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HomeDEFENCEA soldier who defied death many times

A soldier who defied death many times

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For someone who had always dreamt of being a soldier, getting commissioned in the Army as an officer in 1991, was indeed a momentous occasion. Having completed his schooling from Sainik School, Rewa he joined National Defence Academy in Pune. Thereafter, he joined the elite Special Forces but nine years later, Sengar’s dream of a career iSiachen (2)n the Army was shattered with severe injuries to his leg and hip during the Kargil war. An outstanding combat soldier, Sengar had been seriously wounded twice in operations. A highly decorated war hero of the Special Forces, he was the recipient of the prestigious ‘Commando Dagger’ in his eighth year of service while competing with officers much younger to him. His phenomenal fitness earned him the sobriquet ‘Rocket’ by his juniors.

His first brush with death was in 1998, where he sustained a serious abdominal gunshot wound. In the exchange of fire he eliminated two terrorists. But Sengar was back on his feet and psyched himself to recovery, and history goes, including driving up with a friend in his car with tubes hanging out of him to attend a unit officer’s wedding. There was no stopping this soldier. His second faceoff with death, and unfortunately all the more lethal was in September 1991. This time an AK-47 round shattered his hip bone.

During his convalescence in hospital, Sengar was informed about the seriousness of his injury. The medical opinion was that he would never be able to walk without crutches and that meant that he would not be able to return to the Special Forces which he loved more than his life. He was still under the impression that once out of hospital, he would be back in action again as it had been when he had last got injured while taking part in a stealth operation.

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When the seriousness of his injury finally dawned on him he decided to leave the Army as he saw no future without his regiment and certainly didn’t want a desk job. Unsure of his next move, he thought hard about the corporate world. While recuperating, he got himself a computer and learnt how to use it by balancing it on his chest as he was unable to sit up as he was on traction. He also read every single book in the Red Cross library of the hospital. Of the one year spent in recovery, he started to prepare for the CAT exam, including learning Mathematics from the basics. He left the army as a Major, on two crutches, a few days later got married and another few days after that joined IIM Ahmedabad for an MBA. A remarkable journey indeed…every step of the way.

He first did an internship with Lehman Brothers in Tokyo where he not only got to work with an investment bank but also underwent intensive acupuncture therapy. He then joined pharma giant Dr. Reddy’s laboratories in Hyderabad as a Manager. Two years later, he became an Associate Director, heading HR operations of a business unit.  After two-and-a-half years, Sengar decided he wanted a more challenging job and Khun_Summit (2) (1)so in 2005, when business process outsourcing company Genpact offered him the post of Assistant Vice-President, he took it up. But this was just a short stint as at one of the IIM alumni meets, he got an offer to head a start-up—TMI First.  In 2009, he moved on as Delivery Project Executive in IBM and was then picked up by Microsoft in 2013 for their Singapore based office. His forte now being Business Excellence.

Sengar’s better half Jaya mentions the only letter he wrote to her was so matter of fact and said, “Remember you are marrying a man with books in one hand and the crutch in the other hand.” Jaya is the daughter of renowned Indian tiger conservationist, Thakur Fateh Singh Rathore who was also widely acknowledged as the ‘tiger guru’. Jaya is actively involved in the Prakratik society which deals with finding solutions to the conflict between people and animals at Ranthambore. She is also the ‘CEO’ of their home as Sengar aptly puts it across as she has three boys (including Sengar) to manage! Their two sons, aged 13 and 11 who are currently studying in Singapore have won an award in the Children’s International Film Festival besides acing Mathletics globally…the very same subject Sengar shied away from.


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Jaya recalls hearing about Sengar for the first time through mutual friends. She had always admired the defence forces and therefore her parents considered her getting married to an army officer a logical decision. They came from a highly traditional and conservative family and decisions such as marriage were taken by the family members. At their first meeting, which lasted barely 15 minutes, Jaya was impressed by how candid and down to earth Sengar was. As duty came first and foremost, Sengar went back to his regiment and their engagement was fixed in absentia. Their days of courtship were extremely tough and tense with the unit’s move to Kargil and with little or no communication. Unknown to Jaya, Sengar had been seriously wounded in an operation. She heard of it in late November. The seriousness of Sengar’s injuries forced him to ask Jaya to reconsider marrying him. Meanwhile she faced pressure from family and friends on this issue. Despite knowing the gravity of Sengar’s injuries, Jaya never faltered and stuck to her decision to marry him. She has been his source of strength all through his battles. Today both of them agree that these experiences in the past have made them much stronger as individuals and also brought them closer. Not once did Sengar allow his physical disability to come in the way of his successful corporate career. One has to make use of your personal skills and talent to reach your goals. There are no two ways about it.

Now sitting as a Management professional with 20+ years of experience in leading organizations in India, Philippines, Singapore and Japan (including a successful start-up) Sengar is adept at change management with experience of turning around organizational performance in different sectors/industries including Pharma, IT, BPO, RPO and Services. He has handled multi-million dollar P&L responsibilities for roles spanning services globalization/ offshoring, sourcing strategy, solutioning, shared services, vendor management & governance and transition management, both in captive and outsourced environment. Sengar has experience of program management in large/complex shared services environment for employees located in Americas, Asia and EMEA in matrix organizational structures with focus on risk mitigation along with business process re-engineering.

SengarA soldier to the core, Sengar fought his personal battles with strength and valour and came out a winner. He reminisces though that there is big difference between the work culture in the Army and in the corporate world. He also misses the camaraderie that he enjoyed in the Army. But there is no looking back for him and each new day brings forth new challenges to overcome and new goals to set.

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Rashmi Oberoi
Rashmi Oberoi
Freelance writer and columnist


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