Son of the soilAsk my father what he does for a living, nine times out of ten, he will tell you that he grows coconuts and pepper. Talk to him long enough and he will tell you about our fish farms. It doesn't matter if you run into him in southern Iraq (where is works) or Shanghai (where he…I'm not so sure) his heart is firmly in Pulincunnu, Kerala.

Why? "Because we are farmers – sons and daughters of the soil" that's his response. My family shares a special connection with farmers, no matter where they are from what they grow.

Meet Lieutenant Satyadeep Dhanda, winner of the Silver Meda at the 2006 IMA batch of Armoured Engineer, Unit 1, from Village Baghana, Hissar District, Haryana.(Image: Lieutenant Dhanda with his mother and grandfather. His father died when Satyadeep was at the NDA.)

Why the Army?

I am from a village, my father was a farmer. He died when I was in the 4th term at the NDA. I went to a government school and in Class VI my father sent me to the Sainik School, Kunjpura, Haryana. I was the first one in my family to pass the Class XII exam.The Sainik school inspired me a lot, it was four hours from my home. I lived in the hostel and had the same kind of routine. I competed for a seat in the Sainik School. 13 students from my class were selected for the NDA.

Is your profession fraught with danger?

After wearing a dungaree, all fear vanishes. You could send us anywhere. In civvies there may be some fear but wear a dungaree and you can go anywhere. Anywhere. It is a very good profession. It has everything. Before joining you should have it in you that you want to join the army. You have to have that aim.

Heroes

I am most inspired by my school. I got everything from here. If I hadn't joined the Sainik school I wouldn't have become an officerFamilyI have three brothers, all from the Sainik School. Two are doing engineering; after that they will also try for the army. All three want to join the army.

Have you been a source of inspiration for your brothers?

After seeing me, all my cousins want to go to a good school. There are two, three officers in the army from my village. When I go home in the holidays, I tell the young people in my village to join this school or that school.I tell them to at least fill the NDA form; if not the first time, the second time you will be able to clear it. I tell my neighbours about the value of education.

Aspirations

My unit must expect more from me since I received the silver medal. I want to be remembered as a good officer.I will be going to my regimental centre — the Madras Engineering Group, Bangalore, where we will be taught the history of the regiment etc for a month. Then I will move to my unit in Jhansi.