No-Frills Academy: Origin-Future?

 No-Frills Academy: Origin-Future?

In this blog I have explained how No-Frills Academy began and what is its future.

Teaching “Enhancing Personal Effectiveness”

I had worked in the selection system for two years: 2010-11. During these two years I had developed a very low opinion of all the SSB coaching academies. When I quit Army, I never thought of getting into this line of work. While working at Clover Greens (Golf Course) in Hosur I taught, “Enhancing Personal Effectiveness” to management trainees at Ashok Leyland Management Development Centre (MDC) for two years (2012-13). The organization had considerable material on the subject. After studying the material over 3 months I concluded that the teachings of Stephen Covey in “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” were superior to all the material held by MDC. I, thus used just this one book to teach the students. My classes were well received.

Past Experience in Teaching

As a young kid I was fond of acquiring knowledge but had very little time to study. Kite flying and numerous other games were far more attractive. Fortunately, parents never told me to study. If the word ‘liberal’ is used for my parents it would be an under- statement. Environment plays a vital role in shaping our lives, so it did for me. My playmates needed to pass the exams to retain their freedom to play. In order to ensure their availability to play I had to help them pass the exams. I had to learn fast & teach fast. Till date my elder sister remains one of my most difficult students. She has the unique trait of writing one English word with 2-3 different spellings at different places. I got mentors at various stages of life- Brother Gannon in school, Flt Lt RK Singh at NDA, Naik Balak Ram in 20 PUNJAB, Hony Capt BS Thapa of 5/8 GR & Gp Capt R Verma. Brother Gannon taught the most important lesson about learning: “Formal education is not required to learn something; desire to learn can be good enough”. Today I am a self-taught Tennis player, Boxer, fitness guide, shooter & know some bit of academic stuff as well.

During my Army career I have trained Boxers, athletes, shooters, cadets in NDA, Army officer aspirants for Defence Services Staff College, a competitive exam taken by Captains/Majors (like SSB I had passed this exam in first attempt) and troops operating in Counter terrorist operations in NE Region of India.

Non-Conformist Trainer

I had always felt that an informal one on one chat or talk with a small group of Boxers or shooters or juniors in the Army was far more effective in guiding people than formal, structured training. I prefer the idea of the trainee controlling his training rather than I controlling it. I have not had great respect for established methods of training. The first coach I had in our school days in Tennis I could beat easily & so did not learn any Tennis from him. I found my first Boxing trainer at NDA to be not worth following. I found the combined IQ of the entire Commando School at Belgaum pretty low. I taught myself how to shoot after realizing that the combined NDA, IMA & Infantry School training had failed to teach me how to shoot & then I taught my battalion how to shoot [23 PUNJAB has not lost a shooting competition at Division level since 2002-the second year of my command till date!]. I still use the informal chat with a student or a small group of students to guide them.

Out of Work

In 2013 I had left my Golf Course job & relocated to Meerut. After a failed business with a friend I could not find a decent job. I then started No Frills Academy (I have been a non-believer in frills, hence the name). Since I was against the concept of all the SSB coaching academies that I knew I evolved a concept which made sense to me. I knew personality assessment from my 17 SSB experience and had taught personality development for 2 years. I clubbed the two skills to evolve the concept which is in use at No Frills Academy. I had time which I utilized to write blogs on SSB & the subject of personality through a Facebook page named No Frills Academy.

Early Success

My first student was Shubham Mehta & second was Nupur Golani. Both cleared SSB. Slowly the methodology of No-Frills Academy crystallized & improved based on inputs from the students.


Aviral, one of my students created the first website in 2015. In 2017 the website was reformed by Satyendra (another student). The Instagram Page was started by Raj (another student) in 2018. I started writing answers on in 2015. Mrs Shalini, wife of Col Ajesh (one of my students at NDA) joined No Frills Academy to guide students in English in 2017. Progress has been very good but largely unplanned. Aviral, Satyendra & Raj have played probably a greater role in promoting No Frills Academy than I have. Creation of students’ discussion groups in 2018 has played an important role in the development of students. All the written SSB training material has been created by Raj & Satyendra.

Way Ahead

I do not have any concrete plans for expansion. As the work expands more people will definitely get involved. The prime focus of No-Frills Academy has been the improvement of the students. Students have played a major role in how No-Frills Academy has evolved. We strive for continuous improvement.

Personal Angle

Getting on the wrong side of the authority has been a childhood trait. I have rarely compromised on values and had realized {when I was an instructor at NDA (89-91), considered to be one among the future Generals} that I will not become a General because I could not do what others were doing. At times I was just alone in taking a stand on issues. There is poor correlation between taking stand and promotion in India as well as the world. I have never had the ability to out-smart people, hence the only thing I could do was outlast them. I have no reason to make my family suffer because of my stupid values. Thus, I have resolved to work for 10 years more than my colleagues. Hence, I will be working for No Frills Academy till 2030 (my chances of surviving & also not going senile till then are quite high). Thereafter my son will decide the future of No-Frills Academy.

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