Shanan Dhaka, a 19-year-old native of the Haryana province’s
Rohtak district, recently made news as she was declared the top recruit in the
NDA’s first women’s batch. In the National Defence Academy (NDA) entrance test,
she placed first among female candidates. Dhaka has secured the 10th position.

Her accomplishment is viewed as remarkable because the NDA would
allow female applicants for the first time in its history. It was difficult for
Dhaka to get in since 1.77 lakh of the almost five lakh applicants who applied
for the test were female.

“Working in Army isn’t a job
but service. Once during an NDA mock test at school, girls wanted to sit for it
but weren’t permitted given it was only for boys. Now when I recall that day,
it feels good” says Dhaka.

Dhaka enrolled for a BA programme at Lady Shri Ram College for
Women last year. She comes from a family of army officers, and she has always
had that zeal to serve the army one day. As she recalls, “there was one saying
that my father and grandfather used to say, ‘fauji fauji hi rehta hai, bhale
who retire ho jaye’.” Fauji chorr deta hai par fauj kabhi chorrti hai.
You’re always there, and it’s like a family. I always wanted to join this
family. ” Her father retired as a Naib Subedar from the Army Service
Corps, while her grandfather, Chanderbhan Dhaka, was a Subedar.

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“Growing up in cantonment
areas, I saw the respect being accorded to Army officers. Plus, the trust
everybody has in Army personnel motivated me to join the service. It’s an
opportunity to serve the nation with unparalleled pride and honour,” said

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According to the Indian Express, she attended the Army Public
School in Jaipur, Roorkee, and Chandimandir (Panchkula). In contrast to her
younger sibling, who is in grade 5, she has an older sister who serves in the
military nursing service.