Physical training or PT (as we call it) reminds us of our school days when we used to get ready with the PT uniform to the school assembly grounds and stand for 20-30 minutes under the summer sun and the winter fog stretching under the open sky. But this was there in our curriculum to basically supplement our academic performance. It was supposed to give us an overall growth, both physically and mentally ensuring that we stay fit.

Is the kind of training a school kid undergoes same as that of what the officer trainee (OT) at LBSNAA has to undertake? What has the physical training aspect got to do with the training process in the life and career of an OT .The same question makes an OT even wonder on its utility ,the moment they are informed that they have to be ready for the PT at 5 o’clock in the morning.

Well this reading brings us to the understanding how important and interesting are the aspects of getting trained physically in the early morning hours when mornings are the best time to enjoy the best of the sleep. Apart from that it even showcases how important is this element in the life of an OT.

Here is an account on the elements of the training as narrated by (IAS 2005) Rangarajan Ramakrishnan (AIR 46).

“Today I know that physical training should have as much place in the curriculum as mental training.”-Mahatma Gandhi

To begin with, there will be one most popular and dreaded physical training in-charge who will be carrying along with him a long whistle at 5o’clock in the morning waking the trainees from their cozy sleeping time .The funny part is that many trainees will be wearing their entire sportswear along with the socks before going to bed at night itself and just get up in the morning ,wear the shoes and run to the PT ground. People jokingly say that the Department of Personnel and training, DoPT (the cadre controlling authority of the IAS Officers) was only fit to make one do Pity.

But there is something important attached to it which we need to realize.

  • When you feel physically fit, body and mind is also fit .
  • If one has the practice of being physically fit during performing exercises, or during cross country runs, it will get reflected on one’s mental strength too.

10-15 years later when you ask an officer what is their opinion on PT, they would say that when they were in the academy they did not like it at all but after years together, they look forward to start with the habits.

  • The physical training also gives the feeling of well-being and freshness.
  • Jogging or walking as a civil servant or as a trainee or as an individual provides you the vigor to carry on the day’s activities.


A very grand feeling of utter happiness flows in when it rains and majority of the OTs think that there is no PT but that isn’t the case. The PT will anyhow take place inside the badminton court. There are many funny incidences wherein when the trainees don’t do the stretches properly and the instructor in charge will be able to locate them even 20 rows behind and he will come there and make them do that. There are people who even pretend to be performing the exercises out of a dislike towards it. But ultimately it is a very pleasurable experience in the morning doing exercise in the hills.

And over time you start loving it and you see that it has a long term benefit .The purpose why the Government of India has included PT as part of the training curriculum is to help one’s physical fitness translate into one’s mental well-being.

Coming to yet another adventurous part of the LABSNAA series let us have a look into what is the importance of Horse riding and why is it there in the curriculum.

Horses are known as the primitive automobiles. They had a significant military use and it had its major place in the warfares. Even the kings and the warriors who owned significant number of horses were considered mighty. What relevance has the induction of horse riding got to do in the training process towards the making of an Officer? In a technologically enabled world what has the horse got to do?

If we look back into the history, during the British rule in India there was a system called the Indian civil services (ICS).In those times horses were the only vehicle through which the collectors could travel to the interiors of the districts and so horse riding was made an important part of the training. In fact people, who failed to qualify in the horse riding, did not qualify for the ICS. There is even a saying which states, “if you want to know how well the collector has performed the duty ,go and see how much the seat on which the rider sits on the horse, has got eroded’’,which indicates that the person has travelled extensively on his horse.

Officers these days are being provided with the latest vehicles by which they can go to places and horse riding which dates back to the colonial days has no significance in the modern day. There is an anecdote, that there was a file that was put up before Mrs.Indira Gandhi, the then PM of the country ,who herself was a passionate horse rider,asking the horse riding to be discontinued.And it is believed that she wrote in the file that , ‘if a man can control a horse ,he can control a mob’.

So it is there till date to bring in the element of valor and the element of confidence and the sense of strength in your mind.

First time getting up on the horse feels like getting the mains question paper in your hands. It feels like almost being trampled under its body. The trainer asks you to ensure, you hold it tight because a horse is a very intelligent animal and if it throws you off in your first ride, then it will never allow you to climb on it again. When you hold it tight and sit there, it is then that the horse realizes that you are not afraid of it.

But why should an IAS officer trainee learn something that involves a hard physical activity which probably must go well with an IPS trainee? The point is that it is not there for the purpose of really learning how to ride a horse, but to gain the confidence to face any hurdle that falls along one’s way.

There are two stages of horse riding, the trot and the canter. Canter is when you ride the horse very fast. Trot is when you and the horse run at a very moderate pace. It is a difficult task as you are supposed to make a perfect grip between your thighs along with the horse’s body,rise and sit along with it.In the first few days the back gets bruised badly and then you go buying the special protective gears, helmet, long shoes etc.,from the mall road in Mussorie.

Even if it rains there will be PT inside the badminton court, but no horse riding as the horses have to go in the well maintained course. The rains and the cancellation in the first few days give the same feeling of relief as clearing the exams. But as the days pass by, you eagerly look forward to do it. Within two months when you learn to trot and there is no class because of the rain, it feels really bad.

There are times when you go on small treks along with the horse on Saturdays and Sundays to places like Lal Tibba, Nag Tibba in the specially made horse courses. When you climb a mountain sitting on the top of the horse and being able to control it gives a sense of confidence that is immeasurable. To clear the horse riding test as part of the IAS phase-I, a trainee is supposed to take one complete round along the horse course.There is a joke made in the training academy for years which says , “you don’t have to worry,the horses will make you pass,they will ensure you complete the round.”

Every officer trainee who has been to Mussourie will definitely cherish this 4-5 month’s company with the horses.

“Horsemanship begins and ends far beyond the horse. We must first learn to connect with the wild horses of our innermost thoughts and dreams. We need then to discover that we ourselves are our greatest competitor, our greatest source of power and our only source of success. Winning horsemanship is more than you think.” Joanne Verikios (Author, horse breeder and an award-winning athlete)



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Officers IAS Academy – Best IAS Academy in Chennai.


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