If you are fascinated by life in the army, Shoot, Dive, Fly is a must-read. The book aims to introduce teenagers to the armed forces and tell them about the perils—the rigours and the challenges—and perks—the thrill and the adventure—of a career in uniform.
Ballroom dancing, flying fighter planes, detonating bombs, skinning and eating snakes in times of dire need, and everything else in between! Author Rachna Bisht Rawat speaks to SheThePeople.TV about the book, and how girls can and should dream of joining the army!
What was the idea behind the book? What do you want readers to take away from the book?
It is book that introduces the army to young people. It is a career book disguised as a book of stories. The aim is to show young people that there are a vast variety of jobs within the army. Currently, the army is short of 7,000 officers
I always wondered why people don’t opt for the army. My father, husband and brother were all in the army — it is a wonderful job.
The intention is to introduce the vast variety of jobs you can do in the army. Through the book, young officers also spoke to the media for the first time.
What are some of the opportunities available for people who want to join the army?
People don’t know about the many opportunities that the army offers — when we think of the army, we only think of wars, and fighting with guns. However, the role of the army is a lot wider
There are cyber warriors, white hat hackers, helicopter pilots, skydivers — the army promotes adventure in a big way — you can get paid to do things you may like, such as skydiving. The army also has no age restrictions. The territorial branch of the army is one which even older people can join. There is a man who joined at the age of 44. M S Dhoni is also part of the territorial army.
Can you tell us about some of the interesting stories about women in the book?
There is a story of a lady officer in the book who is a rifle shooter. She is from a small town in Haryana, and is also a mother, wife, and daughter. I asked her how she gets the time to do her job along with all her responsibilities. She said “I have some dreams that are mine.” Her most prized possession is her rifle, which she keeps locked up in her cupboard. There is another girl from Rajasthan who covers her face at family functions, even though she has led an expedition to Everest.
How can we break stereotypes when it comes to women joining the armed forces, or participating in areas which are looked at as restricted to men?
You have to prove that you are as good as them. Gender doesn’t matter if being in the army is your dream. One of the ways we can promote the army as a viable career option to young girls is to publicise and share the stories of women who are already in the army. Girls have to see role models, they have to be able to think “If she can do it, even I can.”
How difficult was it to make the subject matter relatable to teenagers?
I have written extensively about the army, but I have never written for kids. When I began, I wrote three stories, and showed them to my son, and his friends who are all teenagers. I got the stories vetted and received feedback on what was boring, what could have been more interesting, and whether they were comfortable with the language. I had to work on making the stories interesting. So every story starts with an incident of adventure. For example, one story starts with a scene in which a helicopter pilot is on a rescue mission in the Siachen, but he can’t land, because of the snow cover. Ten mountaineers are stranded, and the helicopter has low fuel. The story then moves on from the incident to the life of the officer. I speak about careers at the end of the story.