Meet India's Finest Young Soldiers
Three days before he received the most coveted award, Ashish Mehta broke the news to his parents.
"I am getting the Sword of Honour," he said of the stately sword that is awarded to the best all-round cadet at the Indian Military Academy, Dehra Dun.
Mehta won the top two honours at the Academy this year. The Sword of Honour and the Gold Medal for first place in the order of merit. Last year, he won the Bronze Medal at the National Defence Academy, Khadakvasla.
In a batch of 610 Gentleman Cadets, Satyadeep Dhanda, from a village in Hissar and the first in his family to pass the Class XII exam, won the silver medal.
Bhawani Singh, the gold medallist at the NDA last year, was awarded the bronze medal.
Deepak Galhotra, who went to the same school as Param Vir Chakra winner Vikram Batra and turned down a job with Wipro, won the silver medal in the Technical Graduate Course.
Animesh Srivastava, son of a retired railway officer from Lucknow, won the silver medal in the Technical Entry Course.
The Soldiers Who Know No Fear
The young men, who were commissioned as lieutenants in the Indian Army last week, spoke of their aspirations to Archana Masih with an infectious enthusiasm and a rare conviction.
Photographs: Jewella C Miranda