Archive for September 5th, 2018

Humor in Uniform – Does “Defence Management” make you unemployable in the “Civvy Street”…?

September 5, 2018

I am unemployed.

I am unemployed – because I am unemployable.

I am unemployable because I spent my lifetime in military service – “serving the nation” – in the Navy.

Once you join the Defence Services – the Army, the Navy, or, the Air Force – every year of military service reduces your employability in the “Civvy Street”.

And – if you serve your entire lifetime in military uniform “serving the nation” – you are rendered totally unemployable in the civilian world – like me.

Therefore – my advice to military  officers who want to have a “second innings” in the civilian world is:

“Get out of the military as early as possible…”

Because:

The longer you remain in uniform – the less will be your employability in the civilian world.

And soon – like me – you will be totally unemployable – and – will have to spend the rest of your life “doing nothing” – like I am doing.

Why does this happen…?

It happens because the longer you serve in the Defence Forces – the more of “Defence Management” you will learn and imbibe – and these “defence management” concepts will remain ingrained in you – rendering you incompatible and useless for the civilian world.

You don’t believe me…?

Read on…

WHY I AM UNEMPLOYABLE

Defence Management “Wisdom” that made me Unemployable 

A Spoof By Vikram Karve

Disclaimer: This is a fictional spoof. If you do not have a “sense of humor” – please do not read this story. 

“DEFENCE MANAGEMENT”

 “Management” Lessons I Learnt In Uniform – Fictional Spoof By Vikram Karve

Dear Reader:

“Management” in Uniform is different from Management in the Civilian World.

In order to illustrate this – let me summarize for you – a few “management” lessons I learnt as a military officer in navy uniform.

My long Military Career in the Navy can be broadly divided into 3 main parts:

  1. Afloat – on Frontline Navy Warships
  1. Ashore – in Stone Frigates (Naval Establishments) – chiefly in Naval Dockyards.
  1. On “deputation” to “Inter-Service” Establishments – especially in IAT Pune.

In my “Humor in Uniform” Stories in my Blog – I have – from time to time – narrated some of my “Defence Management” experiences – and – told you about the “management lessons” I learnt on board ships – and – in the Naval Dockyards at Mumbai and Vizag – which made me much “wiser”.

In this article – I shall tell you about some “management” lessons I learnt during my first tenure at IAT Pune – more than 33 years ago – in the mid 1980’s.

[NB: The generic word “Fauj” refers to all arms of the Military (Army, Navy, Air Force) and the term “Fauji” or “Soldier” refers to all military personnel in uniform (Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen)]

“Defence Management” – Lesson No. 1

FOR BRAINSTORMING – YOU MUST HAVE “BRAINS” TO “STORM”

I decided to have a “brainstorming” session.

However – there was just one problem.

There were no “brains” to “storm”.

As per my customary practice ever since I had joined the Navy – I had left behind my brain at home while coming to work.

This gem of wisdom had been imparted to me very early in my Naval Career by one of my illustrious senior officers.

Even today – I clearly remember the wizened old Sea-Dog’s “words of wisdom”.

He had said to me:

“We don’t require brainy chaps in the Navy.

The Navy is a Master Plan designed by geniuses for execution by idiots.

By any chance – if you are not an idiot – but if you find yourself in the Navy – you can only operate well by ‘pretending to be an idiot’.

So – one you join the Navy – there is no need to use your brain.

You just do as you are told.

So – if you are in the Navy – it is best if you don’t have a brain.

But – if you are one of those exceptions who do have a brain – yes – in case you do have a brain – you must never bring your brain to work.

Do you understand…?

You must keep your brain at home.

Make sure that you don’t bring your brain to work…”

So – I had not brought my brain to work – I had left my brain back at home.

And about the three “pongo” Johnnies in “OG” sitting in front of me – the less said the better.

I wanted to “Brainstorm” – but there were no “Brains in the room.

So – in order to “brainstorm” – now I would have to go home – “insert” my brain back into my head – and then “storm” my “brain”.

So – Dear Reader – remember this – it is all very well to experiment with high-falutin management techniques like “brainstorming” – but before you begin brainstorming – make sure there are enough “brains” to “storm”.

‘Availability of Brains is the sine qua non for Brainstorming…’

So – before you embark on a “brainstorming” session – look around and ensure that you have enough “brains” to “storm”

And – like my boss said – for those of you who want to join the “fauj” – it is best you don’t have a brain.

But – alas – in case you do have a brain – and – by some quirk of fate – you find yourself in the military – remember that you must never bring your brain to work – always make sure that you keep your brain at home –and don’t bring your brain to work.

That is why – in the Military – there is no such thing such as “Brainstorming” – there is just “blind obedience”.

In the Military – when you are given an order – you just say “Yes, Sir, Yes, Sir, – Three Bags Full, Sir” – and you do exactly what you are told to do – nothing more – nothing less.

“Defence Management” – Lesson No. 2

IN THE DEFENCE SERVICES – YOU HAVE TO BE “JACK OF ALL TRADES” AND “MASTER OF ONE”

Hey – let me digress a bit – and tell you why I was holding this “brainstorming session” in the first place.

This happened moe than 33 years ago – in the year 1985.

I had just assumed my new appointment as teaching faculty in IAT Pune as a newly promoted Lieutenant Commander.

My primary job was to teach, guide research, design, administer, evaluate – do everything – to put it in a nutshell – I had to run a post graduate course in Engineering (a “turn-key” job).

Of course – those days it took 11 years of commissioned service to become a Lieutenant Commander – unlike today – when you see greenhorns who haven’t yet fully grown their whiskers strutting around wearing two and a half stripes – thanks to the benevolent Ajai Vikram Singh Cadre Review Report (aka AVS 2006).

The Institute of Armament Technology (IAT) was a unique institution – whose faculty was composed of officers from the Army, Navy and Air Force – and – in addition to Military Officers – there was also a rather peculiar species called “Scientists” – who were civilians.

The amusing irony was that:

Most uniformed Military Officers on the IAT faculty were more highly qualified than the “Scientists”.

In keeping with our penchant for changing names – IAT was later renamed DIAT – and I believe it is now called MILIT – but it is still remains the same lovely place nestled in its sylvan surroundings in the verdant hills of Girinagar.

But that is another story…!!!

I was sinking my teeth into my new appointment at IAT – when I was summoned by my boss – who told me with a sense of urgency in his voice:

“You go immediately and take over the CSD Canteen. There is some fiasco over there – and – you are to take over as “Chairman IAT CSD Canteen” immediately…”

Before you get ideas that I was being elevated to a prestigious assignment of a “Chairman” – let me explain.

“Chairman IAT CSD Canteen” was no great appointment.

This was a “bum job” – a sundry duty I had to do in addition to my primary job.

And the high-sounding title “Chairman” meant nothing – it was IAT parlance for what we in the Navy called “Officer-in-Charge”.

For those civilians uninitiated with life in uniform – let me explain that in the Army, Navy or Air Force – you can be asked to do any “bum job” – which can include almost anything and everything – irrespective of your qualifications or specialization.

I have performed “bum jobs” ranging from running poultry farms, piggeries, milk dairies and food farms, managing administration, running catering services and liquor bars in wardroom officers’ messes, running officers’ clubs and administering schools and libraries – besides conducting and supervising a host of so-called “welfare” activities.

In the Defence Services – you have to be:

“Jack of all Trades – and – a Master of One” 

So – you have to do all these “bum jobs” in addition to your primary job which is in accordance with your professional specialization.

By the way – I later learnt that Civilian Employees get incentives like “Extra Duty Pay” and “Overtime” if they are asked to perform any extraneous duties.

But – if you are serving in uniform in the Armed Forces – you get no such “incentive” like “Overtime” or “Extra Duty Pay” – because a ‘Military Man’ is supposed to be on duty 24/7 – round the clock – round the year.

And sometimes – like Parkinson’s Law – you land up spending more time and effort on your “bum job” rather than on your primary duty.

And – that is exactly what happened to me – because – I was taking over in rather unusual circumstances.

My predecessor had been peremptorily ‘sacked’ for ‘gross mismanagement’ of the canteen.

The audit board had passed stinging remarks about his carelessness in inventory management  and – laxity in maintaining financial accounts  owing to which – there were huge errors in the balance sheet.

And – this had resulted in the sacking of “Chairman CSD Canteen” – a senior Major with around 15 years service.

Sadly – it was the “end of the road” as far as his career was concerned – since this episode would certainly impact his ACR (Annual Confidential Report) – which was the critical final ACR before his promotion board for the rank of Lieutenant Colonel – which was likely to scheduled next year.

When I went to take over charge of the CSD Canteen from him – the senior Major who had been sacked said to me bitterly:

“You better be careful. Please make sure that you don’t delegate anything to the Canteen Manager…”

“Yes, Sir…” I said.

On hearing my “Yes, Sir” – the Major said to me:

“Don’t just say “Yes Sir” to me.

Listen to my advice – so that you don’t make the same mistake that I made.

I left everything to that bloody Canteen Manager.

That idiot is a clueless clot – and he screwed up everything big time.

And – just imagine – my promotion board is next year.

But now – the big boss is so angry at this screw-up – that he is sure to bugger my ACR – and I can forget about my promotion.

Just imagine – all my good professional work has come to zero because of this “bum job” of running the canteen…” he said with angry sadness in his eyes.

His rant proved what I had said earlier.

In the “Peacetime” Defence Services – “Bum Jobs” were more important than your primary main duties.

“Bum Jobs” like Wardroom/Officers Mess Secretary are most dangerous.

If there is a “SNAFU” in some important event like Ship’s Anniversary/Raising Day/Navy Week events – or some “faux pas” involving a “VIP/VVIP” where the “VIP/VVIP” gets annoyed – your goose can be cooked pretty fast.

(The military jargon “SNAFU” is the acronym for “Situation Normal, All Fouled Up” 

SNAFU means to bungle something or create chaos)

I thought about it.

It was ironical.

A “slip-up” in your main job may be condoned.

But – a SNAFU in these “bum jobs” could be fatal to your career.

This was the all important “Defence Management” Lesson No. 3

“Defence Management” – Lesson No. 3

IN “PEACETIME SOLDIERING” – YOUR SECONDARY DUTIES (“BUM JOBS”) ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOUR PRIMARY DUTIES

Before we proceed further – let us recap the 3 “Defence Management” Lessons we learnt so far:

  1. For Brainstorming – You Must Have “Brains” To “Storm”
  1. You Have To Be “Jack of All Trades” And “Master of One”
  1. Your Secondary Duties (“Bum Jobs”) Are More Important Than Your Primary Duties

BUSINESS ACUMEN, MILITARY APTITUDE and ZERO ERROR SYNDROMES

And now – let me generalize and pontificate a bit.

Soldiers are misfits in business.

Business Acumen and Military Aptitude are stark opposites.

In fact – Business Acumen and Military Aptitude are mutually exclusive.

You can either be a Businessman or you can be a Soldier – but you cannot be both.

Of course – you will find some “businessmen” among soldiers (who create scams).

And – you may also find some “soldiers” among businessmen (who create business fiascos).

But – that is another story.

You will tell me that during World War 2 – a number of businessmen were drafted into the American (US) and British (Royal) Army/Navy/Air Force – and they distinguished themselves in war-fighting.

But that was war.

And the “civilians” who fought in the war were enrolled as reservists just to fight the war – and once the war was over – they were demobilized and they went back to running their businesses.

I am talking of the full-time regular professional officers who “fight” during peacetime and spend most of their career in “peacetime soldiering”.

You may have heard of the “WAVY NAVY” – RNVR (Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve)/RINVR (Royal Indian Naval Volunteer Reserve) whose officers wore “wavy” rank stripes (while Royal Navy (RN) Officers wore straight rank stripes)

You may have also heard the witty quote by a famous World War 2 “Wavy Navy” Officer of the RNVR – “the difference between the “straight navy” (RN) and “wavy-navy” (RNVR) is that the RN look after the Navy in peace-time – while the RNVR do the fighting in War…”

He was hinting that Regular (RN) Officers “fight” in “peacetime” – whereas Reservists (RNVR) fight the war – highlighting the difference between “peacetime soldiering” mainly done by Regular Officers – and “war-fighting” mainly done by the Reservists.

Another regular officer is said to have quipped after World War 2 was over:

“Now that the war is over – let us get down to some serious ‘soldiering’…”

It may sound ironical – but:

There are many officers who are more frightened of “peacetime soldiering” than “combat operations” – because – strictly from the career point of view – peacetime soldiering is more “dangerous” than combat.

Combat may cause you physical injuries – but even the smallest error in “peacetime soldiering” can ruin your career.

All it requires is just one “slip-up” on your part which is perceived as an error by your seniors.

In the Armed Forces – getting promoted is the “be all and end all” of life – since the only thing that matters in the military is your rank.

So – the biggest fear is the “supersession fear” – the fear of getting “passed over” for promotion.

This fear creates a “zero error syndrome” – and that is why most Defence Officers tend to play safe and become risk averse.

However – “careerism” is not the only reason for risk averseness and “zero error syndrome”.

There is another more important reason.

In the case of those handling sophisticated weapons and dangerous ordnance – the very nature of the job demands total perfection, absolute preciseness and zero error in your work – as even the smallest mistake or slightest risk can be disastrous.

This safety requirement necessitates that individuals have to be trained accordingly to achieve “zero error” in their work – and this “zero error syndrome” gets so imbibed and inculcated in one’s nature that it spills over to other activities as well and affects all aspects of the individual’s life.

But when you take things too far and start applying these “zero error” precepts everywhere – hilarious situations can occur – as it happened to me in the story I am going to tell you.

But – before I do that – here is “Defence Management” Lesson No. 4

You will never be rewarded for doing your job well – but if you make one small mistake – you will be penalized severely – and even your career can be jeopardized.

In the Defence Services – promotions are time-dependent.

You have to wait in the queue for your turn as per your seniority.

You cannot leap-frog and jump the queue – even if your performance is spectacular.

On the contrary – if you make even one small mistake – you will be punished – your promotion can be stopped – or you can even be demoted.

Yes – your boss can have you demoted for an error – but he cannot give you a quick promotion for good performance.

In the Armed Forces – your boss only has “negative” power to spoil your career – if you make the smallest of errors.

But – your boss has no “positive” power to “fast track” your career – if you perform exceptionally well – since promotions are based on rules and regulations.

No wonder – the “zero error syndrome” prevails.

So – it is better to play safe and ensure “zero error” – rather than risk your career by taking initiative and try to do something new and innovative.

Why “make waves”…?

Why “rock the boat”…?

It is best to maintain “status quo”.

So – that is “Defence Management” Lesson No. 5

Defence Management” Lesson No. 5

Don’t “Make Waves” – Don’t “Rock the Boat” – Never Take “Initiative” – Never Try to Do Something “New” or “Innovative” – Just Maintain “Status Quo”

Oh – I have digressed.

Now – let me get back to my story.

If you are familiar with army or military life – you will know that a CSD Canteen is a “departmental store” for all kinds of provisions and liquor which are available at discounted rates.

Those days – in IAT – the CSD Canteen was located in a dilapidated barrack.

Mao Tse Tung has said:

“One Look is better than a Thousand Reports” 

In the evening – I personally went to the CSD Canteen to have a firsthand look.

This is how the system operated.

There was a glass showcase outside – and – in this showcase there were displayed – one sample piece of each item available in the Canteen with the code number pasted on it.

You wrote down the code numbers and quantities of the items you wanted to buy.

Then – you gave the list to cashier.

The cashier made a manual bill (remember story this happened in the 1980’s much before the advent of PCs and “computerization”).

Once the bill was ready – you paid the money in advance – and – the cashier stamped “PAID” on your bill with a rubber stamp.

Then – you took the bill marked “PAID” inside the Canteen and gave it to the “salesman” standing at the counter.

The salesman took the list and picked up items from the boxes and shelves inside the warehouse – in case he did not find an item – he used his “initiative” and substituted it with a similar item “in lieu”.

For example – if you wanted a certain brand of soap – and the salesmen could not locate that particular brand – he gave you another brand – and – no once complained – because the CSD Canteen Guys were doing you a huge “favour” – and there was no other place to go in that desolate place.

This “in lieu” business had resulted in chaos in inventory management since there was a gross mismatch between the items billed and items actually sold – and – in trying to “adjust” things – the balance sheet had gone awry – and my predecessor had been peremptorily ‘sacked’ for ‘gross mismanagement’ of the canteen.

I thought about it.

The best way to “run” the unit CSD Canteen was to shut it down.

That way – nothing would be procured – nothing would be stocked – and – nothing would be sold – and – obviously – there would be no room for error.

Yes – in order to achieve “Zero Error” – the best way to manage inventory is to have no inventory

However – “Zero Inventory Management” was not possible – since the powers-that-be would surely not agree to shut down the unit CSD Canteen.

So – I decided to adopt a strategy of “Zero Footfall Inventory Management”

Now – achieving the ideal situation of “Zero Footfalls” was difficult.

So – we focused on “How to Minimize the Number of Customers” to the Unit CSD Canteen and reduce “footfalls” to the bare minimum.

How we did it – I will tell you in soon in my blog.

“DEFENCE MANAGEMENT” LESSONS IN A NUTSHELL

Till then – let me summarize the “Defence Management” Lessons elucidated above:

  1. For Brainstorming – You Must Have “Brains” To “Storm”
  1. You Have To Be “Jack of All Trades” and “Master of One”
  1. Your Secondary Duties (“Bum Jobs”) Are More Important Than Your Primary Duties
  1. You will never be rewarded for doing your job well – but if you make one small mistake – you will be penalized severely – and even your career can be jeopardized
  1. Don’t “Make Waves” – Don’t “Rock the Boat” – Never “Volunteer” – Never Take “Initiative” and Try to Do Something “New” or “Innovative” – Just Maintain “Status Quo”… Yes – Don’t “Make Waves” – Just Maintain “Status Quo”
  1. One Look is better than a Thousand Reports
  1. “Zero” Inventory Management – The Best way to “Manage” Inventory is to have Zero Inventory.
  1. “Customer Relationship Management” – the “Zero Paradigm” – If you have zero customers – your will have zero problems in customer relationship management.
  1. Business Acumen and Military Aptitude are stark opposites – in fact – they are mutually exclusive. You can either be a Businessman – or – you can be a Soldier – but you cannot be both.
  1. Once you join the Defence Services – you will start developing a “Military Brain” – and – every year of military service reduces your employability in the “Civvy Street”.  And – if you serve your entire lifetime in military uniform “serving the nation” – you may be rendered totally unemployable in the civilian world – like me. Therefore – if you want to have a “second innings” in the civilian world – get out of the military as early as possible – because – the longer you remain in uniform – the less will be your employability in the civilian world.
  1. It may sound ironical – but – there are many officers who are more frightened of “peacetime soldiering” than “combat operations” – because – strictly from the “career point of view” – peacetime soldiering may be more “dangerous” than combat. Combat may cause you physical injuries – but even the smallest error in “peacetime soldiering” can ruin your career and you will have to suffer the stigma of “supersession”.
  1. To be “successful” you must excel at “fighting” your peers during peacetime – since you will be spending most of your their career in “peacetime soldiering” – you must remember that “fighting” your peers and “outwitting” your course-mates requires a canny skill different from fighting the enemy. Remember the witty quip of a careerist officer after World War 2 was over: “Now that the war is over – let us get down to some serious ‘soldiering’…”

To be continued in Part 2…

VIKRAM KARVE

Copyright © Vikram Karve
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© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Disclaimer:

  1. This story is a fictional spoof, satire, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
  2. These are my personal views, written in a humorous vein, for readers with a sense of humor, to be taken lightly, and these personal musings do not constitute career guidance advice. Please choose your career after carrying out your own due diligence.
  3. 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) 

Link to my original post in my Blog Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2017/02/humor-in-uniform-management-wisdom-that.html

This is an abridged and revised repost of my articles posted online by me Vikram Karve earlier in my various blogs including at urls: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2016/03/humor-in-uniform-defence-management.html and https://karve.wordpress.com/2016/06/20/did-defence-management-make-me-unemployable/ and  https://karve.wordpress.com/2017/09/25/management-lessons-i-learnt-in-the-military-humor-in-uniform/and  http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2016/06/humor-in-uniform-why-i-am-unemployable.html

How to enjoy life in the Military – and beyond – after retirement : The 7 P’s of Military Life and Retirement

September 5, 2018

You must have two aims in life:

  1. To get what you want (your “goal”)
  2. Once you get what you want – to enjoy it.

Many youngsters have an aim to join the Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force).

But once they join the Military – do they enjoy life in uniform…?

Here are some tips on how to enjoy life in the Military – and beyond – after retirement.

The 7 P’s of Military Life and Retirement

PROLOGUE

FOR BUSY EYES ONLY

Many years ago – when I was a young Officer in the Navy – I was asked to conduct a detailed “Technical Study” and submit a report with my recommendations.

I went about the task with full enthusiasm and sincerity and produced a 100 page report.

“What the hell is this…?” shouted the Commodore in Headquarters to whom I submitted the report.

“The Technical Study Report, Sir…” I mumbled.

“Do you think anyone is going to read all that stuff…? People are busy out here…” the Commodore said, “You condense your report.”

“Sir, I have written a summary…” I said – and I showed him the summary at the beginning of the report.

“Three bloody pages…? I told you that people are busy around here. Do you think anyone has the time to read 3 pages…? Just condense the bloody thing into one paragraph and put it right on top. Just tell us what you want us to do – your recommendations – that’s all. Do you understand…?” the Commodore bellowed.

“Aye, Aye, Sir…” I said.

“Give the heading “FOR BUSY EYES ONLY” – and type your recommendations in a bold large font – and – insert it right on top – as the first page – and use pink paper…” the Commodore said.

“Pink Paper…?” I said, dumbfounded.

“Yes – everyone will notice it easily – and – they will not waste their time. I told you that people are busy around here…” he said, “just go to my PA – my staff will help you out.”

One hour later – I resubmitted my report – with the pink insert “FOR BUSY EYES ONLY” listing just 7 recommendations.

The Commodore read the pink page.

He looked at me and said: “Well Done.”

Then – with a flash of his pen – he approved the report.

Then – he threw the report in his “OUT TRAY” – for necessary action.

The Commodore then invited me for a glass of beer – as a reward for a job well done.

Now – Dear Reader – I know you are very busy – so – as taught by the Commodore – I am going to give you the gist of my self-help article in 7 points (FOR BUSY EYES ONLY)

ARE THINKING OF JOINING THE DEFENCE SERVICES…?

OR –  ARE YOU THINKING OF MARRYING A DEFENCE OFFICER…? 

THEN – DON’T WORRY ABOUT THESE 7 P’s: 

  1. PAY 
  2. PROMOTION 
  3. POSTING 
  4. POWER 
  5. PELF 
  6. PATRONAGE 
  7. PENSION

That – in a nutshell – was for “Busy Eyes”.

But – if you have the inclination – and – the time – to delve a bit more – do read on…


GUIDE FOR DEFENCE SERVICES OFFICERS (PROSPECTIVE MILITARY WIVES) AND MILITARY VETERANS

The 7 P’s of Military Life and Retirement
Musings of a Navy Veteran
A Spoof
By
VIKRAM KARVE 

If a military aspirant asks me: “How much Pay do you get in the Armed Forces…?” – I advise him not to join the Defence Services – since the Military is not a place for money-minded individuals who would be better off in other money-making professions.

The same applies to prospective Military Wives too – if you are money-minded type – it is best to avoid marrying a military man.

Apart from money – there are other aspects too – which I have mentioned in this article.

Sometime ago – last year, I think – I met an anxious Army Officer worried about his career prospects.

The Officer was a Sapper from the Corps of Engineers.

He was worried about his promotion prospects in view of a recently introduced Command Exit Model Promotion Policy (as he described it).

In fact – during their careers – the factor that causes tremendous anxiety to most Defence Officers is “Promotion” to the Next Rank – since – in the Armed Forces – Rank means everything.

Military Veterans are worried about One-Rank-One-Pension (OROP) – and – even after the notification – there is dissatisfaction – and the OROP agitation continues.

Last year – the 7th Central Pay Commission (7 CPC) Recommendations were announced – and in the 7 CPC recommendations too – many “Faujis” feel that the Defence Services have been given a raw deal as compared to the Civil Services.

There are frequent reports of litigation by Armed Forces Personnel and Veterans in Tribunals and Courts – mostly regarding promotion and money issues.

In general – a perception is developing that “Faujis” and Veterans are getting a raw deal – and – this is creating negative vibes about the Defence Services.

This prompts me to delve into my “Self Help” Archives – and pull out this article I wrote many years ago – but – which I feel is still most relevant for military officers and veterans – especially in the present circumstances.

Do read these tips if you are an aspirant “Fauji” – or – you are prospective “Faujan” thinking of marrying a “Fauji”.

Of course – I feel that these self-help tips may be useful for those still serving – and for retired veterans too.

HOW TO ENJOY YOUR MILITARY CAREER and RETIREMENT AS A MILITARY VETERAN

The 7 P’s of Military Life – Self Help for “Faujis” “Faujans” and Veterans by Vikram Karve

On page 58 of his war memoir “Himalayan Blunder”  (The Curtain Raiser to the Sino-Indian War of 1962) Brigadier John Parashuram Dalvi narrates an amusing story.

This anecdote pertains to the ill-fated “forward policy” which happened in NEFA (Arunachal Pradesh) sometime in 1960.

Indian Army Troops were being hastily rushed up into the Himalayan Mountains towards the China Border without any administrative or logistic arrangements.

A Commanding Officer of an Infantry Battalion  a Lieutenant Colonel famous for his pungent wit and sense of humour – he got so fed up with the absence of any sort of supply system – that he decided to use some heavy sarcasm and act in a facetious manner.

He is reported to have sent one of his monthly routine reports on a chapati (a flat unleavened Indian Bread).

This caused some consternation in the Rear Head Quarters and the officer was asked to forward his “explanation”.

In reply – the Commanding Officer sent the now classic retort:

“I regret the unorthodox nature of my stationery  but atta (wheat flour) is the only commodity available for fighting, for feeding and for futile correspondence”.

I remember someone once telling us that the commanding officer who sent this hilarious reply was none other than General Eric Vas [Lt Gen EA Vas (15 May 1923-18 Aug 2009)].

If my memory serves me right  I think it was the very same General Eric Vas who  in one of his pep talk speeches to young officers of all the 3 Services at IAT Pune many years ago  advised us:

If you want to enjoy life in the military you should not bother about 3 things:

  1. PAY
  1. PROMOTION
  1. POSTING

(He called them the 3 P’s)

I think this dictum of not bothering about the 3 P’s applies across the board – to all careers – including those in the private sector.

This truism certainly applies to the defence services – and maybe the civil services as well.

Part 1

TO ENJOY MILITARY LIFE DO NOT BOTHER ABOUT THE 3 P’s – PAY, PROMOTION, POSTING

PAY

Many of us focus too much on money and perks (pay or salary or “package” or CTC – call it what you like).

Nowadays, most elite educational institutions boast of the high salary packages their students are offered in campus placement interviews and it seems that pay is the primary consideration for selecting a job.

In my time too – I found so many of my colleagues comparing their PAY with others and getting disheartened and disillusioned.

Even now – after announcement of 7 CPC Recommendations – Defence Services are comparing their Pay with the Civil Services and feeling unhappy.

Comparing your pay with others is a sure shot formula to feel miserable – because it is a natural tendency to compare with someone who is better-off than you.

If you want to feel unhappy and frustrated – all you have to do is to live a comparative and competitive life.

So – if you want to be happy in the Defence Services – do not worry about your Pay.

PROMOTION

Are you an ambitious careerist who is indulges in an all-out no-holds-barred competition for PROMOTION…?

Ambition is like Ringworm.

The more you scratch – the more you enjoy the sensation – but the ringworm increases too.

Every officer wants to get promoted.

But – if you are cutthroat ambitious type – and getting promoted is the “be-all and end-all” of your life – you may go higher up in the ladder – but your life will be stressful – and you may not be able to enjoy the everyday joys which Military Life has to offer.

And one day – due to steep hierarchical pyramid in the defence services – you are likely to be passed over for promotion and superseded.

If you are overambitious type – supersession may make you bitter and frustrated – and you may even waste your time fighting the system – which will make you even more bitter.

I have seen so many officers – some quite senior – who retire with anger, resentment and bitterness – because they were not promoted to high rank.

In the defence services – it is a fact of life that career progress is slow – and your chances of promotion to higher ranks is quite slim.

In a liberalized democracy – defence services can never match the industry – or even the civil services – in compensation packages and career prospects.

And this gap is only going to increase with more and more liberalization and globalization and with increasing civilian supremacy.

You must accept the fact – that in the Defence Services – you will have Modest Career Prospects and Moderate Pay.

That is the truth.

And – you must accept this truth.

If you want faster promotions, better career prospects and more pay – it is better for you to go and join some other profession.

But – if you are in the Army, Navy or Air Force – it is best not to be excessively obsessed about promotion.

If you get promoted – well and good.

If you do not get promoted – also well and good.

Be happy and enjoy the unique inimitable unmatched lifestyle the defence services have to offer.

POSTING

In the Army and Air Force they call it POSTING – in the Navy they call it TRANSFER – but  frequent relocation is an inescapable part of a career in the defence forces.

Everyone gets posted or transferred.

A sure-shot way of becoming miserable – is to compare your POSTING with your more fortunate colleagues in uniform.

By “Posting” – I mean not only the geographical location – but also the type of appointment and designation of your post.

3 P’s

In the Armed Forces – if you are worried about the 3 P’s – it is a guaranteed formula to make you frustrated and stressed out at work.

And – if you want to enjoy your work and career – you know what to do:

Just do not bother about the 3 P’s

Yes – be a happy-go-lucky “fauji” – and just don’t bother about your PAY, PROMOTION and POSTING – and you will remain cheerful and happy.

It is a fact that  if you live a non-comparative and non-competitive life  you are sure to be happy and content.

Part 2

RETIREMENT – SELF HELP GUIDE FOR MILITARY VETERANS

The 3 P’s of Retirement

Okay – so you did not bother about the 3 P’s (PAY, PROMOTION, POSTING)  and you enjoyed your service life.

But one day – you will retire – and then you will have 3 more P’s which you should not worry about.

Yes – if you want to enjoy your retired life don’t bother about these 3 P’s:

  1. POWER
  1. PELF
  1. PATRONAGE

POWER

When you retire – you lose your “position power”.

The higher your rank  the greater the loss of power. 

Many take it in their stride and enjoy their retirement – but some individuals who get addicted to power refuse to let go – and cannot cope with the loss of power – and keep hankering after power and status even after retirement – and – in the process – they make their lives miserable.

Maybe – this need for power is the main reason why some people never retire  and they want to keep working and holding on to power till their death.

And – it is patronage that gets you those plum post-retirement assignments.

PATRONAGE 

Yes – Patronage can help you get sops after retirement.

That is why you see so many senior officers behaving in a most obsequious manner in the last years of their service – toadying and fawning before politicians and bureaucrats – to cultivate powerful people and gain their patronage – in order to get one of those sought-after post-retirement jobs.

Many say that even Service Chiefs fall victim to the “patronage syndrome” in order to get good post-retirement appointments – and they seem to be looking after their own interests rather than service interests – and – some even indulge in unethical acts to please their political patrons.

This not only damages their reputations but also adversely affects their subordinates and tarnishes the name of the defence services.

PELF

Another reason why individuals cannot enjoy their retirement and want to keep on working interminably after retirement is “PELF”.

These greedy money-minded individuals are never content with their savings and pension – and they want to keep on acquiring wealth till their death (though they know that they cannot take their wealth with them to heaven or hell after their death).

“In extremis” – such pelf-oriented persons may even be ready to take up dubious wheeler-dealer jobs with euphemistic titles like “consultants” or “advisors” – which sometimes may prove “ethically counter-productive” – and ruin their reputations forever – and also tarnish the image of the service.

Retirement is Bliss – if you can forget about the 3 P’s (Power, Pelf and Patronage).

In conclusion – I would like to say that your life – especially in the defence services – boils down to 6 P’s.

Yes – in the Defence Services – if you want to enjoy life during service and after retirement – remember – do not be bothered about the 6 P’s.

DO NOT WORRY ABOUT the 6 P’s:

3 P’s while in Service (PAY, PROMOTION, POSTING)

3 P’s after Retirement (POWER, PELF, PATRONAGE)

EPILOGUE

THE 7th “P” – PENSION

I wrote this article many years ago – much before I had heard the term OROP (One Rank One Pension).

At present – the biggest issue disturbing the peace of mind of retired military veterans is OROP – which is related to Pension.

OROP is worrying serving personnel too – especially the “No OROP for PMR” Rule.

That is why I am tempted to add a 7th “P” which you should not worry about:

“PENSION”

So – to put it in a nutshell – if you are want to enjoy life in the Defence Services – or are thinking of a career in the Armed Forces – do remember the 7 P’s you should not bother about too much.

Do Not Worry about the 7 P’s: 

PAY, PROMOTION, POSTING, POWER, PELF, PATRONAGE and PENSION 

So – before you embark on a life in uniform in the Armed Forces – or marry a Military Officer – remember the 7 P’s that you should not be bothered about:

  1. PAY 
  2. PROMOTION 
  3. POSTING 
  4. POWER 
  5. PELF 
  6. PATRONAGE 
  7. PENSION 

Dear Fellow Officer (Serving and Retired):

Try it – stop worrying about these 7 P’s – and see for yourself how you can enjoy life.

It works – you can take my word for it.

Do you agree…?

Oh  you don’t…?

Please comment and tell us your views.

As always  I look forward to your feedback.

VIKRAM KARVE

Copyright © Vikram Karve
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© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Disclaimer:

  1. This is a fictional spoof, satire, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
  2. These tips are based on my own experience and represent my personal views which may not be universal in nature and may not apply to you. You must make your own career decisions with due diligence. Also, do read this post with a sense of humor.
  3. 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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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)

Link to my original post in my Blog Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2016/05/are-you-thinking-of-joining-defence.html

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

This is a revised version of my article written by me Vikram Karve in 2010 and posted online on my blogs earlier at urls: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2012/01/how-to-enjoy-your-career-3-ps.html   and  http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2012/10/the-6-ps-how-to-enjoy-life.html  and  http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2013/11/how-to-enjoy-military-life.html  and http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2013/06/navy-for-life-and-beyond-how-to-enjoy.html  and  http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2015/05/humor-in-uniform-guide-for-military.html and http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2015/11/defence-services-how-to-enjoy-your.html and https://karve.wordpress.com/2017/06/07/military-life-and-retirement-the-7-ps/ etc

Humorous Slogans

September 5, 2018

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