At the grand end-of-course special dinner, cadets were thumping the table as the names of the medal winners were announced by the commandant of the National Defence Academy in Pune. Bronze... silver... gold.
Battalion Cadet Captain Afrid Afroz knew he would be in the top five, but did not know that he would win the President's Gold Medal for being the best overall cadet in academics and sports of the 144th course that graduated in June 2023.
After dinner, the officers who served as instructors came up to him and patted his back -- the equitation officer being the first.
Afrid was a proficient polo player and had passed out with a half blue in riding. He was part of the NDA team that took part in the Junior National Equitation competition and the Army Equestrian Championship. He was also awarded a half blue in PT.
He was awarded the Gold medal for being the best overall cadet and another medal for best all round air force cadet. Battalion Cadet Captains are appointed Academy Cadet Captain -- the senior-most appointment -- in rotation for a period of 3-4 weeks.