The Inaugural Workshop

Inaugural Workshop for students on Career Opportunities in Defence Services.




The inaugural workshop of the MAJOR AKSHAY GIRISH MEMORIAL TRUST was held on 8 July 2018 at the Seminar Hall of the St. Joseph’s Institute of Management. This full day workshop was to motivate and introduce students to career opportunities available for them in the Defence Services. The aim was also to familiarize them to the criteria and the process to make a career in this field.  This was a free workshop aimed at students from classes 10, 11 and 12 as well as those pursuing an undergraduate degree.


  1. Introduction to Major Akshay Girish Memorial Trust (Wg. Cdr Girish Kumar)
  2. Interaction with Young Officers from Different Army, Navy and Air Force (Maj Pankaj Pathak, Lt Cdr. Akshay Raja, Sqn Ldr Abhinav Rao)
  3. The Military as a long-term Career Option: Career openings, eligibility, facilities, benefits, etc. (Gp. Capt. Ashwani Bhakoo VSM)
  4. Short Service Commission: Opportunities in Service and after completion of service (Girish Nair: Founder and CEO, Pace Global HR)
  5. Preparing for UPSC Entrance Examinations for Defence Services (Cavaliar Academy)
  6. SSB Interviews: The practical part of entrance test (Col Anshul Trivedi)
  7. India’s Real Heroes: Col DPK Pillay; Maj Sandeep Unnikrishnan; followed by Interaction with Col DPK Pillay (Vikas Manhas, Adrija Sen from DESH)
  8. Major Akshay Girish as friend and role model (Flt. Lt. Aditya Raj Gupta) followed by a short video
  9. Feedback & Next Steps (Sripradish Kapikad)
  10. Vote of Thanks (Meghna Girish)


This workshop was organised by Akshay’s family and well-wishers, under the Major Akshay Girish Memorial Trust, in response to a need expressed by students who are motivated to join the Defence Services but lack information and clarity on the career opportunities that exist and how to prepare for it. The workshop was attended by 94 students studying in educational institutions mainly in Bengaluru and also few from other cities in Karnataka. Some of them were part of the National Cadet Corps.

The workshop started with a welcome by Akshay’s wife, Sangeetha, who was the MC for the event. This was followed by an introduction to the Major Akshay Girish Memorial Trust by his father, Wing Commander Girish Kumar. The Trust is inspired by Akshay’s life and patriotic legacy and will take forward his unfinished work of service to the nation.

The first session was a glimpse into the lives of the three services by young serving officers. Major Pankaj Pathak, Lieutenant Commander Akshay Raja and Sqn Ldr Abhinav Rao are all from the prestigious National Defence Academy (NDA) where young cadets are trained for three years to become Officers in the Defence Services. They underwent same initial training and then split up for training in their specialized fields. As Major Pathak put it “It’s the ‘josh’ with which one joins, which determines how far he/she can reach”. He is a part of the Paratroopers and has also had Special Forces training with the US Army. Lieutenant Commander Akshay Raja is in Navy Aviation and has flown the Boeing P8 and has done 3000 hrs of flying. Sqn Ldr Abhinav Rao had other career options but chose the Defence Services and is a fighter pilot. He quotes Paulo Coehlo from The Alchemist, “When you want something, the entire universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”, reiterating how important it is to be passionate about what one wants in life.

These three young offices are course mates of Major Akshay Girish, i.e., they spent three years in NDA together. Major Pathak went on to do the engineers course with Akshay. They shared stories about how deep and strong friendships are in the armed forces, and about how they’re all brothers in arms. They also explained how the Armed Forces gives the most satisfying life experience which goes well beyond any other career.

This was followed by a question-answer session with six panelists. The three officers who had spoken were joind by Major Puneet Dutta(Engineers), Major Ekta(ASC) and Major Karan Sharma(Infantry) . It ranged from queries regarding the maximum eye power allowed to clear the medical test, subjects needed for eligibility, the possibility of choosing a service of choice, to how is one’s family looked after if he/she is in the Armed Forces. The panelists cleared all these doubts thoroughly and also gave examples from their own lives to prove their point.


The second session was on how the Military could be a long-term career option which was presented by Gp Captain Ashwani Bhakoo, who started by saying that military was not a career, but a lifestyle. He shared many inspiring videos on Army, Navy and Air Force and also on careers in CRPF, CISF, ITBP, NSG, BSF etc which come under the Home Ministry. He explained in detail the various career options in the Armed Forces, eligibility, salary, etc. He spoke of how the military takes care of you and your family.

MAGF-47The next session was conducted by Girish Nair, who is the founder and CEO of Pace Global HR. He spoke about his journey in the Short Service Commission and how it is very important to have a skill set, which is the beans, and values and beliefs to guide us, which are the genes. He correlated this to his life in the IT sector and beautifully explained how these beans and genes govern us wherever we go. He gave an idea of the opportunities even after serving in the military because the military trains you to be a leader in any field.

This was followed by a very touching session by Vikas Manhas and Adrija Sen. They are from DESH, an organisation that is working towards connecting different martyr families and offering them emotional support. Vikas, from Jammu and Kashmir, calls himself the ‘storyteller’. He began by sharing personal stories about Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, who was martyred in the November 2008 Mumbai attacks. Next, he spoke about the very humble, Col DPK Pillay, and the great gestures of his life. The highlight of this session was when Col DPK Pillay himself took the stage, and gave an emotional, heartwarming speech on Akshay, about how he saw himself in Akshay.


Hero Capt DPK Pillay

Cavalier Academy Team took the next session to familiarise students on early entry in the Armed Forces through NDA, and also to brief the students regarding the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) exam. Students were given tips on how to solve the written examination which consists of Paper 1 which is a mathematics based paper and Paper 2 which comprises of General Knowledge, English, Polity and other miscellaneous questions.

Next, there was an interesting interactive session with Col Anshul Trivedi, on the Services Selection Board (SSB) Interviews. He then went on to split his life into different phases – Operational, Instructional and Present. He also narrated several anecdotes from his own life and stressed upon the fact that experiences in life take you much farther ahead than textbook knowledge. He gave an insightful explanation on the procedure and expectations of SSB Interviews and how one can go about to clear it.

Flt Lt Aditya Raj Gupta, Akshay’s close friend, shared some personal childhood stories of Akshay. He spoke about how Akshay always stood up for whatever he believed was right and this was backed up by the fire in his eyes, which never flickered. Akshay’s quote ‘Aim for the skies so that you will find yourself among the stars one day’ made a real impact on all. He also shared with us a short video on Akshay’s life. It also had short poems written by Akshay, which along with the video, left the whole room teary eyed.

Akshay’s brother in law, Sripradish Kapikad, then explained what the Trust plans on doing next and how one could help them through this journey. He informed us about the different verticals of their mission – website, blogs, Facebook, counseling, school representatives, volunteers etc.

Lastly, we had Akshay’s mother, Meghna Girish, giving the vote of thanks, without whom this event would not have happened.MAGF-103

It was interesting to see how interactive the students were even during tea breaks and lunch breaks. They were filled with enthusiasm and questions which only go to show that they will make the country proud one day. The takeaway from the workshop was the motivation to do something in the Defence Services, either directly or indirectly, and take pride in our nation’s heroes for the eternal sacrifices they make for us every day. The moto of the Trust, Be Inspired says it all.


Participants Feedback

There was a registration form which the students filled in before the workshop and a feedback form which they filled after. Some of the comments that show the passion of the students to do something for the nation and in turn for themselves are given below:

Pre-workshop information: What motivates you to join the Defense services?

  • Patriotic
  • Provides healthy activity-based lifestyle
  • Gain respect of society
  • Protect nation and family
  • Ensure peace and harmony
  • Family of freedom fighters and then in the military so motivated to join
  • The discipline, self-confidence and motivation taught
  • A National Level rider wants to join the 61 Cavalry
  • A respectful, adventurous and inspirational life brings out the patriot in oneself

One of the participants quoted “You can earn and you can buy anything, but not the Army uniform”


Describe your approach towards preparing for the UPSC for a career

  • Got information on the subjects and areas that have to be prepared for the exam.
  • Knowledge of current affairs
  • Physical training
  • Mathematics
  • Keeping record of important current affairs
  • Mock tests
  • Working on sharpening analytical skill, critical thinking,
  • Focused preparation and determination
  • Structured plan for preparation and sticking to it.

Post-workshop feedback on what one learnt

  • Learnt that we can do anything if we have the right attitude, the determination and confidence in ourselves
  • Cleared my doubts about joining the Defence Services
  • Completely inspirational workshop. Now thinking of joining the Forces
  • Widened by knowledge about the Forces. Now can look into more opportunities in the Forces than I thought earlier
  • Amazing workshop, inspired by young commanders
  • Learnt so much today. Want to join the Army. Will work hard for that.
  • Inspirational workshop. Will spread the word around
  • Got a clear insight of the Defence Services as a career
  • Helped to know how to approach the examination. Thanks
  • Doubts cleared
  • A memorable and unforgetful day …ready to join the Army!
  • Will develop skills lacking in me.
  • Had no idea about the number of careers in the Services. New avenues for us.
  • Completely motivated. Will start preparing from now!

“Inspired by the acts of Major Akshay Girish. God Bless him and the family.

In Yash’s (a participant) words “What I liked the most was when Sir’s mom came to dais and gave vote of thanks – without shedding a tear! That shows how a brave soldier is always ready to sacrifice his own life for others. A big salute to Girish Sir and Meghna M’am”.


(Report prepared by Shriya Shankar and Sarita Deshpande).


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