderabad. 

Not only is Afrid the first person in his family to join the Indian Air Force, he modestly admits that he happens to be the only Rimcollian, graduate from the 187th course of Rashtriya Indian Military College, Dehradun, to have made it to the IAF. But Afrid does not think that this is extraordinary as none of his RIMC batch mates opted for the Indian Air Force.

Afrid considers himself lucky to have cleared the medical test for IAF at the first go. 

“Medical screening for the Indian Air Force is very tough. This includes seven to ten odd X-rays of the body. You must have perfect eyesight. You cannot be colour blind. There is a dental check-up. You must have a certain number of heart pulses. You cannot have knock knees. Air Force cadets cannot have a sitting height that is longer than a certain length otherwise they cannot fit inside a cockpit. One must meet this entire criteria,’’ explains Afrid. 

Of the 365 cadets who passed out of NDA’s 144th course on May 30 this year, 116 made it to the Indian Air Force. 

Afrid Afroz with the Chief of Defence Staff, General Anil Chauhan

The announcement for the best cadet award was made on May 26 by the Commandant on the dinner night. As soon as Afrid came to know that he had got this award, he rang up his sister Saima as she was the one who encouraged him to join RIMC.

Afrid says, “The President’s gold medal was awarded by the Chief of Defence Staff, General Anil Chauhan. Three medals are distributed in the final Passing Out Parade, according to the overall order of merit. This order of merit includes all the events and activities carried out in three years. These include Physical Training, Drills, and Equitation/horse riding which are called outdoor training activities. In NDA, we have lots of drill. Then, we have games where importance is given to cross-country race of 14 kilometers.’’ 

Asked why he was selected for the President's Gold Medal, Afrid says, “I was good in academics. Like other Air Force and Naval cadets, I completed my B.Tech at NDA. We are given final cumulative grading. I got 7.5 out of nine. I was among the five top cadets. I was second in PT. Then, there are tests for proficiency. The first level is the merit card. After that, it is half blue, then blue, then the blazer in PT, equitation, and all other scores. So, I was half blue in P.T. and half blue in equitation. One is required to fulfill certain criteria for all four levels.”

Afrid made it to the RIMC in Dehradun in July 2015 where only one cadet is selected per State or Union Territory. An aspiring candidate has to crack three examinations and an interview to get admission.

Likewise, getting admission to NDA in October 2020 also meant clearing a national-level test and an interview. Afrid says that he joined the Echo Squadron in NDA where cross country was the tradition. " The blue and maroon family took me into its fold at the end of the later half of my second term at NDA. This Echo family encouraged me to pursue my interest in horse riding and P.T. I finally passed out as the Battalion cadet Captain No. 2 Batallion- half blue in P.T., half blue in riding and Polo, the best all-round Air Force cadet  and got the Presidential Gold Medal for standing first in Overall Order of Merit.''

Son of Dr Mohd, Habib, a Professor of Comparative Religion, Afrid always enjoyed a good academic environment at home. He was born on the campus of Punjabi University, Patiala in Punjab his father was teaching from 1998 to 2022. 

He is the youngest of four siblings- three brothers and a sister. His eldest brother, Inaan is an Electronics Engineer and the other brother, Amaan is in the IT industry. 

The Chief of Defence Staff, General Anil Chauhan congratulating parents of Afrid Afroz after the passing out parade at NDA

Asked if he was good at sports in school, Afrid says he was good at mischief and was harmlessly naughty. "I was interested in all subjects of Science.''

Speaking about the environment in NDA and RIMC, the young cadet says,“ When you talk about defence and institutions related to defence, the environment is across religious boundaries. There is no segregation based on religious communities, economic classes, or backgrounds. When you are in defense, you are one. People don’t form their groups based on religions, communities, or sects. When you wear the uniform, you are all the same. The uniform is to establish uniformity. We represent our institutions. When I was in RIMC for five years, I was in the Shivaji section and I had the best friends in my section. They were from different States- Chhattisgarh, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh. It was like a mini-India. We shared the closest bond throughout our days in RIMC. We continue to be friends even after passing out in 2020. When we talk even after many days; we pick up from where we left last.’’ 

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Afrid studied from nursery to Class VII in St. Mary's School in Patiala. He finished Class VII in Amy Public School, Patiala and then studied at RIMC from  Class VIII to Class XII. 

Afrid who is now a role model for many cadets, acknowledges that his years in RIMC played a pivotal role in preparing him for a career in the armed forces. " The teachers and the seniors play a crucial role in bringing out the best in a cadet. The routine of RIMC is is also very favourable for the growth of a student. They teach us to never give up. All these officer-like qualities of perseverance, honesty, integrity, diligence and owning up your mistakes, are nurtured there.''

Afrid who will turn 21 next month, says he is very grateful to his parents for supporting him and having faith in him.

Afrid likes reading self-help books and also likes to maintain a diary- a habit that goes back to his school days.

His advice to Air Force aspirants is, " Life is full of ups and downs. There are good days and bad days. In order to move ahead in life, we must not cling to memories of bad days. Instead, we must be motivated by memories of good days and continue working towards our goals.''