[ MDI Speaks, the official Blog of CorpCom (the student managed body responsible for handling MDI’s public relations) featured one of its Management students, our very own Prince Jose, in their People in MDI featurette on 20 August 2011. The MDI or the Management Development Institute   is a prestigious business school in India. It was established in 1973, is internationally known and is consistently ranked in the top 10 b-schools in India, often in the top five. In recent survey results, it has been ranked as the best B-School in North India. Prince is currently on his Armed Forces Program in Business Management at MDI. ]

People in MDI

The 13 Armed Forces Program (AFP-13) at MDI commenced on 18th April 2011. The life experiences of the participants and their core values from the Forces present a great learning opportunity for all Mandevians. The Corporate Communications Cell is glad to facilitate this interaction. Kaustubh Mohite (PGPM 2011-13), Jr. Co-ordinator, CorpCom, had a conversation with Maj. Prince Jose (AFP-13) , which he recounts here.

Major Prince Jose reminisces with the precision of an army man, and in the argot of a mountaineer. On a sheer cliff 5100 metres above sea level, at the height of the Kargil War, he painstakingly hammered his piton into the ice, moving up one step at a time. His task was to attach a rope to the top of the wall of ice, by means of which his band of 40 soldiers could climb up the slope, taking cover in the cracks and crevices, towards the enemy fortification above. This was the assault on Sando Top ordered in the midst of the battle for Tiger Hill, to divert enemy resources. The enemy called for artillery fire.  A shell landed five metres from me. But the contours of the mountain were such that it landed on its belly, and did not explode on impact. The killing zone is usually at least twenty metres. Five minutes later another shell landed. Thirteen of us died.

In his battle performance report, Major Jose’s Commanding Officer Col. John De Britto writes, “This young and energetic officer, while fixing a rope on a 70-degree ice gradient, was hit by an enemy artillery splinter. He fell 300 ft and became unconscious for half an hour.  Then, it was back to duty.Col. De Britto:  On regaining consciousness, he suffered memory loss for 15 minutes and went on to lead the assault on Sando Top. The soldiers called base camp and asked for artillery backing.  That mellowed the enemy somewhat, Major Jose recalls. The assault force then regrouped, and, without any further casualties, reached the enemy post and neutralised the resistance. In the words of his CO, the Colonel:  A commendable Operational performance.

In the space of two years, Major Jose led eight successful counter insurgency operations, which included raids on hide outs, ambushes, and hostage rescue operations. He was awarded the Sena Medal for Gallantry for his role in Op-Prince, a raid on a militant hideout, which has been used as a case study in the schools of instruction of the Armed Forces for its excellence in planning and execution.

Internal injuries sustained during the assault on Sando Top caught up with him years after the war. In 2002, he suffered a stroke which paralysed the right half of his body. He also had problems with his memory. Not one to be defeated by adversity, he recovered completely with regular physical conditioning and the practice of Yoga. In the meantime, between 2003 and 2006, he earned a degree in mechanical engineering, writing some of his exams through a scribe. Between 2000 and 2011, he has been in command of four different workshops (Divisional Level Maintenance Facilities), and has been Head of Operations of a team of 200 technical personnel. He is also a CISCO-certified internet security expert. In Kerala, he has been closely involved in the management of the Mother and Child Foundation, an abode for abandoned mothers and children.

In April 2011, he joined the Armed Forces Program at MDI- he chose this program over its counterpart at the IIM Bangalore. He wants to specialize in Corporate Security and Project Management, a field in which many of his army comrades have achieved high positions.

Asked whether he has ever received the impression that civilians live in their own cocoons, in ignorance of the difficult and dangerous lives of the soldiers guarding their borders, he says, Yes, but that’s ok. In fact, it is how it should be. A nation requires good soldiers, good doctors, good lawyers – each role has its purpose. At the end of the Kargil war, when he returned on leave to his hometown  Kottayam, Kerala,  he recalls that the railway platform was crowded with people waiting to receive him. There were bands playing, school children lined up, and shops by the roadside were shuttered, with the proprietors standing outside, cheering. Representatives of various religious communities met and honoured him. He heard over and over, he says, from people who heard his story, that they would happily give up their life’s work to be part of just one of the operations that he had led.

Is there a difference between the values he has always lived by and those of the nation in general?I don’t judge that  negative Values develop over a long time in my case, the process began at the Sainik School. And I willingly imbibed the values of the place. I love soldiers  of whatever nationality, they stick to their word -till the last gasp of their breath and the last drop of their blood  and never let the enemy take an inch of land without a fight.

To me, leadership is a function of selfless sacrifice and a ticking brain. If someone is ordered to risk his life climbing a mountain towards an enemy post daring flying bullets, he’d be a fool to do it out of fear of an  Army Act. He does it out of trust of the man who leads them into the flying bullets, of his character and his integrity. I don’t understand the preoccupation with gaining popularity “ if you don’t have passion, you cannot be a leader”. In all my years in the army, I have never had to use the Army Act to force a subordinate into action,  it did not even cross my mind. Laws and penalties are merely a safeguard to be used in rock-bottom situations. For people who really want to perform, these are irrelevant.

 My years in the army were the golden period of my life. Given a chance, I would change nothing in my life. I’d do the same all over again. I’d be delighted if my son, Louis, now two years old, born on Vijay Diwas  chose to take this path himself.

As he begins a new phase of his career, Major Jose summarises his perspective on life –

Many of my closest friends and comrades have passed away on the job. Even I have had my share of close shaves. To me, every new day is a bonus.

Read the article as it originally appeared here.

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