Posts Tagged ‘army’

ECHS Pune – Mismanagement Woes

July 13, 2016

Topical Article on Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) Mismanagement Woes in Pune affecting Healthcare of Military Veterans and Families of Ex-Servicemen (ESM)

Source: Where has ECHS gone wrong?

Article is also reproduced below for your convenience from url:  http://www.aviation-defence-universe.com/echs-gone-wrong/ 

Where has ECHS gone wrong…? 

ECHS

  • Unable to pay hospitals their dues
  • Is treatment of ex-servicemen and their families becoming a liability to the MOD?

By Sangeeta Saxena

New Delhi. 10 June 2016. Today it is Pune, tomorrow it will be somewhere else and for all one knows there could be many more such Ruby Halls  already existing in the country. Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) cashless facilities have been discontinued to beneficiaries due to an outstanding of over Rs. 5.50 Crores  from 01-06-16.

Speaking to ex-servicemen  and by the virtue belonging to a family of one I realised only those living in Delhi and Chandigarh were happy with the ECHS Polyclinics and empaneled hospitals, the others had sordid tales of woe to tell.

It is pathetic to see that a scheme which started with goodwill and welfare should come to such a condition. Is ECHS finding it difficult to serve the ex-servicemen and their families? Is there a crunch in finances that it is making it difficult  to pay the dues to empaneled hospitals and is there a lack of cash at the Polyclinics level to procurement medicines both routine and life saving?

Non availability of funds with the MD ECHS has had a cascading adverse effect on planning and execution of healthcare of ECHS members. Super Specialty Hospitals and other good hospitals are not offering themselves to be empanelled because of the non clearance of their bills in time.  Suggestion was given by ex servicemen  to MD ECHS to clear 50 percent of the hospital bills within one week of receipt of the bills and remaining 50 percent be cleared within 30 days, after due evaluation, analysis and verification.  Ex servicemen  are told that such a proposal is lying with Secy DESW for a considerable time for approval.

A large number of good Super Specialty Hospitals initially empanelled with ECHS, have withdrawn for want of clearance of their bills and the remaining empanelled hospitals are also under financial stress and on the verge of discontinuing empanelment.    The required funds need to be released well in time to ensure smooth execution ECHS.

ECHS  was launched with effect from 01 April 2003. The Scheme aims to provide allopathic Medicare to Ex-servicemen pensioner and their dependents through a network of ECHS Polyclinics, Service medical facilities and civil empanelled/Govt hospitals spread across the country. The Scheme has been structured on the lines of CGHS to ensure cashless transactions, as far as possible, for the patients and is financed by the Govt of India.

ECHS is a flagship Scheme of the Ministry of Defence, Department of Ex-Servicemen Welafre. The aim of Scheme is to provide quality healthcare of Ex-servicemen pensioners and their dependents. As on date, a total of 13,48,517 Ex-servicemen have enlisted with the Scheme along with 30,03,577 dependents. Total beneficiaries of the Scheme, thus amount to 43,52,094.

Policy framework for the Scheme is laid down by the Governmentt and executive control is exercised by the Department of Ex-servicemen Welfare. The Scheme is managed through the existing infrastructure of the Armed Forces so as to minimize the administrative expenditure. The existing infrastructure includes command and control structure, spare capacity of Service Medical facilities (Hospitals and Medical Inspection Rooms), procurement organization for medical and non-medical equipment, Defence land and buildings etc. Station Commanders assisted by Senior Executive Medical Officers (SEMO) exercise direct control over the ECHS Polyclinics.

The Central Organisation ECHS is located at Delhi and functions under the Chiefs of Staff Committee through the Adjutant General in the Integrated Headquarters of Ministry of Defence (Army). The Central Organisation is headed by a Managing Director, a serving Major General.

There are nearly 30  Regional Centres sanctioned by the Govt and ECHS Polyclinics are designed to provide ‘Out Patient Care’ which includes consultation, essential investigation and provision of medicines. Specialized consultations, investigations and ‘In Patient Care’ (Hospitalization) is provided through spare capacity available in Service hospitals and through civil hospitals empanelled with ECHS. Polyclinics are categorized as Type A to E based on the number of Ex-servicemen residing in that area.

The beneficiary reports to the ECHS Polyclinic and registers with his/her smart card at the reception and is allocated a Medical Officer (MO). In case of OPD patient the MO prescribes medicines which may be obtained from the pharmacy of the polyclinic. In case of in-patient treatment, the beneficiary is referred by the MO to a Service hospital, in case the polyclinic is in Military station. In case of non-availability of bed in Service hospital, the patient is referred back to the polyclinic for referral to an empanelled hospital. Once referred, the patient gets treated from the empanelled facility on a cashless basis. The empanelled facility processes the claim online/manually after the patient is discharged . In case of polyclinics located in non-Military station, the OIC refers the patient to the nearest Service hospital/empanelled facility.

The ECHS currently has over 40 lakh beneficiaries. This number is going to steadily increase in the future and is expected to stabilize at 65 lakhs by 2020. So where has the ECHS gone wrong? It started with a great aim but somewhere down the lane lost the focus. Or is the growing ex-servicemen fraternity so large that ECHS cannot bear the costs of treatment in private hospitals? Perhaps it can learn a lesson or two from its better run big brother CGHS.

Above Article reproduced from url below for reading convenience of military veterans :  http://www.aviation-defence-universe.com/echs-gone-wrong/

OLQ for Military Officers

September 25, 2015

Source: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2015/09/olq-officer-like-qualities-in-nutshell.html

Link to my original post in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal:
http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201…

OFFICER LIKE QUALITIES (OLQ) IN A NUTSHELL

The OROP (One Rank One Pension) imbroglio is resulting in many ramifications – many unintended.

Before the OROP issue came to the forefront – most “faujis” and veterans were not aware that the “Top Brass” of the Defence Services were availing OROP by virtue of being in the “Apex Scale”.

In an article titled THE BITTER TRUTH ABOUT OROP a retired IAS Officer revealed that senior bureaucrats and armed forces top brass who retire in the “Apex Scale” would get OROP – that is, their pensions would always be linked to whatever revised Apex Scale the subsequent Pay Commissions decided. The Apex Scale has also been provided to the 3 Service Chiefs and many Lt Gens/Equivalents in Navy/Air Force – so this article implied that all these senior ranking officers are already getting OROP. The author aptly commented: “This may perhaps explain why we have not heard the top echelons of the forces coming out in public support of the demand for universal OROP”.

(Here is the link to the above article: The bitter truth about OROP

Since Generals have not denied the remarks in the above article so far – it is obvious that many retired Generals are getting OROP – and serving Generals/Equivalents will also get OROP irrespective of the outcome of the OROP protests.

Most veterans were aghast that many Generals/Equivalents were availing OROP while their junior officers and soldiers were deprived of OROP.

Is this not a violation of line 2 and 3 of the Chetwode Motto:

“The safety, honour and welfare of your country come first, always and every time.
The honour, welfare and comfort of the men you command come next.
Your own ease, comfort and safety come last, always and every time.”

As per the Chetwode Motto – the Military Leadership (comprising Generals/Admirals/Air Marshals and other high ranking Top Brass) should have ensured that their men got OROP before taking OROP themselves.

But the Military Leadership did not do so – and they selfishly took OROP themselves – and as the author implies – since they are entitled for OROP themselves – the military top brass has not come out in support of OROP for their junior officers and soldiers.

Such selfish actions by senior officers lowers their credibility in the eyes of their juniors and military veterans – and even in the eyes of the common citizen

One wonders whether the concept of OLQ (Officer Like Qualities) exists in the Defence Services nowadays – or has OLQ become an antiquated concept which has been junked in the Armed Forces.

All this reminded me of a letter written by an erstwhile Army Chief to all Officers – which I had posted long ago in my blog.

So – let me delve into my blog – and pull out this post for you to read once again.

Long back – nearly 30 years ago – in 1986 – when I was on the faculty of IAT Pune – an Army colleague showed me an open letter his Chief General K Sundarji  had written to all army officers.

It was an open letter – exhorting each and every officer to live up to the high standards of professionalism, élan and values expected of each and every officer (“officer like qualities”).

It was a very inspiring letter – and it left a lasting impression on me.

Later – I searched for it on the internet and I found just one link – yes – just one link – to this famous letter.

We must thank that one person for preserving this motivating piece in cyberspace for posterity.

Though this letter was written almost 30 years ago – in Feb 1986 – I feel that this inspiring letter is most relevant today when the Indian Army is going through difficult times – especially on the moral and ethical front.

In these challenging times – it may be apt for all officers – senior and junior – to read this inspiring letter, ponder on the various points discussed, introspect and reflect on the reasons for the falling standards of OLQ (Officer Like Qualities) in the Defence Services – and take corrective action and aim for self-improvement and upholding service values and ethos.

In the context of OROP – as mentioned in para 8 of the letter – had the “running pay band” concept granted by the 4th Pay Commission been continued and extended to all ranks – the present OROP imbroglio could have been avoided.

But instead of strengthening and improving upon this excellent “integrated pay scale” concept which delinked pay from rank – this superb “running pay band” concept was scrapped – and now we have the OROP issue which is getting worse day by day.

I think it will be a good idea to re-issue this classic letter to all officers once more – especially for the benefit of those senior officers who seem to forgotten the Chetwode Motto and put self before service.

I am giving the url link below – and also – for your convenience – I am also posting the letter below for you to read.

(Courtesy Commander Debashis Mukherjee’s Website url: General K Sundarji)

OPEN LETTER BY THE ARMY CHIEF GENERAL K SUNDARJI TO ALL OFFICERS OF THE INDIAN ARMY

General K Sundarji, PVSM, ADC
Army Headquarters, New Delhi-110 001
1 Feb 86

Dear Brother Officer,

1. It is imperative that we have a totally combat effective Army to support the revitalised India of tomorrow in her rightful place in the world. This involves getting the ‘man-machine mix’ just right, improving the quality of both and placing them in a structure which will be effective in the battlefield milieu of the Nineties and the early decades of 2000. It is an exercise as exciting as it is challenging and I am fully confident that we will succeed.

2. Briefly mentioning the ‘machine’, we have thus far modernised only by discrete changes of weapons systems and equipment. We were also dependent mostly on imported equipment, which apart from not being designed to suit our exact requirements, were also not ‘state of the art’ and at least a generation behind those used by more modern armies. Much of this has changed and is fast changing. Our R & D has come of age and having had a close look at the scene for some years, I can assure you that we are on the verge of take-off. There are still some problems of translation of R & D into production, but these are also being solved fast. Therefore, the time has now come for us to take a total look at technology, threats, tactics and organisations in order to restructure our Army and develop doctrine for the future. This is in hand, and want each one of you to be involved in the process.

3. However, no amount of modernisation of arms, equipment, tactics and organisations can produce results unless we have the right kind of man in the right state of mind, manning the system. And that is what this letter of mine is about.

4. The fact that the Army is one of the national institutions which has, comparatively speaking, weathered the post-independence years and yet remains effective, should not make us complacent. Field Marshal Cariappa used to say, “Good officers – good Army; bad officers – bad Army”. This is as true today as it was then. We should, therefore look at ourselves first and be not only frank but hypercritical. As a whole, the Corps of Officers has lost much of its self esteem, pride and élan; it is becoming increasingly careerist, opportunist and sycophantic; standards of integrity have fallen and honour and patriotism are becoming unfashionable. Paradoxically, all this is happening, while in the narrow sense, professional competence has been going up at all levels since 1947. Broad-based though our intake has become, our young officers have proved in every action which they have fought, that they are brave and lead from the front – our officer casualty ratio in every action testifies to this. Where then, are we going wrong?

5. First, let us look at ourselves — the senior officers; most of us are senior to some of the others and so this includes almost all of us. We have obviously NOT set the right example. Many of us have not professionally kept ourselves up-to-date, doctrinally or technologically; we have felt that that we have ‘got it made’, and rested on our oars; we do not read enough; we do not think enough, and some of course, have been promoted well beyond their capability! In the practise of our profession, we have not insisted on standards being maintained and turn our eyes away from irregularities (living in a glass house?); we have not been tolerant of dissent during discussion and encourage sycophancy (a result of our having ‘switched off’ professionally?) we have not been accepting any mistakes (due to hankering after personal advancement?), thus encouraging our juniors to either do nothing worthwhile or to oversupervise their juniors, who in turn are not allowed to develop professionally or mature as men. This leads to frustration. Finally, some have perhaps unthinkingly developed a yen for 5-star culture and ostentation which flows from new-rich values in our society, where money is the prime indicator of success and social position. This adoption of mercenary values in an organisation like the Army which depends for its élan on values like honour, duty and country above self, is disastrous for its élan and for the self-esteem of the individual in it. Andonce we start thinking of ourselves as third class citizens, it is not long before our civilian brethren take us at our own valuation, and some of them perhaps not without a touch of glee!

6. I am not suggesting that woefully inadequate pay and poor compensation packages for hard and turbulent service conditions, and being forced to live slummily with a poor quality of life do not prevent the development of élan and self-esteem. They do. It is also a fact that the overall compensation package of the servicemen is poor and has deteriorated rapidly over the years. So is it a fact that the present dispensation is inequitable as far as the armed forces are concerned as compared to their peers in other government services. These facts have been brought forcefully to the notice of the Pay Commission and the Government and I will continue to press hard for a fair and equitable deal. I would also like to add that all my contacts with the authorities so far, have convinced me that they are sympathetically aware of our problems. The Prime Minister himself is aware of the psychological problems caused by the unwarranted and continued degradation of service officers in the Warrant of Precedence. He has ordered that this problem be analysed and put up to him. But to tell you all this is not the purpose of this letter; I want to dwell on what we can do, in-house, to increase the élan and self-esteem of the Officer Corps.

7. The bed-rock of élan is the professional competence of individuals and leaders, and the faith, confidence and pride in the effectiveness of the group – the section upwards, to the Army as a whole. In developing professional competence, I would like to emphasise developing an active technological curiosity without which one cannot cope with the battlefield of tomorrow. I want that we read more and seriously, think more and seriously, discuss more and seriously and write more and seriously about professional matters. This last, has been inhibited by our exaggerated and self-defeating system of security classifications and centralised clearance requirements. I intend putting this right speedily. As regards developing group effectiveness, we have to do much more towards making our training mission-oriented, interesting, competitive and effective inspite of the various constraints of which we are well aware. We should certainly avoid training for training’s sake which not only gets to be boring but moves further and further away from the realities of battle conditions. Let us not get to the mentality of the British Colonel of the regular army who is said to have remarked on 11 Nov 1918,“Thank God the war is over; now we can get back to some serious soldiering”!

8. All of us talk about ‘Officer Like Qualities’ and about being officers and gentlemen. I am not sure whether to many of us these terms means the same thing. Being a gentlemen does not mean Westernisation and becoming a poor imitation of a ‘White Sahib’; it does not mean a tie and a jacket or the ability to handle a knife and fork just so! It refers to the ‘Sharafat’ that is ingrained in the best of Indian culture; of honour and integrity; of putting the interests of the county, the Army, the unit and one’s subordinates before one’s own; of doggedness in defeat; of magnanimity in victory; of sympathy for the underdog; of a certain standard of behaviour and personal conduct in all circumstances; of behaving correctly towards one’s seniors, juniors and equals.I am very concerned about the increasing sycophancy towards seniors which unless checked will corrode the entire system. Much of this, I realise, is due to the pernicious system of recompense and financial advancement being totally linked to higher ranks. These are of necessity limited due to functional compulsions, and which notwithstanding cadre reviews, are microscopic compared to prospects of our peers in other Government services. And finally, prospects of promotion in rank, being totally dependent on the reports of the seniors. I am hopeful that the introduction of the ‘Running Pay Band’, which would offer equitable prospects without being fully tied to ranks, would break this vicious circle and help us to develop strong back-bones and guts. I would like to make a point regarding those officers who are unfortunate not to be cleared for promotion to various selection ranks. Barring a very small minority, the bulk of them have not been cleared, not because they are not good, but because the system functionally cannot absorb them in a higher rank, and generally it is a difficult choice. In any of the civil services, these officers would have passed through their respective selection grades with ease. The fact that they are retained in the Service upto the ages of 50, 52, 54 or 56 depending upon their rank, is not an act of philanthropy, but because the Army needs them for a vital function. They are not discards or deadwood; they are the salt of the earth and are required to lead companies, squadrons and batteries in war and it is at this level that actions are won or lost and fill equally vital positions in the various higher ranks at which they have got blocked. A running pay band will recompense them for the job they continue to do well and also restore their self-esteem.

9. On the symbolic and psychological plane, I would like to see much less of obsequious and compulsive ‘sirring’. A ‘Sir’ on the first meeting for the day ought to be adequate, followed up in later conversation by ‘Major’ or ‘Colonel’ or ‘General’ as the case may be. I am not suggesting familiarity or impertinence – seniors ought to be treated with due respect and courtesy but cringing must be avoided.

10. On the part of the seniors, there is an unfortunate tendency today of more or less sticking to one’s own rank level even in social intercourse and not mixing adequately with junior officers. This must be put right. We cannot afford to have a caste-system within the Officer Corps. In dealings with peers and juniors also, courtesy, consideration and good manners are equally essential. There is none so disgusting as a person who boot-licks the senior, boots the junior and cuts the throats of his peers. I also notice that of late there has been a regrettable communication gap developing between officers and men. I attribute this primarily to selfishness on the part of the officers and not caring enough about the men. This must be corrected. At all levels, we must insist that we live up to the Chetwodeian motto.

11. There is a lot that we can do to improve our quality of life. The standards of officers’ messes in all areas have deteriorated badly. Dust, dirt and grime, sloppily turned out mess staff, chipped and cracked crockery, unpolished furniture and silver etc, are more and more in evidence. A pseudo-plush decor is attempted, with expensive and garish curtains and upholstery, wall to wall carpeting and so on; these cannot compensate for lack of care, attention to detail and maintenance of standards; nor can aerosol room fresheners substitute for fresh air and cleanliness. Messes are generally run down and seedy on a daily basis and though special efforts are made to spruce them up for special occasions (generally following the aerosol route) the lack of standards still comes through. This must be put right by the painstaking method of insisting on standards. We must keep the messes traditional without opting for a 5-star decor. The standard of food is generally poor and lacking in variety, not because the ingredients are not available but because of lack of attention to organisation and poor training of cooks. With free rations, there is no reason as to why we cannot spend a little on training our cooks and modernising our kitchens. While on the quality of life, I must mention that by custom and usage of service, some privileges do go with added responsibility and senior rank, and I am sure that none would grudge these if used sensibly. However, in some cases senior officers tend to get delusions of grandeur and overdo their privileges on a Moghul style. This is bad and must stop. Otherwise privileges themselves might be withdrawn.

12. We must encourage our officers to make full use of the opportunities that the Service provides of developing a wide range of interests. We serve in all parts of the country, including inaccessible areas, to get where civilians have to invest in money and effort. We have the advantage of infrastructure available country-wide. Apart from opportunities for all kinds of adventure activities, interests in astronomy, photography, fishing, wild life, bird-watching, conservation and so on can be cultivated with little expense. There is a lot going for life in the Service and we must make the most of it.

13. Let us all resolve that we will :-

(a) Shed the dead weight of mediocrity and strive for excellence, each one in his own sphere.

(b) Hold fast to all that is best in our traditions and the finest in values, while doing away with the useless and meaningless.

(c) Avoid ostentation.

(d) Not sell our souls for a good ACR and promotion.

(e) Constantly enhance and update our professional competence.

(f) Sensibly decentralise authority and responsibility.

(g) Permit maximum initiative to our subordinates, and accept a fair quota of honest mistakes as necessary payment for their professional growth and maturity.

(h) Encourage dissent and new ideas at the policy formulation and discussion stage and insist on implicit obedience in the right spirit, post-decision, at the execution stage.

(j) Cultivate a justifiable pride in ourselves, our units, formations, the Army and the Country.

(k) And finally, live up to the motto:

“The safety, honour and welfare of your Country come first, always and everytime. The honour, welfare and comfort of the men you command come next. Your own ease, comfort and safety come last always and everytime”.

14. Before I close, a word to our professional cynics! I can almost hear some say, “Well, we have known all this for quite a while but what’s been done? I’ll believe that something is going to be done when I see something happening on the ground”!

15. As a people, thus far, we have generally been waiting for initiatives from on top; for neatly gift-wrapped solutions from ‘authority’; we have waited for the ‘Sarkar’ or ‘Bhup Singh’ or whoever, to do it.

16. I put it to you, that YOU have to do something about it too. We have everything — the brains, the bravery, the technology, the skills, the ability — all we have to do is to get YOU moving and ‘Get our Act together’ and there is no stopping us!

God Speed!
Yours sincerely,
General K Sundarji

Isn’t this a truly inspiring letter?

Notice the frequent use of the term “élan”.

That’s what we believed in when we were in the Navy too – the Navy is not just a career, the Navy is a way of life, of which Élan and Self-Esteemare the bedrock.

Also – I wonder whether any other Chief has written a similar open letter to his officers and men.

The Front-Line isn’t a Parade Ground

August 28, 2015

Source: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2015/08/all-quiet-on-western-front-book-review.html

Link to my original post in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal:
http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201…

AUTHENTIC MILITARY LITERATURE

ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT by Erich Maria Remarque
Book Review
By
VIKRAM KARVE

NB: In my review below, the generic term “soldier” encompasses all uniformed personnel of the Armed Forces (Army, Navy and Air Force)

PSYCHE OF A SOLDIER

Recent events indicate that most civilian citizens – including the “powers-that-be” – do not understand the psyche of a soldier.

Almost every day – we see news of soldiers being martyred on the Line of Control (LOC) with our hostile neighbour.

But – the common man remains indifferent to this news since it does not affect him – and some politicians go to the extent of remarking that “soldiers are paid to die”.

We see the tragic sight of military veterans on hunger strike for OROP (One Rank One Pension).

We dismiss the OROP imbroglio as “any other issue” – thinking that veterans protesting and agitating is similar to industrial workers, civilian employees or students going on strike – which happens quite frequently.

Jingoistic Politicians “celebrate” the 50th Anniversary of the 1965 War – while Military Veterans who actually fought in the 1965 War are ignored.

We confuse jingoism with patriotism.

I have seen that many people feel that jingoism means patriotism – whereas – in actual fact – there is a big difference between jingoism and patriotism.

Most civilians have a fancy image of the Armed Forces – because they see the “pomp and show” of smartly dressed soldiers marching during the Republic Day Parade and other ceremonial occasions – or they observe the elegant social life of military officers in peacetime cantonments.

But very few civilians know about the harrowing time experienced a soldier in the field – where he is subjected to extreme physical strain and mental stress – not only in war, border skirmishes and counter-insurgency combat operations – but even in “peacetime” – when he is deployed on hazardous “aid to civil power” duties for maintaining law and order or in dangerous disaster rescue and relief or on “internal security” duties in anti-militancy/anti-terrorism and Counter-Insurgency (CI) operations.

There is a stark contrast between “peacetime soldiering” in exquisite military cantonments and the harsh life in the field (and at sea on warships) – and – sadly – only the former is visible to civilian citizens.

For a civilian citizen – it is difficult to grasp the psychology of the average combat soldier – who lives in an environment of dread and fear – and survives each moment with death tagging him at the elbow.

Over time – the soldier becomes reproachful of those who enjoy safety and security – sitting in peaceful comfort – far away from danger – be they politicians, bureaucrats, civilian citizens, or even his own senior officers or the non-combatant “tail” of the Army.

And – this feeling of antipathy further alienates the soldier from civil society – and increases the chasm between the military and the civil society.

In order to bridge this gulf – it is necessary to apprise the common man about the life of a soldier.

Sadly – we have failed to do this.

Our Mainstream Media tends to hype and dramatize military news/issues for TRPs.

Though Hollywood has produced some realistic War Movies – in India – most Bollywood War Films are jingoistic and overly dramatic in nature.

Curiously – even the Armed Forces indulge in hype and propaganda whenever their PR machinery puts out reports in the media.

Even in their recruitment advertisements – the defence services project the “goody goody” part of “peacetime soldiering” – while downplaying the realistic aspects of military life.

If you peruse literature – to see whether there are any literary works which discern between hype and truth – you will realize that most war novels tend to romanticize war – accentuating jingoistic and romantically appealing concepts such as glory, honour, patriotism, sacrifice, adventure, heroism etc – which are far removed from reality.

When I asked myself whether there were any authentic military novels which realistically depict the “psyche of the soldier” – I remembered that indeed I had at least one such book on my bookshelves.

So – I delved into my bookcase and pulled out my ancient dog-eared copy of ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT – which is the most authentic war novel I have ever read.

As is the case with most of my books – I picked up this book long ago from the pavement bookstalls located on the footpath opposite the Central Telegraph Office (CTO) near Hutatma Chowk (Flora Fountain) in Mumbai.

Whenever I buy a book – I always write the date and place – and I see that I have bought this book 37 years ago in 1978.

So – Dear Reader – let me tell you a bit about this classic war novel which authentically describes the horrors of war and portrays the psyche of a soldier in a most realistic manner.

DETAILS OF THE BOOK

Title: All Quiet on the Western Front
Published: 1958 (Fawcett Crest) Paperback 175 Pages
Author: Erich Maria Remarque
ISBN: 44901634095
Edition language: English (Translated from German)

The above details pertain to the copy of the book I have with me.

For details of various editions of “All Quiet on the Western Front” – just “google” the title – or click the url link: Editions of All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

Also – if you do a google search – you will see that this book is freely available online on the internet.

ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT – An Authentic Military Novel

There are very few authentic military novels.

ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT is the most authentic war novel that I have read.

The author Erich Maria Remarque was a German War Veteran and this novel is based on his first hand combat experiences during World War I.

Writing with stark authenticity, Erich Maria Remarque realistically depicts the horrors of war as seen through the eyes of a simple soldier – the violence, brutality, fear and terror soldiers experience at every moment – and the novel vividly brings out the effect of combat on the psyche of a soldier.

A novel tells a story.

But – storytelling alone can never produce a great novel – a classic.

What makes a novel a classic is whether the novel has a message – a “moral of the story” – and how effectively the author succeeds in conveying this message to the reader – so that the “moral of the story” has a lasting impact on the reader.

As elaborated by EM Forster in his book “Aspects of a Novel” – the sine qua non of a good novel is that the story must not only move in time – but it must also impart “value” to the reader – and this “value” is encapsulated in the “moral of the story”.

Erich Maria Remarque achieves this brilliantly – writing in present tense to move the story in time – and using flashbacks to effectively convey the “moral of the story”.

The novel emphasizes that soldiers are normal human beings like everyone else.

Soldiers have feelings like you and me.

Soldiers have families, children, relatives, friends – and love them.

Soldiers are sensitive individuals – not emotionless zombies.

The narrator – a young man only 19 years of age – joins the German Army and fights on the French Front in World War I (the “Western Front”).

The narrator speaks to you in the first person – and gives you his “worm’s eye view” of his war experience.

From time to time – by way of flashbacks – the narrator takes you into his “mind’s eye” – as he reflects on his own views, feelings and emotions on warfighting.

And right at the end of the story – while delivering his coup de grace – Erich Maria Remarque suddenly switches to ‘third person past tense’ – and you remain numbed by the epiphany.

As you read the story – you realize the narrator’s growing awareness of the emptiness of such concepts as patriotism, glory and honour when faced with the reality of war.

When they start fighting on the frontline – the young newly inducted soldiers perceive the huge dissonance between peacetime hype and wartime reality.

THE FRONT-LINE ISN’T A PARADE-GROUND

The essence of the book can be encapsulated in the comment – “… the front-line isn’t a parade-ground…” – expressed in ruminations of the narrator in Chapter 5 of the book.

I too realized the significance of this military truism (“… the front-line isn’t a parade-ground…”) – more than 37 years ago – during my nascent days in the Navy – when I joined a front-line warship after completing my training.

Here – on the warship – the focus was on operational excellence and professionalism – in stark contrast to the emphasis on parades, drill and “spit and polish” during our naval training in “stone frigates”.

The story in “All Quiet on the Western Front” begins when – immediately on completion of their basic military training – the narrator and his friends are sent to the front-line to fight on the battlefield.

The front-line is that part of the Army which is closest to the enemy and front-line troops are first-line combat soldiers in the heart of the battle.

Fighting on the frontline – the raw soldiers realize the military truth – that – in the ‘fog of war’ – the harsh reality is that – “the front-line isn’t a parade-ground” – and that all that parade drill and ‘spit and polish’ they had endured during training was futile – and is of no use in brutal warfighting on the frontline.

Subjected to the horrors of war – the narrator and his fellow soldiers realize the“absurdities of saluting and parade” – and – in a rare expression of dark humor – one of his comrades in uniform sarcastically comments:

“You take it from me – we are losing the war because we can salute too well.”

As they fight a brutal battle on the front-line – the soldiers realize the huge difference between “peacetime soldiering” and actual warfighting.

In peacetime – the Army is a reliable, decent job.

However – peacetime rules and hierarchy lose their relevance in the fog of war and amidst the chaos on the battlefield.

In wartime – rules and hierarchy are pretty useless and silly – especially in the merciless cruel atmosphere of ruthless ferocious conflict.

On the battlefront – it is straight and simple – “kill – or be killed”

As the narrative progresses – we see the protagonist’s growing awareness of the emptiness of such jingoistic concepts as patriotism and honour when faced with the reality of war.

He realizes that most civilians seem to know nothing about military life.

War may be an adventure to a jingoist sitting comfortably at home – but it is a terrible experience for the combat soldier who is actually confronted with the possibility of being blown to pieces at any moment.

As he engages in brutal merciless infantry combat – attacks and counterattacks – bombings and artillery barrages – seeing dead and wounded comrades around him every day – he is overcome by fear and a sense of fatalism – and he becomes obsessed with survival.

I am sure most soldiers have experienced similar emotions.

No soldier wants to die – or worse – get injured and become disabled for life.

A soldier just wants to complete his “tour of combat duty” – and return home in one piece – safe and sound.

Forget about full scale war – this is true even in so-called “peacetime” deployments in the field, especially on turbulent borders and in counterinsurgency operations.

I remember that whenever we were deployed – all that the crew wanted was to return safe and sound and waited eagerly for our warship to return to our base port.

SOLDIERS DON’T START WARS

A soldier does not like war – because it the soldier who suffers most in war.

Soldiers don’t start wars.

It is the politicians who start wars.

But – politicians don’t die in the war – it is the soldiers who die in the war.

And later – when the war has been won – it is the jingoists who celebrate war-victories – and most of these jingoists are civilians who probably have never seen a shot fired in anger.

Earlier – in the days of monarchy – the King would lead his Army on the battlefield.

The King would lead his soldiers from the front – he would lead by personal example – fighting on the battlefield.

Sometimes – the King would be killed on the battlefield.

If he lost the war – the King would be imprisoned – and most likely – he would be executed or tortured to death by the victor.

Nowadays – in modern democracies – politicians rule nations.

But – politicians do not lead soldiers on the battlefield.

In fact – politicians have nothing to do with the fighting – they remain safe and sound – securely ensconced in peaceful comfort – far away from danger – while they exhort soldiers to sacrifice their lives for the nation.

And – when the soldiers win the war – the politicians emerge from their safe cocoons – to “celebrate” and take credit for the war victory.

The inherent message in “All Quiet on the Western Front” is that whether the war is won or lost – it is the soldier who is affected by the war.

In fact – all soldiers are affected by the war.

Some soldiers die on the battlefield.

Among those who survive – there are no “unwounded” soldiers.

Some soldiers are injured and get physically disabled – but all soldiers who go through a brutal war are mentally scarred for life.

The author wants to convey that war destroys men – it can kill them – it can cripple them – it can leave them mentally traumatized for life – and even if they survive in one piece – it leaves them changed for life.

While the book focuses on the extreme physical and mental stress faced by soldiers during the war – it also delves on the detachment from civilian life felt by many of these soldiers upon returning home from the battlefront.

Depicting the difficulty of soldiers to revert to civilian life after having experienced extreme combat situations – Erich Maria Remarque says: “…men…even though they may have escaped its shells, (they) were destroyed by the war…”

CONCLUSION

If you have noticed – while I have delved on the theme – I have not divulged the story of “All Quiet on the Western Front” – because I want you to enjoy the book fully when you read it.

Of course – in subsequent blog posts – I am going to discuss some salient excerpts from this book – and try and relate then to present times.

I recommend you read this classic war novel – in fact – I would say that this is a “must read” book – especially if you are thinking of joining the Army or the Armed Forces.

Of course – if you are already in the Army – you must have already read this book as a part of “essential reading” during your cadet training days – and – I am sure this review will motivate you to read “All Quiet on the Western Front” once again.

Do read “All Quiet on the Western Front”.

As I said earlier – you can easily get the book – in print – or digital version – and it is freely available on internet too.

Written in German language – “Im Westen nichts Neues” was first published in serial form in the German Newspaper Vossische Zeitung from November 10 to December 9, 1928.

It was published in book form the following year (1929) and became a big success.

The 1929 English translation of this book by Arthur Wesley Wheen had the title: “All Quiet on the Western Front”.

The literal translation of “Im Westen nichts Neues” is “In the West Nothing New” with “West” being the Western Front and the phrase referring to the content of an official communique at the end of the novel.

“All Quiet on the Western Front” earned Remarque international popularity and by the time of his death in 1970, perhaps fifty million copies of the novel had been sold and it had been translated into fifty-five languages. It is still widely regarded by many readers and critics as the greatest war novel of the twentieth century.

I love reading military literature – especially war fiction – and I have read many war novels – but “All Quiet on the Western Front” is my all time favourite.

The writing style is unique – owing to its stark authenticity – and this book has left a lasting impression on me.

I am glad I read this superb novel – and – I am sure that you will find reading this engrossing book a fulfilling and enriching experience.

VIKRAM KARVE
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.

Disclaimer:
All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story 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)

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Indian Politics Needs Less Jingoism and More Patriotism

August 20, 2015

http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2015/08/jingoism-is-not-substitute-for.html.

Link to my original post in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal: 
http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201… 

JINGOISM IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR PATRIOTISM
Musings of a Veteran
By
VIKRAM KARVE

NB: The generic term “soldier” covers all uniformed personnel of the Armed Forces (Army, Navy and Air Force) 

Nowadays – we see plenty of jingoism. 

Many individuals – especially politicians – feel that jingoism is a substitute for patriotism.

How many politicians have their children serving in the Armed Forces?

What about rich industrialists and businessmen – civil servants and corporate executives – or the urban middle-class – are any of their children serving in the Defence Services?

Nowadays – even Defence Officers are not motivating their children to don military uniform.

And it is mostly these persons – especially politicians – who keep making jingoistic statements about war and teaching our adversaries a lesson.

Jingoists want the soldier to risk his life and limb – while they themselves will remain safe and secure.

Haven’t you seen some politicians – who want layers of security to protect them – but expect the soldier to sacrifice his life for the nation.

Are there any politicians who are willing to risk their own lives for the nation – or motivate their children to the join the defence services?

If you see today’s self-serving politicians – you won’t believe it – but long ago – there were exceptional politicians who were genuinely patriotic – who were ready to risk their own lives for the nation – and led by personal example.

One shining example is the inimitable Biju Patnaik (05 Mar 1916 – 17 Apr 1997).

His heroic exploits as a pilot in the Royal Indian Air Force in the early 1940’s during World War II were legendary.

Later – after independence – when he had become a politician – he took to the skies again and undertook daredevil flights to airlift army troops into Kashmir during the 1947 War Operations.

He was always ready to work shoulder-to-shoulder with the soldier.

Biju Patnaik demonstrated that he was a true “soldier” and politician.

He was prepared to put his life in danger for the sake of the nation when required.

Is there any politician today who can emulate such stalwarts?

Times have changed.

Politics is no longer a profession of sacrifice.

Politicians do not want to put their lives in danger.

Politicians are no longer prepared to suffer physical discomfort.

That is why they politicians like to monitor things from a distance – while the soldier slogs it out in the field.

Will politicians change for the better?

Let us hope so.

Till that happens:

Soldiers will slog incessantly in war and peace.

Soldiers will do the dangerous work and risk their lives.

On the other hand – politicians will indulge in jingoism and rhetoric – and politicians will fight with each other to claim credit for the soldier’s achievements.

Before you resort to jingoistic rhetoric you must remember that “jingoism is not a substitute for patriotism”  

VIKRAM KARVE
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.

Disclaimer:
All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story 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)

I wrote this article under the title SOLDIER AND POLITICIAN on June 2013 and this article was first posted online by me Vikram Karve on 26 June 2013 in my blog at url: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201…

Now Re-Posted by Vikram Karve at 8/20/2015 01:01:00 PM

“Doctors” in Uniform

August 19, 2015

http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2015/08/humor-in-uniform-my-hilarious.html.

Link to my original post in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal: 
http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201…

My Hilarious Encounters with “Fauji” Doctors – Part 1

“DOC DANEEKAS IN UNIFORM”
HEALTHCARE IN THE DEFENCE SERVICES
A Spoof
By
VIKRAM KARVE

DOC DANEEKA IN THE ARMY MEDICAL CORPS (AMC)

When anyone asks me how life is in the Armed Forces (the Army, the Navy, or, the Air Force) – I tell them to read the famous World War II Novel CATCH-22 by Joseph Heller.

If you have served in the Defence Services – in all probability – you would have read Catch-22 – and even if you have not read it – you would have experienced the essence of Catch-22.

Are you are a motivated youngster who intends joining the Army, Navy or Air Force…?

I suggest you read Catch-22 – so that you will be well prepared for the inimitable characters and unique situations you will encounter during your military service.

In CATCH-22 there is a character called Doc Daneeka – a Medical Officer or MO (as military doctors are called).

His style of diagnosis and treatment is simple.

In fact – Doc Daneeka has succeeded in elevating medicine to an exact science.

Doc Daneeka fully delegates diagnosis and treatment to his assistants – two soldiers called “Gus” and “Wes” – who run the healthcare system in the military unit on their own with so much efficiency that Doc Daneeka is left with nothing to do, which is fine with him, since he hates medical practice anyway.

The modus operandi of the healthcare system is as follows:

All “patients” (who report on sick parade) have a thermometer shoved into their mouths and have their temperature taken.

1. Those with body temperatures above 102 degrees Fahrenheit are rushed to the hospital in an ambulance.

2. Those having temperatures below 102 degrees Fahrenheit have their gums and throats painted with gentian violet (throat paint) and are given a dose of laxative to clear their stomachs and digestive systems.

3. Those who have a temperature of exactly 102 degrees Fahrenheit are told to come after one hour to have their temperature taken again so that the line of treatment could be decided as follows:

(a) Temperature more than 102 – rush to hospital

(b) Temperature less than 102 – throat paint + laxative to clear digestive system

4. After one hour – if a patient’s temperature is still 102 – he is asked to keep reporting to the clinic every one hour  till his temperature either goes above 102 – or his temperature comes down below 102 – so that he could be treated accordingly  as per option 1 or option 2 above. 

During my long service in the Navy – and in inter-service establishments – I came across many such “Doc Daneeka” style Doctors in the Military.

You cannot escape these “Doc Daneeka” types even after retirement – since they pursue you in the ECHS too.

“DOC DANEEKA” STYLE HEALTH-CARE IN THE ECHS (EXSERVICEMEN’S CONTRIBUTORY HEALTH SCHEME)

I have observed another “Doc Daneeka” technique – used sometimes by the ECHS in its clinics – since it works better for retired veteran senior citizen ex-servicemen (who are considered a nuisance).

There is a saying: “Time is a great healer”.

The essence of this ECHS technique is to make the patients wait indefinitely in the crowded waiting room of the clinic – and let “time” do the “healing”.

On reporting to the ECHS clinic – the hapless old-aged frail unwell senior citizen ex-serviceman is made to stand in a long queue – and then he is given a chit. 

Of course – before this – they try to get rid of the veteran by raking up some issue about his ECHS Card – and sending him in a red-tape spin.

But – if the veteran is lucky – then the sick old man is made to wait indefinitely – for a long time – in a congested jam-packed waiting hall.

Four things can happen to the patient – a sick and ailing old man – while he waits at the ECHS clinic:

1. The patient drops dead.

In this case – no further treatment is required at the clinic

2. The patient faints, becomes unconscious, or goes into a delirium – as he becomes seriously ill.

In this case – he is rushed to the nearest Military Hospital

3. The patient gets fed up of waiting at the ECHS Clinic – and so – he goes to the nearest private clinic for treatment for which he has to pay from his own pocket.

The ECHS view is that it is the patient’s personal choice whether to avail ECHS treatment – or to go to a private medical practitioner – so ECHS is quite happy if the military veteran goes elsewhere for medical treatment – thereby  unburdening ECHS load.

4. The patient actually starts feeling well during the waiting period – the sick veteran is cured by the long relaxed wait – after all – rest is the best cure for many illnesses.

Now – since he has become well – the veteran does not need any medical treatment at the ECHS Clinic so he can go away happy after spending the leisurely day at the clinic.

Dear Veteran: Do visit an ECHS clinic and tell us whether you see the “Doc Daneekas” around.

Remember – the cardinal “Doc Daneeka Principle” is to make patients disappear – and in this direction – I think the ECHS is trying hard by introducing more and more “hurdles” like increasing red tape and paperwork – introducing hassles like repeated renewal of cards etc – locating clinics in inaccessible distant places – and trying its best to make patients go elsewhere to seek medical treatment – so that ECHS achieves its ultimate goal of “zero patients”

By the way – it was also a “Doc Daneeka” type masterstroke by the Armed Forces in the 1980s – when the Defence Services abdicated responsibility for post-retirement health-care of their own veteran retired ex-servicemen by creating a new organisation called ECHS – and effectively passed the buck of  post-retirement health-care to ECHS (just like the Military Top Brass is now passing the buck to Politicians and Babus in the case of OROP)

“FAUJI” DOCTORS WHO ARE NOT “DOC DANEEKA IN UNIFORM” – EXCEPTIONS TO THE RULE

There are many excellent doctors and brilliant specialists in uniform – but most of the professionally outstanding “fauji” medical officers are posted at VIP Military Hospitals in big stations.

There are many first-rate doctors posted in smaller units also – but – if you observe carefully – you can spot a few “Doc Daneekas” too.

Once in Vizag – when my kids were small – I once came across a “Doc Daneeka in Uniform” child-specialist who hated children

Yes – believe it not – she was a Pediatrician who hated children.

This Child-Specialist “Fauji” Doctor was unmarried – she had no experience of handling children – and worse – she hated children.

This child-hater Pediatrician was a “Doc Daneeka in Uniform” specimen of a different kind – she insisted on proper “paper work” – and she would not see sick children unless you had got a “referral” through proper channel.

The result was that – due to all these hassles and delays – hardly any children-patients reached her – and she was having a relaxed tenure.

Luckily – we had a Command Medical Officer (a Surgeon Commodore) – who was an exception to the rule – he was certainly not a “Doc Daneeka in Uniform”.

The Command Medical Officer (CMO) was himself a renowned pediatrician – an outstanding child-specialist – and he loved children.

He opened a Child OPD in his office in Command Headquarters – and we all used to take our children to him for treatment.

However – even this magnanimous act of the CMO had no effect on the “Doc Daneeka in Uniform” lady pediatrician child-specialist – who seemed to be quite happy at the turn of events – since now she had to see almost no children-patients – whom she hated anyway.

WHY SO MANY “DOC DANEEKAS IN UNIFORM” ?

In order to understand why there are so many “Doc Daneekas in Uniform” – let me give you a simple illustrative example.

Suppose there a two surgeons. 

The first surgeon does 100 surgeries per month.

The second surgeon does only 10 surgeries per month.

In Private Practice – it is obvious that the first surgeon (who does more operations) will earn more money – and also progress faster up the ladder of professional success and fame.

In case of “Fauji” Doctors – it does not matter – because – whether you do 100 surgical operations per month – or even zero surgical operations per month – you will get a fixed monthly pay as per your rank and seniority – and – promotion is by seniority – so you have to wait in the queue for your turn to come.

If someone has joined before you – he is ahead of you in the queue – and so – he will get promoted before you.

So – a “Fauji” Doctor sitting in Headquarters pushing files will get the same pay as his batchmate who is slogging it out treating patients in a military hospital – and – in case the File Pushing Babu “Fauji” Doctor has joined the Army Medical Corps earlier (and is senior in service) – the Babu “Fauji” Doctor will be promoted earlier than the Professional “Fauji” Doctor who is actually practicing medicine in the field – in accordance with the sacrosanct principle of seniority.

So – maybe – it is the “system” – which creates so many “Doc Daneekas in Uniform”.

I will tell you about a few of my hilarious encounters with these “Doc Daneeka” style “Fauji” Doctor in this series of blog posts.

To be continued…

VIKRAM KARVE
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.

Disclaimer:
1. This blog post 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. 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)
 

This article was written by me Vikram Karve 3 years ago in 2012 and posted online a number of times in my blogs including at url:http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201… 

Now Re-Posted by Vikram Karve at 8/17/2015 12:47:00 PM

 

Blog Fiction on Independence Day : THE PEN IS MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD – Story of a Soldier

August 15, 2015

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: THE PEN IS MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD – Story of a Soldier.

Link to my original post in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal: 
http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201…

THE PEN IS MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD
Story of a Soldier
Short Fiction
By
VIKRAM KARVE

THE PEN IS MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD – A Soldier’s Story by Vikram Karve

The Soldier sat on the footpath near the gate of the Accounts Office.

Abe Langde … Hat Wahan Se (Hey you one-legged cripple … Move from there)Yeh Meri Jagah Hai …(This is my place)…” the food-cart vendor shouted at the soldier.

The soldier winced.

Then – he looked down at his amputated leg.

Yes – he was indeed a cripple – a langda.

When he had joined the army – he had two strong legs.

And now – he had just one leg – and one stump.

The soldier picked up his crutch – pushed his body up – and he slowly hobbled a few steps away.

He was about to sit under a shady canopy near the street corner – when a traffic policeman shouted at him: “Ae Bhikari … Wahan Mat Baith …(Hey Beggar … don’t sit there)…”

Main Bhikari Nahin Hoon … Main Fauji Hoon… (I am not a beggar … I am a soldier)…” protested the soldier.

Phir Border Pe Ja Kar Lad… (Then go and fight on the border)…” the policeman said with sarcasm.

Wahi to kar raha tha… (That is what I was doing)…” the soldier mumbled to himself.

As the soldier tottered on the street on his crutches – he talked to himself. 

The soldier was overcome by regret.

He had been a fool to be brave. 

He should have played safe. 

At least – he would not have lost his leg. 

And – he would not have been discharged from the Army as medically unfit.

Now – he was being made to run from pillar to post for his disability pension – just because some civilian clerk in the accounts office had “misplaced” his documents.

The soldier was exasperated.

In the Army – he was expected to do everything promptly and properly – in double-quick time.

But these civilians were just not bothered.

First – the paperwork was delayed due to red tape.

Then – there were some careless typographical errors in his papers – and his documents had to be sent back to Delhi for the necessary corrections.

And now – his papers had been misplaced.

It was sad.

Nobody was bothered about his plight.

The civilian Babus comfortably cocooned in their secure “9 to 5 five-day-week” jobs were slack and indifferent – and they did not give a damn for the soldiers who they were meant to serve.

Civilians expected soldiers to be loyal unto the grave – but civilians did not reciprocate the same loyalty in return towards the soldiers.

“What is the big deal if you lost a leg?” one cruel clerk had remarked mockingly, “You soldiers are paid to fight. And if you die – or if you get wounded – it is a part of your job. You knew the risks before you joined the Army – didn’t you? If you wanted to live a safe life – why did you become a soldier…? You should have become a chaprassi (peon) – like your friend.”

Tears rolled down the soldier’s cheek as he thought of this.

Others were not so cruel and heartless – but their sympathy was tinged with scorn.

Indeed – he should have become a chaprassi like his friend who was now helping him get his disability pension.

Both he and his friend had been selected for the post of peon in a government office.

But he had been a fool – he told everyone that it was below his dignity to work as a chaprassi – and then he went to recruitment rally – and joined the Army as a soldier.

He made fun of his friend who took up the job of a peon – and he boasted with bloated pride about being a soldier.

And now – the tables had turned – and the peon was having the last laugh on the soldier.

The peon was secure in his job – while the soldier was out on the street – crippled for life – and begging for his pension.

And now – his friend wasn’t even called a chaprassi – they had upgraded all “Class 4” to “Class 3” – and his friend was now designated as “assistant”.

His friend would retire at the age of 60 – after a safe, secure, easy, tension-free career – without any transfers or hardships.

If a soldier got disabled – they would throw him out.

But – if a civilian employee like his friend got disabled – they would never throw him out.

And – by chance – if his civilian friend died – his wife or son or daughter would get a job in his place.

Nothing like that for the soldier. 

A soldier had to fend for himself.

The soldier felt disheartened.

He looked at his amputated leg – and he deeply regretted his decision to join the army.

Indeed he had made a mistake.

He would have been much better off as a peon – a chaprassi – or in some other civilian job.

The soldier also felt a sense of guilt that he had made fun of his friend.

A few years ago – the soldier had laughed at his friend because he was a merechaprassi – a peon.

Today – he was at his friend’s mercy.

The soldier had to live on the kindness of the man he had once ridiculed and scoffed at.

It was a terrible feeling.

More than 6 months had passed – and he was still anxiously waiting for his pension and dues.

His friend had given the soldier – and the soldier’s family – shelter and food. 

And now – the peon friend was trying to help the soldier – by running around from office to office – using the “peon network” to trace the misplaced papers.

The soldier felt sorry for his hapless wife.

His ill-fated wife was at the mercy of his friend’s nasty wife – who openly derided her – and made her displeasure quite clear by making scathing comments about the soldier, his wife and their children.

His friend’s wife kept on complaining and making snide remarks about how the soldier and his family were sponging on her hospitality like parasites.

The soldier’s wife hated the peon’s wife – but she had to suffer the humiliation in silence – and bear the daily insults – and – it was terrible to be at the mercy of someone who detested you.

Today – the peon friend had asked the soldier to stand outside the gate – and the peon had gone into the accounts office alone.

He had gone in alone – because last time – the soldier had spoilt everything by refusing to a pay a bribe to the accounts officer.

The soldier had even threatened the accounts officer that he would report the matter.

The accounts officer was furious: “Go and report. Nothing will happen. Now I will see to it that your papers are not traced until you die. What do you bloody soldiers think? That you can threaten us? This is not the Army. This is the Accounts Office. Haven’t you heard the saying that: ‘THE PEN IS MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD’…? Now I will show you.”

Today his peon friend had gone inside to negotiate.

The clerks had told him not to bring the soldier inside the office as the egoistic accounts officer may get furious on seeing the soldier – and everything will be spoilt.

They told the peon that once everything was “settled” – they would try and trace the “misplaced” documents – and he could take them out to obtain the soldier’s signature – and re-submit the papers for clearance of the disability pension.

The soldier waited anxiously in the hot sun for his peon friend to come out. 

Angry thoughts buzzed in his mind.

“Ungrateful, corrupt people – all these civilians,” the soldier muttered to himself, “we sacrifice our life and limb for their sake and they humiliate us – they even ask me to pay a bribe to get my own disability pension…”

“Patriotism, heroism, idealism – no one bothers about these things anymore. I made a mistake by joining the army. Yes – I indeed made a mistake by joining the army. But – I made an even bigger mistake trying to be brave. What was the point of showing courage, initiative, daring? What did I gain by going beyond the call of duty to nab those guys? How does it matter if a few militants sneak in? Who is bothered about these things anyway – especially out here in the city? They don’t even know what is happening out there. Had I looked the other way – no one would have known – and I would not be a one-legged cripple – a langda... And even then – I wish they had shot me in the head and I had died. That would have been better…” he mumbled to himself, feeling very bitter, frustrated and helpless.

The soldier thought of his wife, his children, the bleak future awaiting them.

How long would they have to be dependent on the mercy of his friend and his nasty wife?

The soldier felt sad – very sad – as depressing thoughts of despondency and hopelessness filled his brain.

He wondered whether his disability pension problem would be solved today.

It was taking long – his friend had gone in at 10 AM – and it was almost 12 noon now.

The sweltering summer sun was hot – and the soldier felt parched and weak.

He had drunk just a cup of tea – since they started their journey to the accounts office in the city by bus from their friend’s home in the distant suburbs – early in the morning.

Suddenly the soldier felt faint – so he walked towards the compound wall of the accounts office.

He took support from the wall – and he slid down to sit on his haunches.

At 12:30 his friend emerged from the gates of the accounts office. 

He was happy – the bribe had been paid – the documents had been promptly traced. 

Now all he had to do was get the soldier’s signature on the papers – and he had been assured that the soldier’s disability pension and all his dues would be given within a month.

The peon friend began to look around for the soldier – and he saw the soldier sitting strangely – propped against the wall.

The soldier’s eyes were closed – and it seemed that he had fallen asleep.

Something seemed amiss – so the peon briskly walked towards the soldier.

The peon bent down – and he touched the soldier’s shoulder.

The soldier fell down to his side.

The peon friend panicked. 

He thought the soldier had fainted – so he started shouting for help.

The traffic policeman – the food-cart vendor – and some passers-by – all rushed to help.

The policeman told the vendor to sprinkle some water on the soldier’s face – but nothing happened.

The policeman rang up the police control room for an ambulance.

“I hope he is not dead,” the soldier’s peon friend said with trepidation.

“I don’t know. But it looks like he is totally unconscious. What happened? Who is he? He was muttering that he is a fauji – is he really a soldier?” the policeman asked.

The friend told the policeman the soldier’s story – the full story.

“Sad,” the policeman said, “very sad – it is really terrible – the way they treat our soldiers.”

The ambulance arrived.

A paramedic examined the soldier and he said, “I think he is dead. We will take him to the hospital. There the doctors will examine him and officially pronounce him dead.”

“The enemy’s bullets could not do what these Babus did with their red tape. It is so sad. The enemy could not kill this brave soldier – but the these Babus  killed him…” the policeman commented.

“Yes. The accounts officer was right,” the soldier’s distraught peon friend said,“The Pen is indeed Mightier than the Sword.”

VIKRAM KARVE
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.

Disclaimer:
This story is a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story 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)
     
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.


This Story was written by me 3 years ago in the year 2012 and first posted online by me Vikram Karve in my blog Academic and Creative Writing Journal onat 1/09/2013 02:09:00 PM (09 Jan 2013) at url:http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201…   and  also at urls:http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201…  and  http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201…

Is “Military Intelligence” an “Oxymoron” ?

August 5, 2015

Link to my original post in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal: -> http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2015/08/do-military-officers-have-brains-or-is.html.

Humor in Uniform

DO MILITARY OFFICERS HAVE BRAINS…?
or
Is “Anti-intellectualism” an OLQ (Officer Like Quality)…?

Link to my original post in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal:
http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201…

Military Thinking


A few days ago – I received an invite for PILF 2015 – Pune International Literary Festival 2015 –  scheduled in the first week of September.

This evoked in me some delightful memories of PILF 2013 – held 2 years ago – in September 2013 – especially the enlightened discussion with a young lady during the Question/Answer Session of the workshop on “Blogging” that I conducted at the Literary Meet.

So – here is the article – comprising the “memoir” and my “reflections” – once more – for you to read, have a laugh and ponder over…  

THE MILITARY “BRAIN”
Reflections of a Navy Veteran
A Spoof
By
VIKRAM KARVE

Around two years ago – in September 2013 – I was invited to conduct a workshop on “Blogging” at a Literary Meet (Pune International Literary Festival – PILF 2013).

During the discussions – a smart young lady sitting in the first row asked me a question:

“Sir – I have read your book of short stories and I regularly read your writings on your blogs – especially your fiction stories – and I was wondering –‘…How is it possible that you can think so creatively despite having spent so many years in the Navy?’…”

At first – I was stumped.

But – I quickly recovered my wits – and I said: “Life in the Navy is so eventful – you meet so many unforgettable characters – you have so many interesting experiences – so you get plenty of material to write about.’

“No, Sir – I did not mean life experiences. I am asking about thinking ability. Tell me, Sir – ‘…Doesn’t military life affect the ability to think creatively?’…” she asked.

“I really did not understand your question – could you please elaborate?” I asked her.

“Sir – I was an army officer till recently – and I found the atmosphere quite stifling and restrictive – which inhibits creative thinking…” the smart young lady said.

Now – I was beginning to understand what she was driving at – so I said: “Do you mean the military “anti-intellectualism” – which suppresses intellectual activity – the military regimentation ethos of  ‘…“Don’t use your brain – just do as you are told” army culture?’…”

“Yes, Sir – that is exactly what I mean…” she said.

I smiled to myself.

She was echoing the thoughts of Liddell Hart.

Sir Basil Henry Liddell Hart (31 October 1895 – 29 January 1970) – commonly known throughout most of his career as Captain B. H. Liddell Hart – was an English soldier, military historian and military theorist.

Liddell Hart – while highlighting the dangers of “anti-intellectualism” in the army – had pointed out the reason due to which military officers lose their creative thinking abilities.

He opined that:

“…A lifetime of having to curb the expression of original thought culminates so often in there being nothing left to express…”.

There is a saying which applies to the Brain:

“Use it – or you will lose it”

I have read somewhere that there is a relationship between mental activity and cerebral blood-flow – and – like muscles – the brain atrophies from prolonged disuse.

Military Officers (especially Army Officers) are encouraged to do plenty of physical exercise to keep their body fit.

However – the anti-intellectual “just do as you are told – don’t use your brain” military culture inhibits the use of the brain.

The ramification of this regimented blind-obedience military culture is thatmilitary officers keep their bodies fit by constant physical exercise – but they neglect exercising their brain (especially the right hemisphere of the brain).

While a military officer may occasionally use his analytical “left brain” – his creative “right brain” will fall into disuse and atrophy.

And – as the military officer spends more years in service and becomes a senior officer – he will lose the ability to think creatively.

The young smart ex-fauji lady officer had a point and she was implying that:

‘…Living for a prolonged duration in a dogmatic “don’t use your brain – just do as you are told” strait-jacketed “anti-intellectual” insular military environment can certainly affect your creative thinking abilities…’

Obviously – during her days as an army officer – the young lady had experienced this intellectually suffocating feeling.

Maybe – she had also observed the detrimental effect of the prevailing military culture of “anti-intellectualism” on the creative faculties of her peers and seniors.

Obviously – during her days in the army – she had experienced that this “blinkered thinking army culture” was constraining her creativity.

Probably that was the reason why she had quit the army before it was too late – in order to enable her creative juices to flow freely – and – now – as a civilian – her creativity was certainly flourishing – as was evident from the inspired creative writing on her blog.

Well – I told the young lady that the intellectual culture in the navy was certainly more liberal and “broadminded” than what she had experienced in the army – and – in general – the navy milieu was conducive to creative thinking.

In fact – I found navy life quite eventful – and this probably gave my creative thinking ability an impetus – as there was never a dull moment in the navy – with so many curious characters around.


“ANTI-INTELLECTUALISM” IS AN IMPORTANT OLQ (OFFICER LIKE QUALITY)

After the workshop was over – I had a delightful discussion with the charming young lady.

“I am sure you have heard of the term OLQ…” I asked her.

“Of course I know what is OLQ – it was drilled into us – OLQ means ‘Officer Like Qualities’…” she said. 

“Well – “Anti-intellectualism” is an important OLQ – yes – “regimented thinking” is a vital “Officer Like Quality” – and – if an officer uses his right brain and thinks creatively or “out of the box” – as they say – then he is doomed…” I told her.

In jest – I told her that during my Navy days – I always carried two brains inside me:

1. A “fauji brain” for regimented military thoughts

2. A “creative brain” for interesting thoughts where I could let my imagination run wild.

Most of the naval officers I met were cerebral types – but I did come across a few anti-intellectual specimens too.

If you are a “fauji” (serving or retired) – or a “faujan” – do tell us if you have come across some “just do as you are told – don’t use your brain”“anti-intellectual” types during your service in the military.

Like I said – the overly regimented Army is certainly more “anti-intellectual” than the Navy –  and most of the naval officers I came across were cerebral types – but I did meet a few “anti-intellectual” types in the Navy too – and about one such hilarious specimen – I will tell you in a subsequent blog post.

And – before I end – let me leave you with a famous saying: 

“Military Intelligence” is an “Oxymoron”

You agree – don’t you – the phrase “Military Intelligence” is a contradiction in terms – isn’t it…?

VIKRAM KARVE
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.

Disclaimer:
1. This is a spoof, 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)

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Abridged Revised and Updated Extract of my article THE CRAZY COMMODORE WITH A PHOBIA FOR “MANAGEMENT THOUGHTS”written by me Vikram Karve on 19 November 2013 and posted online in my various blogs including in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal Posted by Vikram Karve at 11/19/2013 12:31:00 PM at url:http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201…  and revised version at url:http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201…

Now Re-Posted by Vikram Karve at 8/05/2015 11:12:00 

“Lovey Dovey” Couple in Uniform

August 4, 2015

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: Humor in Uniform – PUBLIC DISPLAY OF AFFECTION (PDA).

Link to my original post in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal: 
http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201…

PUBLIC DISPLAY OF AFFECTION – PDA
Story of the “Lovey Dovey” Couple 
A Spoof
By
VIKRAM KARVE


PUBLIC DISPLAY OF AFFECTION (PDA) IN UNIFORM

My first unforgettable memory of Public Display of Affection (PDA) was almost 40 years ago – in the late 1970’s – during my early days in the Navy.

There was a young newly married couple who just could not take their hands off each other.

A Naval Officer is not permitted to get married before the age of 25.

But in this case – the Navy had made an exception.

In a rare gesture – the Navy had shown “compassion” for “passion”.

It was a whirlwind romance – and parental opposition had necessitated a quick “hush-hush” wedding – and the Navy was presented with a fait accompli.

The young Sub Lieutenant bluntly stated that he was prepared to quit the Navy for the sake of his “ladylove”.

So – permission was granted as an exceptional case – and the young couple was allowed to stay in the Wardroom (Officers Mess).

They were allotted a cabin in the old barrack where married officers awaiting allocation of proper married quarters lived temporarily.

The newly married husband and wife were passionately in love.

Their fervent love was visible to one and all – because the handsome husband – and his beautiful wife – demonstrated their obsessive affection for each other quite explicitly in public in a most uninhibited manner.

Dear Reader – remember this was the India of the 1970’s – and this brazenPublic Display of Affection (PDA) was happening in a remote cantonment – in full view of sailors and their families – who were mostly from rural areas – and had rather conservative values.

Now – in the orthodox and conformist environment of a cantonment – an officer and his wife indulging in such titillating physical Public Display Of Affection (PDA) was viewed as scandalous conduct.

The officer was warned to mend his ways.

The wife was “counselled” by ladies.

But there was no effect.

In fact – the “advice” seemed to have the opposite effect.

The young lovey-dovey couple continued their amorous PDA with even greater ardour and passion – which seemed to be attaining new heights.

One evening they were observed kissing and “making out” in the dark corners of the base cinema hall – with their hands all over each other – when the lights suddenly came on.

Next morning – the officer was read the riot act – and threatened with disciplinary action if he did not mend his ways.

“We will throw the book at you…” he was warned.

“We will charge you with Section 53 (indecent behaviour) and Section 54 (conduct unbecoming the character of an officer) of the Navy Act…” they threatened him.

But despite all this – there was no salutary effect of the officer and his wife – who continued their brazen PDA with increasing passion.

Soon everyone turned a blind eye to the PDA – because all realized that the officer and his wife were madly in love with each other.

The officer completed his training a few months later – and was transferred to a ship based at Mumbai.

Everyone breathed a sigh of relief – in a cosmopolitan place like Mumbai – PDA was no big deal – even the Navy in Mumbai had a progressive culture as compared to other places.


3 YEARS LATER

I saw the officer three years later at an official function.

He looked like a ghost of his earlier self – as if he had gone through a serious bout of illness.

When I commented on his emaciated appearance – someone said to me: “Don’t you know what a terrible tragedy the poor chap has gone through? He has been through a most acrimonious and nasty divorce – and the distressing marital discord and bitter divorce has taken a big toll on his health.”

“Divorce…?” I was stunned.

I could never imagine that such a lovey-dovey couple who publicly demonstrated their intense love for each other would ever get divorced.

How could a husband and wife who were so passionately in love with each other get divorced?

It did not make sense.

The couple had been so much in love – that they did not hesitate to publicly display their affection for each other despite societal disapproval – how could they get divorced?


20 YEARS LATER

Twenty years later – I once again met the officer – this time at an airport.

He told me that he had quit the Navy – and that had taken up a job in the industry.

There was a lady standing next to him along with two children.

He introduced his wife and children.

So – he had got remarried.

Looking at his kids – I estimated that he must have got remarried around 10 years ago.

I remembered the officer and his first wife – the lovey-dovey couple – and their passionate, unrestrained and uninhibited Public Display of Affection (PDA).

But – now – there appeared to be a sea change in his demeanor with his new wife.

There was absolutely no Public Display of Affection (PDA) between him and his new wife.

In fact – from the way they were conducting themselves in public – it did not even appear that they were husband and wife.

What an irony?

The “lovey-dovey” marriage with PDA had broken up within one year.

And – the “loveless” marriage without PDA had lasted for more than 10 years – and it looked like this marriage would last forever.

I still cannot fathom the paradox.

A relationship with “100% PDA” is fragile.

But – a relationship with “Zero PDA” is durable.

Such are the mysteries of marriage, romance, love and relationships.

VIKRAM KARVE
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.

Disclaimer:
1. This story is a 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 story 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)
     
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.



Revised Version of My Story PDA – PUBLIC DISPLAY OF AFFECTION posted online by me Vikram Karve earlier in this blog on 21 Jan 2015 at url:http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201…

Now Re-Posted by Vikram Karve at 8/04/2015 10:10:00 PM

Humor in Uniform – Military Wives – “Lady Like Qualities” (LLQ)

August 1, 2015

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: The Navy Wife with “Lady Like Qualities” (LLQ).

Link to my original post in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal: 
http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201…

The Navy Wife with “Lady Like Qualities” (LLQ)

It is heartening to see so many “faujans” (Military Wives) in the Blogosphere. 

I am sure there are many talented Bloggers among Defence Wives who write on a variety of subjects. 

I particularly like 3 Blogs which feature interesting posts about the unique life of Army Wives:

1. A Curious Army Wife 

2. Aditi’s Monologue 

3. Half a Cup of Happyness 

I hope to discover more such blogs about “fauji” life as I am sure there are many “faujis” “faujans” and veterans blogging away in the blogosphere.

Browsing through these blogs and reading delightful posts about life of Army Wives evokes memories of some unforgettable Navy Wives I came across in my long Navy Career – so – here is one memoir about The Navy Wife with Lady Like Qualities (LLQ)


THE NAVY WIFE WITH “LADY LIKE QUALITIES” (LLQ)
Hilarious Memories of My Wonderful Navy Life
A Spoof
By
VIKRAM KARVE

Officers of the Defence Services (Army Navy and Air Force) are required to be Gentlemen.

Accordingly  Wives of Defence Service Officers are expected to be Ladies – hence the term “Lady Wife” for Wives of Military Officers.

All Military Officers are required to possess OLQ (OFFICER LIKE QUALITIES)

But do all Wives of all Military Officers display LLQ (LADY LIKE QUALITIES) ?

Let me delve deep into my Humor in Uniform archives and pull out this story for you to enjoy and ponder over:


LLQ – LADY LIKE QUALITIES (A Spoof By VIKRAM KARVE)


Part 1 – THE OFFICER

“Can you carry a small packet and deliver it to my wife?” the officer asked me.

“Sure Sir,” I said.

“Thanks. Just some Ayurvedic Medicines, that’s all. I’ll come on board your ship tomorrow and give it to you,” he said.

“Sure Sir, no hurry, we are leaving day after tomorrow morning,” I said.

The officer was a friend of my ex-shipmate who had been posted to Cochin a few months ago and with whom I was having a drink in the Navy Club at Cochin (now Kochi).

The officer had joined us for a drink – my ex-shipmate had introduced me – and when the officer came to know that my ship was going to Bombay (now Mumbai) he requested to me to carry a packet and deliver it to his wife in Bombay.

Since my ex-shipmate was calling him “Sir” – I too addressed him as “Sir” – and when he came on board the next day – I noticed that though he wore two stripes of a Lieutenant like me, he had the green 9 year long service ribbon.

(Those days it took 3 years to become a Lieutenant – and then one remained a Lieutenant for 8 long years – so there were “junior” Lieutenants like me – and “senior” Lieutenants like him).

Next afternoon just before lunchtime, the officer came to my cabin onboard my ship and gave me the packet.

He also gave me a slip of paper on which was written his home address in NOFRA.

“I am stuck here in Cochin for the next 3 months doing a bloody course,” he complained, sipping his beer.

“Cochin is a lovely place,” I said.

“I know – but my wife is in Bombay – and, as they say, there is no life without wife,” he remarked.

“Sir, we are stopping over for two days at Goa and we plan to reach Bombay by Friday, so I will deliver your packet on Saturday or Sunday,” I said.

“No problem – I have already posted a letter to my wife in the morning about the packet,” he said.

(36 years ago – when this story happened – writing letters was the common mode of communication – because junior officers did not have landline phones at home – so – a “trunk call” was inconvenient – telegrams were for emergencies – and – of course – mobile phones had not yet been invented).


Part 2 – THE OFFICER’S WIFE

On Saturday evening I rang the bell of a flat on the 6th floor of a high-rise building that housed Married Accommodation for Lieutenants.

A beautiful young lady opened the door.

I introduced myself.

“Yes, yes, do come in,” she said in a mellifluous voice, “I got my husband’s letter two days ago – I have been expecting you today.”

“Sorry Ma’am, I could not come in the morning…” I said – and I handed her the packet her husband had sent from Cochin.

“Oh, come on – it was so nice of you to get the packet – do sit down – I will get you something to drink – what will you have?” she said.

“Just a glass of water…” I said – and I sat down on the sofa.

I looked at the lady as she opened the fridge – took out a bottle of water – poured some in a glass – and brought the glass in a tray towards me.

I was impressed by the way she carried herself – she had so much élan, grace and poise.

She excused herself, went into the kitchen and then she came out and asked me: “Come on – have a drink – the bar is over there – and then we will have dinner – you like chicken, don’t you – or are you a vegetarian?”

“Ma’am – please don’t take the trouble…”

“What trouble? There’s no trouble at all – my maid will do the cooking while we talk – in fact it is you who have taken the trouble to deliver the packet and the least I can do is to offer you a meal,” she said.

I felt uncomfortable having a hard drink alone in her company – so I asked for a soft drink – and she had one too.

I think she realized that I was feeling a bit awkward – so she tried to put me at ease.

We talked – we had dinner – and the evening passed in a haze of delight.

As I rode my scooter back to ship I thought about her – she was a perfect navy wife – her social graces, her etiquette, her polish, her refinement, her poise – well, it is difficult for me to describe everything about her in words – so I will just say that she had all the “Lady Like Qualities”.


Part 3 – THE OFFICER and HIS WIFE

A few months later – I ran into her in the US Club Library.

“Good evening, Ma’am,” I wished her.

“Oh, hello – how are you?” she said politely.

Suddenly – her husband came in.

He looked at me – he recognized me – and he smiled and said to me, “Hi – How are you?”

“Hello, Sir – welcome back to Mumbai,” I said.

“Come – why don’t you join us for a drink – let’s go to the bar,” he said.

“Sure Sir,” I said.

I walked down to the bar with the Naval Officer and his wife.

We sat down in the club bar.

Those days – it was the custom that the senior officer signs for the drinks – so the officer signed the bar chit to order drinks.

I noticed that his lady wife was giving me a rather curious look.

I smiled at her.

“Why are you calling my husband “Sir” – you are senior to him – aren’t you?” she asked me.

“No Ma’am – your husband is senior to me,” I said.

“Really? Are you sure? I thought that you are senior to my husband,” she said.

“Of course I am sure – your husband is senior to me,” I said.

“That is surprising. You look so old and mature – that is why – when you came home the other day – I thought that you were senior to my husband,” she said.

I did not know what to say.

I certainly did not look that “old” – as if I were an elderly senior citizen.

But with my copious beard – bulky body size – and rather podgy physique – I certainly looked older than my age.

So – I said, “ Yes, Ma’am – you are right – I do look a bit older than my age – and many persons do think that I am more senior than I actually am – in fact – once a senior Lieutenant mistook me for a Lieutenant Commander – and he was surprised when he saw me in uniform next morning.”

“Oh – all that doesn’t matter,” remarked her husband, the senior Lieutenant.

It may not have mattered to him – but it did matter to his wife.

As far as his wife was concerned – it was obvious that my inter-se seniority with her husband did matter to her.

The moment she realized that I was junior to her husband – her demeanor towards me changed drastically.

Earlier – she had treated me with courteous obsequiousness – on the day I had visited her home when she thought that I was senior to her husband.

But now – the moment she realized that I was junior to her husband – her behaviour changed totally – and she was cold and frosty towards me.

The disdain with which she ignored my presence – her scornful vibes – all this made me feel uncomfortable – and I excused myself from their company after a drink – saying that I had to go somewhere.

On my way back to the ship – I had a big laugh.

It was evident that her “Lady Like Qualities” – her LLQ – was quite selective.

Yes – she certainly had selective LLQ.

In fact – to put it bluntly – this Naval Officer’s Wife was lacking in “Lady Like Qualities(LLQ)

Her Naval Officer husband may have been a “Gentleman” – but she certainly did not display the attributes of a “Lady”.


Epilogue – LADY LIKE QUALITIES (LLQ)

THE NAVY OFFICER’S WIFE 

(Hope this is applicable to Army/Air Force Officer’s Wives as well)

Here is quote from a NWWA (Navy Wives Welfare Association) booklet which encapsulates some prudent advice for a Naval Officer’s Wife:

“You don’t wear his (your husband’s) stripes … there is no such thing as a ‘Senior Wife’. There are Senior Officers. They have wives. There are Junior Officers and some of them have wives. All wives are ladies … You will not fawn over others and not expect others to fawn over you. You will be yourself. And your own manners, breeding and natural charm will shine through leaving you with no need for any borrowed stripes or other borrowed plumage”

I have seen many such elegant navy wives who were perfect ladies – military wives who had excellent LADY LIKE QUALITIES or LLQ

Do tell us if you have seen military wives with perfect LLQ?

And also do tell us some hilarious episodes about “faujans” sans LLQ – stories of military officer’s wives who are not “Ladies”

VIKRAM KARVE
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.

Disclaimer:
1. This blog post is a 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 story 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)

Revised, Updated and Collated Version of My Humor in Uniform Stories Posted by me Vikram Karve in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal Blog at 6/10/2014 12:09:00 PM at url: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201…and url: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201…  and http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201… 

Now Re-Posted by Vikram Karve at 8/01/2015 02:14:00 PM

Humor in and out of Uniform – PONGO and PANI PURI

June 21, 2015

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: Humor in Uniform – PONGO and PANI PURI.

Link to my original post in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal: 
http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201…

One of the perils of “jointmanship” is that the numerically smaller services – the Navy and the Air Force – are losing their unique identity and the Army is trying to make everyone a “Pongo” under the guise of standardisation.

Someone told me that that the traditional “Subtle” Navy Parade Drill was changed a few years ago to be in conformance with rather “Brash” Army Drill Practice.

The Navy has introduced Army Style Collar Tabs on its uniforms for senior officers – and made the naval uniforms more “showy” – like the Army – by introducing various accoutrements and badges – and hardly anyone wears the traditional simple No. 8 Navy Shirt and Shorts Uniform (“half-pant”) which is most comfortable and apt for the tropics.

Earlier – you could easily distinguish between a sailor and a “pongo”.

In most cases – a Naval Officer would sport a full-set beard or sideburns till the bottom of the ear-lobe – and have a decent length of hair.

Now – I have observed that most young Naval Officers prefer to have Army Style Crew Cuts – and very few Navy Officers sport traditional flowing full-set beards.

Those days – “pongos” in white uniform were quite rare.

Now – almost every sailor looks like a “pongo”.

Let me delve into my my “Humor in Uniform” Archives and tell you a story of one such “pongo” in white uniform.

But before that – let me tell you why army-men are called “pongos”.

Yes – “Pongo” is naval slang for an army soldier.

Why is an Armyman called a “Pongo”?

Well  there are many apocryphal stories on the origins of the term “Pongo”.

Here is one such yarn that I heard long back from an old sea dog.

He told me that the term “Pongo” originated in the Royal Navy to denote an infantryman. 

As per a myth  the “Pongo” was a unique ape. 

When he sensed danger or felt scared – the “Pongo” did not climb trees like most apes or monkeys normally do.

But the “Pongo” would dig holes in the earth and hide himself in the ground – in the same way as infantrymen dug in and entrenched themselves in the ground when they were under attack in battle.

Another similar yarn says that “Pongo” is derived from the archaic name for the Orangutan  which had the habit of digging holes in the ground for no apparent reason – and then filling the holes back. 

The sailors probably observed army soldiers digging away  and hence the nickname “Pongo” for army soldiers.

Sorry for the digression, Dear Reader – here is the story of a “Pongo” in the Navy.

Have a Laugh !!!

PONGO AND PANI PURI
Story of the OLQ Obsessed Killjoy
A Spoof
By
VIKRAM KARVE

Way back in the 1970’s  when we were trainees  we had a “Colonel Blimp” type Training Officer. 

Though he was only a few years senior to us  he was a pompous snob with rather archaic ultra-conservative conformist views.

This officer was truly a “Relic of the Raj”.

A typical Military “Sainik” School and ex-NDA type  he had seen very less of the civilian world.

As far as he was concerned  like a frog in a well  the military was the “be all and end all” of his life.

In fact – he was so “OG” – that we thought that he was better suited for the Army – rather than for the Navy.

Yes – he was more of a “spit and polish” prim and proper “Pongo” – than a carefree happy-go-lucky Sailor. 

He would have been better off wearing Army Olive Green (OG) rather than donning Navy Whites.

His favourite pastime was to deliver sermons on military conduct – and give us moral lectures on OLQ (Officer Like Qualities) – and pontificate about service etiquette and social graces – and how we must conduct ourselves as officers.

But one thing was sure.

He practiced what he preached.

And – he preached what he practiced. 

His turn-out was spotless – and his “military” bearing was always immaculate – his “officer-like conduct” was unblemished – and he always put “service before self”. 

But for us young happy-go-lucky youngsters who wanted to enjoy life – this “Colonel Blimp” was a big pain in the neck.

One evening while on liberty (shore leave) – we were enjoying eating deliciousPani Puri (Gol Gappa) at a roadside stall.

“Colonel Blimp” who was driving by on his scooter saw us eating Pani Puri – and worse – we were eating at a roadside stall.

He looked totally shocked and appalled.

But he did not say anything there – but just drove by on his scooter. 

Next morning he lined us up – and gave us what in Naval parlance is called a “bottle” – a very severe reprimand and scolding which I can remember even today: 

“How can officers behave like this?” 

“You uncivilized buggers were eating Pani Puri at a roadside stall?”

“It is just not done!” 

“Officers must have proper class. You are no longer college students. As officers – you must dine in good decent restaurants.” 

“Remember that your conduct is being watched at all times.” 

“As Officers – you are expected to conduct yourselves with proper dignity.”

“Officers are not expected to hang out like hooligans in the open – and eat junk food at roadside stalls.”

He went on and on and on.

Then – after he had finished his tirade – he admonished us: “You bloody riff-raff are not fit to go ashore. So I am stopping your liberty as a punishment.”

So – as punishment for our foodie escapades – “Colonel Blimp” stopped our liberty.

Now – we could no longer go out and enjoy the delights the city had to offer. 

Thus – we had no choice but to spend the rest of our training period drowning our sorrows in the bar.


5 YEARS LATER

A few years later – on a winter evening in Delhi – my wife and I walked down from our flat in Curzon Road Apartments on Kasturba Gandhi Marg to Bengali Market for our customary evening “tiffin” snacking.

Suddenly we spotted “Colonel Blimp” at the famous Chaat Stall in Bengali Market. 

Standing next to him was a beautiful woman.

The beautiful woman was eating Pani Puri

“Colonel Blimp” was looking at the gorgeous lady in a rather cold and disapproving sort of way.

But this did not seem to bother the ravishing beauty – and she was thoroughly enjoying herself eating Pani Puri.

She was eating pani puri after pani puri – and slurping her tongue – and smacking her lips in delight.

I could not miss this opportunity – so I walked up to “Colonel Blimp” – and I introduced my wife.

“Colonel Blimp” introduced the gorgeous woman as his fiancée.

“Care for some Pani Puri ?” the lovely lady asked us.

This was an offer I could not refuse – so I said: “Sure – we would love to havePani Puri.” 

And then – all of us (except “Colonel Blimp”) – relished plate after plate of lip-smacking pani puri and chaat

Yes – we gorged on pani puri and all types of delicious chaat 

We all stood on the road and ate pani puri and chaat – except “Colonel Blimp”. 

He looked on with discomfiture.

He staunchly refused our repeated invitations to join us in eating the delicious mouthwatering Pani Puri and chaat

While leaving – “Colonel Blimp” gave me a stern disapproving look.

I knew he was itching to deliver his stock moral lecture – hisstandard sermon on “OLQ”.

But then – in his rule-book – “it was just not done” to bullshit juniors in front of ladies. 

So – I was spared the agony of a public scolding.

On our way back – I told my wife the story of “Colonel Blimp”.

My wife was was sure that the killjoy OLQ obsessed Pongo “Colonel Blimp” would dump his fun-loving “unofficerlike” fiancée – as they seemed to be most incompatible for each other. 

But – to our surprise – we soon got an invitation for their wedding. 

Of course – his wedding reception was held in the service institute – and everything was done in a most “officer like manner

Colonel Blimp’s wedding reception was an extremely decorous and most formal occasion – as if it were an official party. 

His newly wedded wife was conducting herself in a very prim and proper manner.

We were convinced that Pongo “Colonel Blimp” had taken charge of his wife and indoctrinated her on the finer aspects of “OLQ”, social graces and service etiquette – and drilled into her as to what was expected of her as a typical Naval Officer’s wife.

It looked like the fun loving vivacious young girl had been converted into a quintessential “NWWA type Navy Wife”.

A few days later – one evening – my wife and I were walking down from Kota House towards India Gate on Shahjahan Road.

Suddenly we saw Pongo “Colonel Blimp” eating Pani Puri at the famousUPSC Chaat Wala Stall – along with his vivacious wife. 

I could not believe my eyes. 

Yes – Pongo “Colonel Blimp” was actually relishing Pani Puri on a roadside stall.

The moment he saw us – he waved to us and invited us over for some Chaatand Pani Puri 

I was stunned.

This was an invitation we could not refuse. 

It was great to see Pongo “Colonel Blimp” standing on the roadside – smiling and laughing with abandon – while he ate Pani Puri and Chaat at the roadside stall.

The metamorphosis was amazing.

It seemed that Pongo “Colonel Blimp” had lost all his stiff military “OG-ness” – and he was behaving like a normal “civilian” human being.

He was thoroughly enjoying himself – digging into chaat – and then poppingpani puris  into his mouth – eating gol gappa after gol gappa – in a very carefree manner – totally oblivious of the surroundings.

The vivacious girl had succeeded in transforming the spit and polish, prim and proper, OLQ obsessed killjoy Pongo “Colonel Blimp” into a carefree happy-go-lucky Sailor.

I have seen many officers change for the better after marriage.

And – of course – some officers change for the worse after marriage.

Like my carefree “devil-may-care” happy-go-lucky coursemate – who suddenly became ambitious and career conscious after marriage.

But that is another story…

For now – let us enjoy the “Pani Puri” story of OLQ Obsessed Killjoy Pongo “Colonel Blimp” and have a laugh…

VIKRAM KARVE
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.

Disclaimer:
1. This blog post is a 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 story 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)


This story was written by me in the year 2010 and posted online earlier by me at urls: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201…  and  http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201…  and  http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201…  and http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201…

Now Re-Posted by Vikram Karve at 6/21/2015 06:23:00 PM

 

%d bloggers like this: