Lt Col Mayur Ambastha (Retd)
It was 1995 when my journey in uniform started as an 18-year-old. My friends were going to Jaipur to write their NDA exam. I took the exams so that I could tag along on the trip. Results came in after a few months, and to my surprise, I qualified and was called for the SSB interview. I scrambled to prepare and attended the interview over five days. I felt my chances were feeble against many better-trained candidates. To my surprise, I cleared the interview as well as the medicals tests. My parents, who were worried about my medical tests due to my low weight, were pleasantly surprised. Backed by family support, I reached NDA in Dec 1995. NDA is the tri-service training institute where cadets of all three services, i.e., the Army, Navy, and Airforce, are trained together for three years before attending specialized training in respective academies.
The highest military training standards were provided to us, which inculcated teamwork, camaraderie, and discipline in all of us. In addition, there were bonds that were forged for life. I joined the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun, after completion of NDA training. I got commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Mechanised Infantry Regiment. I went on to serve in the Army in deserts, plains, high altitude, and counterinsurgency, over 20 years before retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. In 2011, I worked as a UN peacekeeper in South Sudan. It was a war-torn country with stark and abject poverty and a state of humanitarian disaster. I felt a sense of gratitude for the things we take for granted in India. People didn’t have food, were uprooted with hardly any possessions due to strife and violence. There was no guarantee of life, and human life was measured in terms of heads of cattle. I felt thankful for the fact that my nation is so prosperous in resources and culture.
I had not spent much time with the family, and my children were growing up. After 20 years in uniform, I wanted to contribute to my children’s upbringing, which my wife had bravely handled alone till then. I came to Mumbai on posting and started planning my exit. The transition from a soldier to a civilian was a significant cultural change and a fresh beginning at 43 years of age. I underwent an executive MBA from NMIMS. The military experience played a major role in enhancing education. During my MBA, I learned a lot from the faculty as well as my peers. My batchmates were mostly younger than me, with corporate background and experience.
After completion of the 18 month MBA course, I entered the corporate world. When I adopted Human Resources as a career, I realized the subtle difference between HR in the military and corporate. I had rich experience of managing people in the Army from the mere age of 22. The amount of involvement with my team was way more intimate as compared to corporate HR. We, in the Army, needed to know the smallest details of not only the team but their families too. For corporate HR, the involvement is not even 30% of what we used to do, and neither it’s required. Although my current work is a lot less adventurous than the forces’ life, I am comfortable with it and am learning every day. I have gained knowledge with the help of various certifications in HR and affiliated fields, and I strongly feel that the learning process will never stop till my last day. I am happy that as an HR professional, I can make a difference by enhancing happiness.
Every year nearly 90000 servicemen retire and are unable to find jobs at par with their capability in the corporate sector. I wish the corporate hirers trust veterans with jobs in the private sector as you trusted them to serve the country diligently. These are the people who have worked in the most critical conditions protecting the frontiers under challenging circumstances. They are agile, flexible, risk-takers, and go-getters who have worked 24×7 round the year with total disregard to personal convenience. They have never ‘logged off’ because they could not. They perform the best under pressure. In today’s circumstances, when the world is dealing with a typical VUCA scenario in the pandemic, they are the most reliable human resource available.
My service in the Army taught me perseverance. When the Covid pandemic hit the world, everyone went into a state of despair, and we all were locked into our homes with all the normalcy gone. But then it struck me that I had served in places like Line of Control, where the situation was way worse. There were no mobile phones, laptops, or electricity, and we were totally cut off from the outer world. It was all snow and mountains. I once, during the lockdown, asked my wife what she thinks about the dire situation the world was in. She immediately replied, “At least we are together now.” It was a struggle many a time in my career if she wanted to send me even a single line of a message. So, today her threshold of ‘crisis’ is totally different and very high. Such is the change in character a defense person and his family undergo.
Lastly, I believe India is a country of great potential, and if every citizen of the country, no matter where they are, puts their 100% effort into their respective work, we will shine on the world stage. Getting divided based on religion, caste, political views, etc., will not get us far but working for the nation will. I often get great words on social media thanking me for my service and thanking the martyrs for their sacrifice. I have only one response. “Let the sacrifice be worthwhile by making this nation great. That is the single cause these men laid down their lives.”
Army Experience: 20 Years
Total Work Experience: 1.5 Years (Hyosung TNS)