Anushka Borde leads the way to become first woman to get AIR 2 in NDA

One year after Supreme Court (SC) ruling that made women eligible for joining National Defence Academy (NDA), Anushka Anil Borde, 18, has made headlines by getting All India Rank (AIR) 2 in the NDA entrance examination.
This was Anushka’s second attempt at the NDA exam. “In the first attempt, I scored 582/900, and appeared for the Services Selection Board (SSB). While waiting for the final merit list, I appeared for my second NDA written exam just out of curiosity. While I did not clear my first attempt, I cleared the second with AIR 2,” says Anushka, a resident of Aurangabad, Maharashtra.
Anushka was preparing for the IIT-JEE exam in 2021 when the SC judgement made her reconsider her life options. “My class teacher in standard VIII had first introduced me to the possibility of pursuing a profession in Defence. The challenges and adventures that such a choice would offer captured my interest,” she says. After hearing about the SC ruling, Anushka gave up her initial plan to appear for the IIT JEE exam to start preparing for NDA.
With no Defence personnel in her family, Anushka relied on the mentorship of her teachers and formal coaching. “Since they were unaware about what life in the Armed Forces entails, I had to give my parents and elder brother an orientation into the same. My passion convinced them and they came onboard with my choice,” says Anushka, who is fond of music and sports and was a part of her school’s cricket team that played at the division level.
On the best strategy to crack the written exam and SSB interview, Anushka says, “Girls must prepare hard for an excellent written exam, as we have few seats in NDA. As I was already preparing for IIT JEE, my Maths is strong, and I did not face any issues with the written test.” During the SSB interview, examiners check more than just the candidate’s physical prowess. “Our mental framework is being judged at this time and any attempt to fake our personality will go against us,” adds Anushka.
Women seniors at NDA have advised her to be prepared for tough physical training. “Conversations with seniors suggest that as of now training for boys and girls at NDA is the same. Thus, having the right frame of mind is imperative,” says Anushka. Her personal challenges include being a bespectacled individual. “I have spoken to other cadets who wear glasses. They have advised against using contact lenses as these may get lost on the training ground while specs can easily be picked up and worn again quickly if they fall off,” she says.
Since infantry services have not yet been opened for women candidates Anushka is hoping to get commissioned into the Service corps or Corps Signal once her NDA training gets complete.
To all the doubts and questions about women’s ability to excel or even deal with a life at NDA, Anushka says, “It is only the second time that girls have appeared in the NDA entrance test and already two of the top three spots have been claimed by us. Our achievements will be an apt answer to all the questions about our abilities.”

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