Archive for February 20th, 2019

“Politics” in Uniform

February 20, 2019

Are Military Personnel totally “apolitical”…? 

Or – is there “Politics” in Uniform…?   

Here is a story from my early Navy Days. 

This story pertains to the 1980 General Elections and happened almost 40 years ago – in end 1979/early 1980.

Humor in Uniform 

There is a misconception that military personnel are not interested in politics.

In a democracy – every citizen is entitled to vote in elections – including military personnel.

So – even military personnel have political views – and political inclinations too.

As an organisation – the military may be  “apolitical” – but – as individuals – military personnel may be “political” beings – albeit with certain restrictions – military personnel cannot form/join political parties or participate openly in political activities etc.

Here is a story from my wonderful Navy Days on “Politics” in Uniform 

This story happened almost 40 years ago – in end 1979/early 1980.

So – Dear Reader – here is some “political” humor in uniform…


Unforgettable Vignettes of my Glorious Navy Days

A Fictional Spoof By Vikram Karve


When I joined the Navy – I was told that certain things were not to be discussed in the Wardroom

(A “Wardroom” is a Navy “Officers’ Mess”…) 

Firstly – Officers should not talk “shop” (talk about work) in the Wardroom.

Secondly – Three Topics were considered “Taboo” in a Navy Wardroom:

  1. Religion
  1. Politics
  1. Women

I am sure the same was true for Army and Air Force Officers’ Messes as well – you were not supposed to talk “shop” – and you were not supposed to discuss religion, politics or women in a wardroom or officers’ mess.

But – this was all in “theory”.

In practice – in actual fact – I found that things were vastly different.

On my ship – a frontline warship of the western fleet – and in other ships and “stone frigates” (Navy Shore Establishments) too – officers invariably “talked shop” in the wardroom – even during Pre-Lunch Drinks (PLDs) and Evening Parties.

Of the three taboo topics – the first topic – “Religion” – this was never discussed – at least in our ship’s wardroom.

Yes – “Religion” was never discussed in our wardroom.

However – the third topic mentioned above – “Women” – was always a topic of great interest and discussion amongst officers – especially the younger bachelor officers.

On my ship – with so many young strapping “testosterone charged” bachelors around – the third topic (women) – this was always a hot topic of discussion.

Our ship was based in Mumbai (then called Bombay).

Those days – in the 1970’s – the Navy had a lovely laissez-faire culture –  especially in Mumbai

Yes – those glorious days of my Navy life were truly my “halcyon days” in the Navy.

Guests were freely allowed on ships.

When our ship was in harbour – after working hours – in the Evenings – and throughout the day on Sundays/Holidays – many “smart” libidinous bachelors brought girl friends (or “fleet auxiliaries”) on board our ship – for an “amorous” drink in the wardroom – or a “quickie” in their cabins – and these “peccadilloes” were hotly discussed with great excitement by the envious “sex-starved puritans” – who were secretly yearning for female company.

If you have been reading my humor in uniform stories – I am sure you have read the story of  The Fleet Auxiliary Called Semaphore Signal

Hey – Dear Reader – as usual – I have digressed – so now – let me get back to the topic – and tell you the story of “Politics” in Uniform


Towards the end of 1979 – General Elections were announced to be held in the first week of January 1980 – and suddenly – everyone started discussing politics.

Everyone seemed to be interested in the outcome of the 1980 General Elections

I was surprised to see the political awareness – and keen interest in the elections – among Naval Officers.

Of course – this may have been due to the political instability due to the disastrous performance of two successive shaky coalition governments since 1977 – which kept on splitting – till they collapsed – and elections were announced after 2 years.

Or maybe – this interest in politics was because we had many “politically connected” officers on board.

The father of one of the young officers was a veteran politician – and he was contesting this election too.

The brother of another officer was a politician too – and he was also contesting elections – albeit from a different party.

Many other officers evinced keen interest in current affairs and held divergent political views – which led to lively discussions.

Yes – politics was definitely discussed in the wardroom.

However – there was one officer who showed absolutely no interest in the proceedings – he seemed totally “apolitical”.

The “apolitical” officer came down to the wardroom every evening to drink.

In fact – it seemed that he had joined the Navy to drink booze.

Like – some people “live to eat” – this “apolitical” officer – he “lived to drink”.

While everyone was engrossed in animated “political discussions” – he would sit disinterestedly in the corner downing peg after peg of Scotch whisky.

Voting day was in the first week of the coming January (January 1980)

And – as the elections approached – some of us got our postal ballots – and we quickly voted and dispatched our postal votes to the respective returning officers – but – some of us did not get our postal ballots (or got them too late after counting was over).

(Those days Postal Ballots were the only way a Service Voter could cast his vote – but now – there are many other options too like voting by proxy (Classified Service Voter or CSV) or Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System (ETPB) or the Service Personnel can enrol at his place of posting and vote on election day by going to the election booth like a civilian citizen.

Nowadays – thanks to technology and political awareness – most military personnel are able to vote in elections quite easily.)

To get back to my story – as the elections approached – some of us got our postal ballots – and we quickly voted and dispatched our postal votes to the respective returning officers.

Sadly – some of us did not get our postal ballots (or got them too late after counting was over) – and missed voting in the elections.

Outside – in the civilian world – political temperatures were getting heated up – and inside the wardroom too – there took place rousing political discussions – stimulated by the imbibing of enormous amounts of alcohol.

Of course – our “apolitical” officer shipmate kept aloof.

The “apolitical” officer remained indifferent to the political goings on – despite imbibing even greater amounts of alcohol than the “political” officers.

Yes – we noticed that the “apolitical” officer was drinking more booze than usual.

Maybe – the “apolitical” officer was getting irritated by the incessant political discussions going on the wardroom – and he was drinking more whisky to soothe his irritation – to dissolve his exasperation in alcohol.

At last – voting took place.

The next day – counting of votes began.

(Those days – they had single day elections – and – votes were counted the next day)

Since they used paper ballots those days – the counting process was slow – and – the early trends started coming in only by late afternoon – and – it was only in the late evening that the first hints of the political picture would start to emerge.

In the evening – carrying our “whisky-topped” hip-flasks in our pockets – we trooped down to the Indian Express Building at Nariman Point – to watch the election results unfold.

Late at night – it became clear that Indira Gandhi was heading for a massive victory.

(Her party – Congress (I) – would win 353 of the 542 seats)

Most of us were happy – because now – there would be a stable government for 5 years.

The two “politically connected” officers were happy too – their relatives – father and brother respectively – both had won in the elections too.

A celebration was called for – so the wardroom bar was opened – the moment we returned back onboard ship – at around midnight.

The “whiff” of the wardroom bar being opened mysteriously – the enticing aroma of liquor – it reached the “apolitical” officer sleeping in his cabin.

So – the “apolitical” officer joined us in a jiffy – topping up his glass with whisky to celebrate.

“There was so much political excitement going on during these elections – and you were totally disinterested in the elections…” someone said to the “apolitical” officer.

“Actually – I was worried about the results of the elections…” the “apolitical” officer said to us.

“Worried…? You were worried…? You were worried about the results of the elections…?” we asked him – feeling totally puzzled.

The “apolitical” officer took a gulp of whisky – and he said to us:

“I was worried about my Booze.

The previous guy was a “prohibitionist”. 

He even wanted to stop booze in the Defence Services. 

And – he wanted give us Dry Fruits “in lieu” of Liquor.

I am happy he has lost the elections. 

The new guys who have won – hopefully – they will let booze flow freely.

Come on.


Drink up.

The next round of drinks is on me…” 

And so – we celebrated the results of the elections.


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


  1. This story is a fictional 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. 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 source blog post in my Blog Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve:

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

This Story was written by me around 5 years ago in April 2014 and earlier Posted Online by me Vikram Karve in this blog at 4/13/2014 03:21:00 PM at url:  and  and and and and and

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I had never expected so many people to come to my funeral to bid me “goodbye”.

My family, my relatives, my friends – I had expected them to attend my funeral.

But – I had not expected so many of my “online” friends to attend my “real life” funeral.

My “online” friends – from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, Blogger, WordPress etc – so many “online” friends had come to attend my funeral.

My dear “online” friends – I was meeting them for the first time – at my funeral.

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