The South Pole beckons

Updated: Sep 30 2006, 05:30am hrs
Master Chief ERA Raj Kumar is officially a technical sailor from the submarine arm of the Indian Navy. Though adept at his job of tracking deadly enemy submarines across the maritime boundaries of the Indian peninsula, Kumar has now been pulled from the seas and sent to the freezing mountains for his current assignment. Sounds like a daunting task. Kumar, though, is enthused by the mere thought of it.

"There are several reasons behind this excitement. First, it calls for a different kind of responsibility as an armed personnel, much different from what several of my colleagues have been assigned in India. Second, it allows me to take a break from regular work and indulge in travel and adventure while on the job.

Third, it lends me a chance to set a yardstick for armed forces across the globe to follow," says the qualified engineer and mountaineer.

Yes, Kumar has a reason to celebrate after being selected as part of a 10-member team travelling to the South Pole, a first-ever for a defence team anywhere in the world since 1912. With their eyes firmly set on reaching the Pole, the group of adventurers will begin their journey in December.

The mission is not only a trial of our physical fortitude, but also a test of our self-confidence and trust in our colleagues, where communication with one another and managing and helping team members in case of a mishap all matter. In fact, it becomes more than that. Its a test of team building, trust and hard work, says Lt Cdr Gaurav Pande, a member of the team.

The trip would mean 15-20 days of travel, thrill and adventure. One needs to do all this to keep the manpower on their toes. No doubt, its a combination of work and adventure, but unlike other instances, there is no room to fail, adds Commander Satyabrata Dam, the leader of the team.

"Moreover, he adds, the mission calls for a unified effort by the team. It is also a test of their team spirit to know how well they understand and want to help each other. This would the personnel and the mission in the harsh terrain ."

Submariner Dam has led the Indian Navy to its expeditions to Mt Everest (2004) and Greenland (2006). In fact, the last trip was just to make the personnel aware of the hardships one can face in blood-chilling terrains. Also, realising that a trip to Greenland is still a fraction of the challenge that the Pole offers, we are leaving no stone unturned to prepare fully, he says.