All about brotherhood

Anamika Nandedkar
Saturday, 10 August 2019

No Margin For Error is the story of their life in the Army, right from the time newly commissioned officer Neel boards the train to go for his first posting, to meeting Sam in his unit, till the time this special mission turns their world up-side down. 

Two NSG commandos get ready to enter the hotel in Mumbai which was under attack from terrorists, with a team of highly trained men from the elite Special Forces — the crème de la crème of the Indian Army. Rescuing guests from every floor and making sure that no bomb or terrorist gets left behind, Capt Neel Dutta and Maj Sam Fernandes move with precision and skill that comes from years of military training.

No Margin For Error is the story of their life in the Army, right from the time newly commissioned officer Neel boards the train to go for his first posting, to meeting Sam in his unit, till the time this special mission turns their world up-side down. 

The book is the third in the series of military fiction written by Tanushree Podder, who has previously penned Boots Belts and Berets, a novel about a cadet’s life at the National Defence Academy, and On The Double, which charts their life at the Indian Military Academy, after which four young friends get commissioned in the Army. Neel, in this book, is the son of one of those four friends, who followed his dad’s footsteps to join the Army. 

For all those who want to know what ‘exactly’ does an Army life include, this book provides an exhaustive narration of the adventure, hardships and danger that men in uniform face. Neel’s tenure in his Artillery unit ranges from the deserts of Rajasthan near the Pakistan border, to North-East where we share the border with China. 

The reader gets a peek into the life of the young officers, who learn how to bond with their troops. Separation from family, long-distance relationships and the pressure of performing well at every junction is what life is all about for Neel. 

While living in civilised areas, it is hard to imagine the life one leads at a border post. It is easy to romanticise and glamourise the situation. Movies, novels and stories do that. The truth is different. It is a tough life. One that no one enjoys. Forget the heroic stories and ballads. It is dismal. It is depressing... are Neel’s thoughts while he spent months at a forward post near China border. 

Oh and for those who feel that they should join the Army because they are not good enough at studies and would love to live a life of adventure only — the book tells you point-blank what every armyman will tell you — being in Army means lots of studies, courses to pass, grades to achieve and merit lists to top! No, being in the army does not mean goodbye to studies. 

No Margin... explores life in Kashmir where every fauji spends majority of their career time in the country. Neel finds a great friend and willing mentor in Sam who inspires him to study well and maintain highest level of physical fitness. He shares his experience in the Valley with Neel, who is new to the place. He does not paint a rosy picture at all. Readers will find this segment very interesting, considering the recent discussions everywhere about Article 370 being scrapped for Jammu and Kashmir. 

There are times when one gets the feeling that the author, who comes from Army background, has assumed that the reader would also be well-versed with some terms used in the force. While those from olive green family would easily understand terms like ‘Adjutant’, ‘Advance Party’ and ‘Battery,’ others might not grasp the meaning. A few lines explaining these words or a preview about army life at the beginning of the book would have helped a lot. 

All in all, No Margin For Error is one of Podder’s finest works till now and guarantees a fast-paced adventurous read. 

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