Link to my original post in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal:
There is speculation that those officers who seek Premature Retirement (PMR) may not be entitled to “One Rank One Pension” (OROP).
If true – one ramification will be that most officers will prefer to remain in service till they attain the age of superannuation – and then retire on superannuation which will entitle them for OROP.
Earlier – many superseded officers quit on PMR the moment they got passed over for promotion.
Now – most superseded officers will prefer to remain in service till superannuation in order to get full benefit of OROP.
Earlier there was an incentive for officers to take PMR and begin a second innings in the civilian world – so officers were not that desperate for promotion.
Now – officers who are obliged to remain in service till superannuation will be eager to get promoted since age of superannuation increases with rank – and it is always better to be a promoted officer than be a superseded officer.
Also – the very term One Rank One Pension (OROP) implies that Pension will be based on Rank.
Thus – desperation for getting promoted to high rank will increase and this will further exacerbate the “Rankomania” epidemic afflicting the Defence Services.
All this reminds me a spoof I wrote a few years ago.
Here it is – for you to have a laugh – and to ponder over.
Read Part 1 – The Story of the Rankomaniac “Faujan” – if you just want to have a laugh.
Go on to Part 2 – Moral of the Story – if you want some Food for Thought to ponder over.
(By the way – in military parlance – “Fauj” is a generic term for the Military – Army, Navy and Air Force – and hence – a “Fauji” is a Military Man – and a “Faujan” is a Military Wife – and yes – it was an Army Wife who introduced me to the term “Faujan”…).
THE RANKOMANIAC “FAUJAN”
THE STORY OF THE RANKOMANIAC “FAUJAN” – a story by Vikram Karve
“A” was a most ambitious naval officer.
His sole aim was to become an Admiral.
He moved heaven and earth – and he did everything possible to achieve his objective.
Those days – the first promotion board was for the rank of Commander.
As his promotion board approached – the fear of supersession made him highly anxious and tense.
Soon – he came to know that the promotion board was over – but the results were not yet declared – and he eagerly waited for the promotion signal.
This excruciating wait almost drove him crazy.
He was hearing conflicting rumours about his promotion – some said he was on the select list – and some said he had got an “R” and had been passed over for promotion.
This made “A” so tense and stressed-out – that he started going crazy.
One day his shipmates called us over and told us: “Hey – you guys are his friends. He is so bloody tense about his promotion. He is almost on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I think you chaps better speak to him and pep him up a bit.”
“We will do that,” we said.
“The promotion signal is likely to be released tonight. The bugger is so nervous and frantic that he may even commit suicide if he does not get promoted. He is all alone – his wife and kids are away in their hometown for their summer holidays. I think it is better someone is with him to make sure he does not go berserk and to prevent him from doing something stupid – in case his name is not on the select list,” said a shipmate of “A”.
In the evening we reached his house with a bottle of rum.
We did not have to open our bottle – since “A” had already opened a rum bottle and was drinking away to soothe his nerves – and it seemed he had already imbibed quite a lot of alcohol.
“Why are you worried…? With your outstanding performance – you are sure to get promoted,” we said.
“What bloody outstanding performance…? Someone told me that the buggers in Delhi are manipulating the list. That is why the promotion signal is delayed. I hope the bloody signal comes tonight…” “A” said – and he downed his glass of rum.
His voice had a note of desperation.
I filled up his glass and said to him, “With your outstanding sea service – they cannot ignore you.”
“Sea Service…? Sea Service My Foot…! All this sea-report crap is bullshit. Look at the number of guys who get their sea-time waived – and all of them get promoted. Someone told me that my name is being pushed out of the list to accommodate some bloody influential landlubber pen-pusher sitting in Delhi. I am convinced about one thing now – never go to sea if you want to get promoted,” he said bitterly.
“Let’s go out for dinner,” I said, trying to change the subject.
I thought that – maybe – an outing would change his mood and do him a bit of good.
“No. I am not feeling okay. If you want you guys can go ahead,” he said.
“Okay. I will sit with you and give you company here. He will go and get us some dinner. What do you want – Biryani from Olympia or Butter Chicken from Delhi Darbar?”
“I am in no mood to eat. You guys eat anything you want,” he said.
As my buddy left to get food – on the way out – I whispered to him to go to the signal-centre and find out about the promotion signal – when was it likely to come…
We – “A” and I – we kept drinking rum.
“A” was quite drunk now.
It was more than 2 hours – almost midnight – but my shipmate buddy had still not returned.
I feared the worst.
We kept drinking in silence.
We had lost all sense of time
Suddenly – my buddy arrived.
He seemed overjoyed.
The promotion signal had arrived.
“A” had been promoted – yes – his name was on the select list.
On hearing the good news – “A” asked, “Are you sure my name is on the select list…?”
“Of course your name is very much there. I knew you would have doubts – so I have got a copy of the signal for you – see for yourself.”
“A” kept staring at the promotion signal – at his name.
All his pent up tension seemed to dissolve – and relief was visible on his face.
It was time to leave him alone to savour his moment of triumph.
But – “A” would not let us go, “No. No. Wait. Don’t go. The good news calls for a drink. I have kept a bottle of Royal Salute Whisky for this occasion.”
“Whisky? After so much Rum?” I asked.
“Come on guys. It doesn’t matter. Today is a special day. Let’s celebrate,”“A”insisted.
We kept drinking – and in due course – the bottle of Royal Salute was polished off.
“Hey – it is nearly 3 in the morning. Time to leave,” I said.
“A” looked at me with hazy eyes and said, “Thanks for coming.”
“Do you know why we actually came?” my buddy asked, lurching drunkenly.
“Shut up,” I said.
“No. Tell me. Tell me why you came,” stuttered “A”, his speech blurred with intoxication.
“They told us you would commit suicide if you missed your promotion,” my buddy blurted out.
“A” looked at us and said, “Well – I really don’t know what I would have done – if I had been passed over for promotion. But one thing is sure. My wife would have committed suicide if I had missed my promotion.”
“What…? Your Wife…? Are you saying that your wife would have committed suicide if you had missed your promotion…?” we asked in surprise.
“Yes – my wife would have committed suicide if I had missed my promotion,” he said.
“But – why should your wife be so anxious whether you get promoted or not…? Getting promoted or superseded affects you – but how does it affect your wife…? I can understand that you were desperate to get promoted. But your wife…? Are you telling us that your wife is more career conscious than you…?” we asked “A”.
“A” looked at us and he said: “Yes. My wife is more ambitious than me. She would have been totally devastated if I had been passed over for promotion – and she would have surely committed suicide. She had worked so hard for my promotion. She would not have been able to bear the agony of my supersession…”
After uttering this insightful truth – “A” drank the whisky remaining in his glass – and then he collapsed and passed out on the sofa – happily drunk.
The Greek word philia means excessive liking or love.
So – rankophilia means excessive love for rank
An overly rank-conscious officer may be called a rankophile
The Greek word mania means excessive obsession, an intense craving or overweening desire
So – rankomania means excessive craving for rank
Hence – an overly ambitious officer who is excessively desperate to get promoted to high rank may be called a rankomaniac
If you have served in the defence services – you may have come across manyrankophiles who are excessively rank-conscious – and even morerankomaniacswho are desperate to get promoted.
I have seen some rankowives too – yes – “rankowives” – those “faujans” – military wives who are excessively rank conscious of their husband’s rank and even more ambitious than their “fauji” husbands.
Yes – like the one the story – some “faujans” can be more ambitious than their “fauji” husbands – and sometimes – these Rankomaniac Wives can vitiate social life in the services.
MORAL OF THE STORY
PROMOTION PROSPECTS IN THE DEFENCE SERVICES
ACS (Assured Career Supersession)
In the Civil Services – you have career incentives and benefits like Assured Career Progression (ACP), Non Functional Upgradation (NFU) and Non-Functional Financial Upgradation (NFFU).
For Civilian Officers – Promotion prospects are good, and promotion to a certain high rank is virtually guaranteed by the time you retire at the age of 60.
However, in comparative terms – promotion prospects are much less in the Defence Services.
In view of the steep pyramid like hierarchical structure in the army, navy and air force – it is very difficult to get promoted – especially to high rank.
Worse – in the military – they retire you off at a young age if you do not get promoted to high rank.
Unlike the almost 100% promotion in the civil services – the promotion percentages in the armed forces are much lower.
That is why I used to jokingly say that – whereas the civilians have ACP(Assured Career Progression) – the military “faujis” have ACS(Assured Career Supersession).
It is a sad irony that even civilians who are supposed to support the “man in uniform” like Civilian Defence Scientists enjoy much better career prospects than the uniformed Armed Forces – who are the mainstay of the nation’s defence.
Another unique feature of the defence services is the extremely high degree of rank consciousness (rankophilia) – a consequence of which is the desperation to get promoted to high rank at any cost (rankomania).
The saying RANK HAS ITS PRIVILEGES (RHIP) is carried to the extreme in the Armed Forces resulting in a situation where RANK HAS ALL THE PRIVILEGES (RHAP)
This aspect further exacerbates RANKOPHILIA and RANKOMANIA
In the Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force) – everything depends on your rank.
Your rank determines your status, your pay, your perks, your post retirement job prospects (especially in PSUs), your retirement age – your rank determines even your pension after retirement – like OROP – “One Rank One Pension” – each and everything depends on your rank.
This obsession with rank is extended to your wife and family as well.
Yes – the status of an officer’s wife depends on her husband’s rank.
This results in absurd “designations” like “Senior Wife” “First Lady” etc
These so-called “Senior Ladies” try to flaunt their husband’s rank.
This pernicious practice continues despite the fact that we now have Lady Officers in the Armed Forces whose status is officially higher than those who are mere Wives of Senior Officers.
This “pecking order culture” in the defence services makes rank the most important thing in military life – at work – and even in social life as well.
Since your rank is the “be-all and end-all” of military life – most officers (and their wives) are desperate to get promoted at any cost.
The chances of achieving higher rank are quite slim due to low promotion percentages especially as you go higher up as the vacancies become fewer and fewer.
There is a saying that in the navy (or army) that “…All officers get superseded at some stage – since only one can become the Chief…”– unlike the in the civil services and police where there can be many officers of the rank of Secretary and Director General.
There is an intriguing aspect of promotion – at least in the navy – which I have observed.
Very few officers are superseded for professional incompetence.
Yes – very few officers are superseded due to incompetence in performance of their professional duties.
Most of the superseded officers are highly proficient in their duties and are professionally competent.
It is mainly due to some “personality clash” that they have been superseded and passed over for promotion.
But that is another story – which I will discuss sometime later.
PASSOVER WOES (THE PAIN OF BEING PASSED OVER FOR PROMOTION)
Supersession has two effects:
1. Loss of self-esteem and end of the road (blocked career growth) for the individual
2. Feelings of inadequacy and humiliation at the social and familial level
In the rank-conscious feudal culture of the defence services – if you are superseded and passed over for promotion – you have to contend with a situation where you may have to work under an erstwhile junior which can be a most humiliating experience.
Even at the social level your wife may have to suffer the humiliation of being bossed around at AWWA and NWWA by a much younger wife of an officer who has been promoted and has leapfrogged over your husband who has been unfortunately passed over and fallen by the wayside.
That is why – one of the greatest fears of an officer (and his family) is the fear of supersession.
This “supersession fear” is a result of the the potent combination of“rankophilia”and “rankomania” – exacerbated by poor promotion prospects due to pyramidal hierarchy structure in the armed forces.
In many cases this “fear of supersession” gives rise to ruthless competition fuelled by overweening ambition.
The manifestation of this careerism is visible in the increasing contretemps among officers – the rising number of grievances – and ever-increasing litigation on promotion issues – and frequent “succession battles” – which make headlines in the media from time to time.
In the defence services – promotion is probably the most stressful issue for a careerist officer, his wife and his family.
Due to this – many officers in the promotion zone are in a state of “CAREER FEAR”.
“Career Fear” essentially is an individual’s reluctance to stand up for his values and principles because he fears that this may damage his career prospects.
He does not want to stick his neck out or “rock the boat” for the fear of harming his promotion prospects.
“Career Fear” results in “play safe” mindset and the “zero error syndrome”.
An officer afflicted with “Career Fear” places self interest before the interest of his men – and such a careerist officer can no longer be a true leader – since a careerist officer dumps the Chetwode Motto and puts “Self Before Service”.
Are RANKOPHILIA and RANKOMANIA adversely affecting leadership quality in the Defence Services…?
Can CAREER FEAR be mitigated by having initiatives like Assured Career Progression and Non Functional Upgradation (like it exists in the Civil Services) and reintroducing Running Pay Band like it existed earlier in the Military – all such initiatives which will hopefully reduce the excessive rank consciousness in the defence services.
Till then – “Rankomania” will be a part and parcel of military life.
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1. This is a spoof, satire, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
2. This story and all stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
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This is a Revised Version of My Article written by me Vikram Karve 2 years ago in 2013 and Earlier Posted Online in my Blog by me Vikram Karve a number of times including at urls:and and and and
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