Suresh Bhichar, who carried a national flag during his 350-km (217-mile) sprint, said he was "passionate" about joining the army, but recruitment had stalled for two years and aspirants were "starting to get old". (The maximum age of enlistment of a soldier is 21.)
With 1.4 million personnel, India's army is one of the country's - and the world's - top employers. For many young Indians, it's a coveted and secure job. Every year, some 60,000 personnel retire and the army holds up to 100 fresh hiring "rallies" to replace them. For the past two years, hiring has been suspended because of the pandemic, officials say.