The Himalayan Trekking- An ultimate workout for life

Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (Shortly known as LBSNAA) is the most craved for desire and a destination of an UPSC aspirant. The name ‘LBSNAA’ itself stirs the fire of enthusiasm in us. Often we have a strong urge to know, what exactly happens there? What kind of training is given to the Officer trainees (OTs)? How does an ideal day starts and ends in the day of an OT? What creates them into a full-fledged officer to serve the nation in a polished format?

In order to add to your thrill and enthusiasm of striving a bit harder we bring before you the LBSNAA series. The LBSNAA series intends to get you an insight into the experiences associated with the life of an OT thereby pushing you towards your dream destination that is the LBSNAA, Mussoorie. This is something you can look up to, keeping yourself energized towards the preparation.

In the first series we present the adventurous process of Himalayan Trekking that forms a part of the Officers’ Training.

Here are some thoughts from (IAS 2005) Rangarajan Ramakrishnan (AIR 46) providing you the glimpse of the Himalayan Trekking and how it feels to have set your foot at the temple of the administration of the country, The happy valley:

The uncommon thrill of trekking

Trekking is not something which is very common. We see them in advertisements, in the movies where people will be really trekking long distances but for every person arriving from the varied nook and corner of the country at LBSNAA, trekking is compulsory as part of the foundational course. But when you are informed that you are going to be taken on a one week trek, it is shocking, especially to those who don’t have the habit of walking kilometers and that too trekking in Himalayas! Hence the trek is made in simple treks. There is a place called Lal Tibba which is the tallest peak in that stretch. There is also a place called Nag Tibba and the peak is always waiting to offer you with some good food corners after a tiring yet adventurous journey. For a person belonging to the plains, climbing Lal Tibba gives the feel of having climbed Mount Everest .This is the kind of exhilaration you get along the climb.

The forest trail-The road less travelled

You might never have seen a leach all your life and suddenly you land up in a literal forest ground .The location is usually filled with leaches and one has to put salt inside their socks that acts as a protection as the salt doesn’t allow the leach to penetrate inside. One has to make sure that the salt is put in right quantities. Such an experience ensures that you get trained well for the longer treks on unknown, untraced landscape.

The chill climate and the adaption

The trek takes place during the month of August-September when the impact of summer is there. There is not much of snow. The main trek includes carrying ruck sacks, all the clothing required for one entire week of the trek. But during winters, for a person from the south who only knows three climates that is hot, hotter and hottest and is not aware of the winters, surviving the cold gets little challenging. And you go round buying sweaters, thermals, blankets, Maggi and chocolates and a drink or two to keep warm.

There is place called Ganga Dhaba, walking up from the auditorium to the Ganga Dhaba is in itself a mini trek. There is a specialty of the Ganga Dhaba.Guys running those dhabas are used to see IAS officers every year for the past 40 years. Every day in a routine they serve tea, parattas etc., unlike they do to the other visitors while for the trainees it feels like having become an IAS is having conquered the world.

The value in being self-reliant and self sufficient

There will be no cook accompanying you through the trek and the trainees are broken down into groups of 10-12 people who make their own arrangement of cooking. The trek goes on for a week, people cook on their own, both non-vegetarian and vegetarian food, working hard at the altitudes to make sure that the required food items are available. The trek even takes you to very exotic locations like Roopkund, Gangotri, Yamunotri, Rupin pass. For the Rupin pass, you trek from one side of the Shimla, go down the Himalayas and climb up the other side. You even find sheep rearers along the way. People even go up to Gangotri, which is the starting place of the Ganges.

Everyone is supposed to go in a group. The doctors will be there to ensure everyone’s safety. Government cares for the safety but only during times of emergency .There will be people like directors, associate directors, who will come on patrol, to check out if someone is riding up on the donkey instead of walking. The District administration also provides the necessary support through block level/tehsil level officials. There is a lot of fun and humor even with the faculties but at the same time there is a sense of discipline too.

The trainees get up early in the morning at 4:35 so that the trekking can be started at 6 and then walk for 10-15 km every day .Throughout the event of trekking you get to sleep in tents and it will be raining, you will be drenched and there will be lot of chillness around and to compensate the chilling climate the OTs will set for themselves bonfire acting as an external thermal.

Things you may like to know about the CBM

There is no differentiation between male and female trainees, to the amount of trek they have to cover. Almost 20-30 % of every batch consist of women trainees. A group of 12-14 people will have 3-4 women. That even leads to one important things in the lives of the officers that is the cadre based marriage (CBM).It is that if you want to change the cadre marry a person of that cadre .The soulful fixing happens there and even undergoes a series of changes during the months of Bharat Darshan accompanied with lot of heartbreaks, but along the way it is taken as a part of learning. As part of the bonfire you sing, cook, dance, exchange food and pleasantries and it is all so beautiful.

Reaching the finish line of the trek

People are skeptical, they have no idea if they will be able to finish off when they started but once they come back, they are proud to have done it to the end. After coming back to the academy there is a presentation of the team’s activities in front of the entire batch of 400-500 trainees, including what they saw, what they did, what they bought, vegetables and fruits along the way, there are instances that even people eat them along the way. Knowing every team and their part of trek is another set of adventure in itself.

Ultimately why is this trek there?

3 main attributes of a good civil servant is Sharing, Caring and daring and the trek instills in these values very practically and exclusively.

For instance, whatever limited resources you carry along the trip, there will be times when you will have to share them among your companions. Next, while climbing uphill there may be some girls who are weak and so it will take time for them to climb or even there are times when girls climb faster and there will be fat men down ,who would be slow in climbing, but as a team you have to care for all. It is not about who climbs fast .It is made sure that all people climb together so that the basic quality of caring for the fellow human being is given importance because as a civil servant you are going to be in positions of power which has to influence lives of millions of people with the sense of share and care. A civil servant should be daring. He/she should be brave to take decisions. Hence the whole experience adds to the elemental effect of daring in the minds of officer trainees.

These are the small thrills, but when you look back and reflect upon after years , it is all the full of exhilaration, lessons along the way and memories for life.

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.” Edward Abbey


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Officers IAS Academy

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