Humor in Uniform – Show me the Face and I will show you the Rule



Hilarious Memories of My Delightful Navy Life

A Spoof By Vikram Karve 




Once in a while – when I hark back to my glorious days in the Navy – I recall such hilarious instances that I burst out laughing.

Here is one such amusing episode – it happened around 31 years ago – in the 1980s.

I was very keen on doing the Defence Services Staff College course.

So – I studied sincerely – I prepared well – and I qualified my staff college exam with flying colours – at the first opportunity in 1986.

I had qualified in my first attempt.

Though a “merit list” was not declared – I had written all papers in the exam so well – and I was sure that I was somewhere on the top of the merit list.

Thereafter – I completed my mandatory “sea-time” appointment on a front-line warship.

It was early 1989 – and – I was sure that I would be sent for staff college that year.

After all – I had qualified the exam in my first attempt a few years ago.

Also – I had completed my mandatory sea-time.

So – I was the ideal candidate for staff college.

But to my surprise – and dismay – I found that my name did not figure in the list.

I was also taken aback – to see the names of some officers – who had cleared the exam in the second and third attempts – included in the list.

Now – it was clear to me as to why there was a reluctance to openly declare the Staff College Entrance Exam “merit list” immediately after the examination.

Those days – in the Navy – you just had to “qualify” in the exam.

“Nomination” was done by the “powers-that-be” on other factors.

Your performance in the exam – the overall marks you got – your position in merit – or whether you had passed in the first attempt or in multiple attempts – all these things did not matter in the Navy (unlike in the Army – where your performance in the exam was all that mattered for selection for staff college).

I felt that I deserved to go to staff college.

After all – I had cleared the qualifying exam in my first attempt – and I had completed my mandatory sea-time as well.

Once while we were discussing this matter during a PLD in the ship’s wardroom – the Captain and Executive Officer (XO) advised me to write a “DO Letter” to my appointer in DOP at Naval Headquarters.

So – I wrote a “DO Letter” to the concerned officer in DOP at Naval Headquarters.

A few days later – I received a classic reply whose gist was as follows:

  1. Yes – I had qualified the Staff College Entrance Exam in the first attempt – which was very creditable and praiseworthy.
  1. However – a few years ago – I had been selected by the Navy for the M. Tech. (Master of Technology) course at IIT Delhi – and I had successfully completed my M. Tech. in the year 1983.
  1. As per the existing policy – M. Tech. qualified officers were not being empanelled for staff college. The aim of this policy was to give equitable opportunity to all officers in training courses – and also – because an M. Tech. degree from an IIT was considered to be a higher qualification than the M. Sc. Degree given after staff college.
  1. Hence – I was not being sent to Staff College in the current year. 

So far – the logic given was perfectly fine.

But what followed – was a classic non sequitur” 

The letter continued…

  1. However – this policy (of not sending M. Tech. qualified officers to Staff College) – the policy may be reviewed – and – in the future – it was quite possible that some M. Tech. qualified officers may be empanelled for Staff College. 
  1. But – even if the policy is changed in the future – I would not be eligible for Staff College – since – at that future point of time – I would be too senior – and I would be out of the “seniority bracket” for empanelment for the Staff College course. 

While signing off – my appointer in DOP assured me that I was doing very well in my career – and he wished me well.

I showed this classic letter to my Ship’s Captain.

He had a hearty laugh – and he said to me:

“Bad Luck.

You have done M. Tech. so you can forget about Staff College. 

But – it looks like they want to send some “blue-eyed-boy” who has done M. Tech. – and who is junior to you – to Staff College…”

Sure enough – two years later – an M. Tech. qualified officer was sent to Staff College.

It was clear that the “policy” was indeed “tweaked” to suit that particular officer – a classic case of the dictum:

“Show Me the FACE – and I will Show You the RULE…” 

I do not know what is the policy now – maybe it has changed again – or maybe – there have been many policy “flip flops”.

But – I have seen many such examples of this “SHOW ME THE FACE – AND I WILL SHOW YOU THE RULE” “Flexible” Human Resource (HR) Management Policies to favour cronies – or “eliminate” contenders – as the case may be – or – create “lines of succession”.

Even the media has reported on various “succession battles” in the Defence Services from time to time.

It seems they have honed the art of adroit HR Management by “policy flip-flops” – the euphemism for “Flip Flop” being “Flexible”.

I am sure you too must have seen instances of “Show Me the FACE and I will Show You the RULE…” especially if you were in the Defence Services or Civil Services – or even in the Corporate Sector – and in Politics too.

In Part 2 below – I will tell you about one more instance of “Flexible” HR Management which I came across a few years later in my career.



In Part 1 – we saw an example of: SHOW ME THE FACE AND I WILL SHOW YOU THE RULE” HR Policy

A witty friend of mine who also was once a victim of another such “selective interpretation” of “flexible” HR Policy had even coined an acronym for this phenomenon.

He called it DRDO – Different Rules for Different Officers.


DRDO = Different Rules for Different Officers

And – talking of the DRDO – I must tell how I was a victim of another classic example of a Catch-22 “No-Win” Situation created by NON SEQUITUR HUMAN RESOURCE (HR) MANAGEMENT:

Long back – in the 1980s – during my first tenure at IAT Pune – I applied for permanent secondment to the DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation).

My application was promptly sent back to me – saying – that:

As per Navy Policy – Only Superseded Officers who were passed over for promotion would be spared from the Navy for permanent secondment to the DRDO”.

A few years later – I was was superseded for promotion in the Navy.

So – I applied for permanent secondment to the DRDO.

This time – since I had been “superseded” – my application was promptly recommended by the Navy – and – my application was expeditiously forwarded by the Navy to the DRDO – saying that I would be spared from the Navy for permanent secondment.

However – the DRDO sent back my application back saying that as per their policy:

“Superseded Officers were not eligible for permanent secondment to DRDO

A really great Catch-22 situation due to Non-Sequitur HR Policies – isn’t it…?

When you are eligible for DRDO – the Navy will not let you go to DRDO

And – when the Navy lets you go – DRDO says that you are not eligible 

A Classic “Catch-22” – isn’t it…?

This means that – as per the prevailing policies on that day:

It was never possible for a Naval Officer to be permanently seconded to DRDO.

Of course – everything was possible if they decided to favour someone using the DRDO (Different Rules for Different Officers) dictum.

And – the rules were suitably bent to “accommodate” the concerned individuals.

Yes – there have been cases of non-superseded officers being seconded to DRDO – and – and some cases of superseded officers too.

After all – isn’t:

DRDO = Different Rules for Different Officers…?



Whether it is the “Show Me the FACE and I will Show You the RULE” Navy Paradigm  or the Different Rules for Different Officers DRDO Dictum – “Flexible” HR Management can play havoc with your career.

But – one thing is sure.

Whenever you feel aggrieved by favouritism and some injustice has been done to you – instead of becoming bitter – it is best to look at the funny side.

Yes – humor is the best antidote to frustration and laughter is the best medicine.

A hearty laugh is an excellent safety valve to dissipate hurt, pain, bitterness and anger.

In today’s liberalized and globalized world – the Armed Forces – the Navy, the Army, and the Air Force – they may not offer bright career prospects as good as the Civilian Industry (or even the civilian bureaucracy).

But one thing is sure – the Defence Services inculcate in you a “Sense of Humor” – and – teach you to laugh – at yourself…!!!

Anyway – that is the best thing for Military Veterans to do after retirement – think of your days in uniform – and – laugh at yourself…!!!

So – I have a hearty laugh when I remember how I became a victim of two “Flexible” Human Resource (HR) Management Policies:

  1. SMFIWSYR  (Show Me the Face and I will Show You the Rule)
  1. DRDO  (Different Rules for Different Officers)

Dear Reader: Do tell us if you have seen any more such “Flexible” HR Policies in your career.

Have a Cheerful Day…!!!


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 original post in my Blog Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve:

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Revised Consolidated Extract of my Articles earlier posted by me Vikram Karve in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal Blog Posted by me Vikram Karve at 1/30/2014 12:55:00 PM at url: and earlier at url: and  and  and  and  and  etc

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