Humor in Uniform : Civil-Military Equivalence


Recently – a “Babu” issued a letter regarding inter-se “equivalence” between Civilian and Military Officers posted to Service Headquarters in New Delhi.

And – many Senior Officers – serving and veteran – went hyper on the Social Media complaining that Defence Officers had been “downgraded” vis-a-vis their civilian counterparts.

I get amused when I see excessively Rank-Conscious Senior Military Officers and Veterans who are obsessed with things like “warrant of precedence” “civil-military equivalence” “status” “protocol” “inter-se seniority” etc

Of course – junior offficers and soldiers/sailors/airmen are least bothered about such inconsequential things which are mainly Delhi-Centric.

As a young officer – I didn’t care two hoots about things like “warrant of precedence” “civil-military equivalence” “status protocol” etc – my only aim was to have a good time and enjoy my job in the navy – and – in my mind – I thought I was nothing less than an Admiral.

Well – the recent brouhaha over the “civil-military equivalence” letter reminded me of this story…

Story of the SCIENTIST “Z”

A Fictional Spoof By VIKRAM KARVE 

After slogging for 5 years in the Navy – afloat and ashore – I was “selected” to undergo the “prestigious” 2 year M. Tech. course at IIT Delhi.

On completion of my post graduation (M.Tech.) – I was posted to the military “babudom” in Delhi – what we in the Navy jokingly referred to as the landlocked “Northern Naval Command”.

Though ostensibly it was an Research and Development (R&D) billet in consonance with my recently acquired M.Tech. qualification – in actual fact – I was a pen-pusher – a “Babu” in Uniform.

I clearly remember the first day I reported to my new job after completing my M. Tech. at IIT Delhi – my first day as a “Babu in Uniform” to push R&D files.

I reached my office dot on time – at exactly 9 AM.

The moment I entered my office – I saw a man sitting inside.

I noticed that he had picked up the phone and he was dialing a number.

From the way he was dressed – I thought he was a peon or conservancy staff.

Maybe – he was trying to misuse my official phone for his personal calls.

Despite my being in uniform – he seemed to be ignoring me – and

he continued his phone call.

I got angry.

I roughly took the receiver from his hand – and – I put the receiver back on the telephone instrument.

Then – I told him in Hindi to get out of my office.

The man stood up – and – he said rudely to me in English: “You talk to me properly. I am a Scientist “F”…”

Scientist “F”…? The impertinent bugger was only a Scientist “F”…! He must be equivalent to a bloody Leading Seaman – or at most – a Petty Officer. Yet – he was talking so arrogantly…” I thought in my mind.

I decided to bullshit the hell out of him – navy style.

So – I gestured rudely with my fingers – and – I told him in English to get out of my office.

But – the man would not budge.

In fact – he again sat down on the chair.

I lost my temper.

I raised my voice – and – using typical profane navy language – I told the guy in no uncertain terms – to “bugger off…”.

(It may not be apt to tell you the exact swear-words, expletives, “four-letter words” – and – navy style profanities that I shouted at him)

The man was shocked and taken aback by my shouting and abusive language – and – thoroughly shaken up – he quickly disappeared from my office.

A few minutes later – a smartly dressed civilian entered my office.

He was my direct boss – the joint director – who I had met only fleetingly when my predecessor had introduced me to him in the director’s office during my “incoming” interview with the director.

“Good morning, Sir,” I wished him.

“Good morning,” he said.

“Sir – please sit down,” I said.

The joint director pulled a chair, he sat down and he said to me: “Everything okay…?”

“Yes, Sir …” I answered.

“There is a thoroughly terrified and shaken up person sitting in my office. He has almost had a nervous breakdown. He says that you abused him in filthy language – and – you bullshitted the hell out of him. What happened…?” the joint director asked.

I told the joint director the full story – and – I added: “Just imagine, Sir – what an impertinent bastard – he is just a bloody piddly Scientist “F” – and – he was behaving as if he was a Scientist “A” or Scientist “B”…! So – I let him have it – nice and proper – and – I threw him out of my office.”

The civilian joint director burst out laughing – and – he said to me: “Tell me – what do you think I am…?”

I looked at him – quite clueless.

The civilian joint director looked at me – and – he said to me: “I am also a Scientist – you tell me what grade you think I am…? Tell me – what do you think is my grade…?”

I looked at him – and – I thought to myself: “Surely he could not be a Scientist “A” – if so – he would have been the director – or maybe – even higher. At most – he could be a Scientist “B” – or more likely – a Scientist“C”…”

It was better to err on the safer side – so I said to him: “Sir – you must be Scientist “B” – or – you must be a very senior Scientist “C” …”

“I am a Scientist “E” …” he said.

“You are an “E”…! Really Sir…? How can you be a Scientist “E”… ” I exclaimed in surprise.

“In R&D everything is topsy-turvy. In academics – grade A may be higher than grade B which is higher than grade C and so on – but here – everything is ulta-pulta (topsy turvy) – in reverse order – so Scientist “F” is higher than Scientist“E” – do you understand…?” he said.

“Oh, shit…” I said.

“The guy you bullshitted is a Senior Scientist “F” – he is equivalent in rank to your Navy Captain or Commodore…” the civilian joint director said to me.

“Sir – I am sorry. Should I apologize to him…?” I said.

“I think so…” the joint director said – and  – it seemed that he was deep in thought.

I remained silent.

Then – the joint director looked at me and he said to me: “On second thoughts – I feel that you did the right thing. Sitting here in Delhi – I think that this is the best way to deal with those buggers from outstation units who come here and disturb us. Now that you have earned a reputation as a bullshitter – let your terrible reputation spread – and no one will bother you here…”

I sat in silence – feeling relieved.

The joint director got up to leave – and – as he walked to the door – he turned around – and he said to me: “And by the way – there is no rank as Scientist “A” – in R&D – the alphabet starts with “B” – so Scientist “B” is the junior-most rank. Why is it so…? Why there is no rank of Scientist “A”…? Well – I don’t know – so please don’t ask me…!”


At first I thought that Scientists were dumb in having a reverse order of alphabet hierarchy.

But later – I realized that the “Boffins” were much smarter than everyone else – particularly the straightforward gullible “Faujis” who were outwitted by the Scientists on most occasions.

During those days the senior-most rank was Scientist “F”.

Soon – they created a Scientist “G”

Later they had a Scientist “H”

And – they can endlessly go on and on creating more and more higher ranks – Scientist “I”  Scientist “J” – Scientist “K”…“L”…“M”…“N”…“O”…“P”…

They can go all the way down the alphabet – till they create a Scientist “Z” – who may outrank everyone in the military hierarchy and civilian bureaucracy.

You never know – but the way their ranks are proliferating – these canny “Boffins” may one day even claim that Scientist “Z” outranks the President.


Copyright © Vikram Karve
1. If you share this post, please give due credit to the author Vikram Karve
2. Please DO NOT PLAGIARIZE. Please DO NOT Cut/Copy/Paste this post
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.


  1. This story is a fictional spoof, 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. 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.

Copyright Notice:

No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.

Copyright © Vikram Karve (all rights reserved)

Earlier Posted by me Vikram Karve in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal Blog on unter title SCIENTIST “Z” on Dec 19, 2013 by Vikram Karve at 12/19/2013 03:42:00 PM at url:  and and 


  1. 1

    A very entertaining yet realistic piece of work!


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