Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Humor in Uniform - SAHAYAK (aka BATMAN aka ORDERLY aka RUNNER) - a Relic of the Raj

“SAHAYAK” (aka “Batman” aka “Orderly” aka “Runner”– A RELIC OF THE RAJ
A Spoof
By
VIKRAM KARVE

Disclaimer:
1. Please read this spoof only if you have a sense of humor. This piece 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 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)


“SAHAYAK” (aka “Batman” aka “Orderly” aka “Runner”– A RELIC OF THE RAJ

The CTC (Cost To Company) of an Army Officer is much higher than his equivalent Navy or Air Force Officer.

In addition to the pay and perks (which are roughly the same), an Army Officer gets another “perk” called a “Sahayak” (aka “Batman” or “Orderly”).

Long back, I was posted as faculty in a tri-service training institution.

On the faculty, there were officers of the Army, Navy and Air Force and all officers did exactly the same job.

We were all instructors and whether you were in the Army, Navy or Air Force, the job was identical – to teach.

But only the Army Officers had “Sahayaks”.

This was starkly evident in the evenings when we all went for long walks.

I had a pet dog.

My neighbor was a senior Air Force Group Captain who also had a dog.

We used to personally take our dogs for a walk in the evenings (and in the mornings too).

A number of Army Officers had pet dogs too.

But not a single army officer would take his dog for a walk.

“Dogwalking” was the “duty” of the “Sahayak”.

Yes, walking the Sahib’s dog was the Sahayak’s job.

Maybe it was “below the dignity” for an army officer to take his dog for a walk.

I noticed that the practice of Sahayaks walking officers’ dogs was quite a common sight in army cantonments and tri-service institutions.

In fact, some of my army friends used to leave their dogs with their sahayaks when they came home on leave or went on courses.

One army officer’s wife even commented that looking after their dog was the sahayak’s job.

And I observed that what she said was true – the sahayak took full care of the dog – the dog’s food, walks, grooming, bath, everything.

In fact, the sahayak” was the de facto “Master” of the officers pet dog.

Every time a discussion on “sahayaks” comes up, most army officers are quick to defend this ancient practice saying that sahayaks are required for officers in the “field”.

Agreed – army officers require soldiers as sahayaks in the field.

But how can you justify soldiers being deputed as sahayaks” in peacetime family stations?

Why must only Army Officers get “sahayaks” especially in inter-service establishments where you have Navy and Air Force Officers doing exactly the same job as Army Officers?

What rankles even more in inter-service training institutions is when some resourceful “student officers” from the army manage to get their “sahayaks” and flaunt them in front of senior navy and air force officers on the staff.


WHY DOES ONLY THE ARMY OFFICER NEED A SAHAYAK (BATMAN)?

What is the genesis of this practice – why does an army officer need a “sahayak”?

An old-timer army veteran once told me that a sahayak (batman) is not a private servant and he is not provided to an army officer to perform the duties of a domestic help.

The sahayak is not a domestic orderly.

The sahayak or batman is a combat soldier.

(The word “batman” is short form of “battle-man”)

The batman is actually a “runner” who always accompanies the officer in battle and his primary duty in combat operations is to convey the orders of the officer to his subordinates, particularly when the wireless is not functioning.

Besides his primary task as a “runner, the sahayak or batman is supposed to look after the officer’s needs, his equipment and uniform, act as a bodyguard and protect the officer and generally be his “buddy” while the officer is engaged in combat operations.

Thus the batman was the officer’s “battle-man”, his buddy in combat, and there was no question of a batman being employed on any nature of domestic work, especially in peacetime family stations and in the homes of officers.

This is what the old-timer told me.

Unfortunately the perception created in the minds of people is quite different.

It may not be entirely correct, but unfortunately, the general impression today is that the sahayak or batman is a personal servant of the army officer and his family.

Again I say that this may not be a correct picture.

But then what will be the impression created in the minds of people when they observe army officers using their sahayaks to take their dogs for walks, send them to the market for shopping, and to perform various types of domestic workmenial jobs and household chores.

This is visible to everyone in peacetime stations and cantonments, sometimes even in civilian areas where army officers live.

A recently retired army officer’s wife told me that the one thing she misses the most is her “sahayak”.

Long back I heard a bizarre story which may be apocryphal.

“resourceful” officer who was posted to a non-family field area managed to arrange a “sahayak” for his wife who was living in separated married quarters in a peace station.

The irony was that the smart “sahayak” turned out to be even more “resourceful” and was having a rolicking affair with the officer’s wife stealing her affections while the officer was slogging it out in the field.

Yes, it can be hazardous to let a sahayak get too intimate with families, especially wives and daughters.

With the advent of women officers in the army, I wonder if they too are provided male sahayaks.

Or are lady army officers provided female attendants?

Do some officers manage” sahayaks after they retire from the army?

I do not think it is permitted, but someone once mentioned that some resourceful senior army officers do “manage” to get sahayaks even after retirement.

Another argument army officers use to justify the institution of “sahayak” is that even other Civilian Officers (IAS, IPS, Railways, PSUs, etc) have various government employees deputed as “attendants” in their homes for similar domestic duties.

I wonder whether other modern armies still provide sahayaks” (batmen) to officers?

And do civil servants of modern nations get “attendants” for their domestic work?

Due to the feudal culture of India, someone told me that even Diplomats and IFS Officers are entitled to take “attendants” and servants abroad.

Well, it seems that we still remain a feudal society with the same old colonial culture, and these “Relics of the Raj” are not going to go away in a hurry.

Since it will be impossible to get rid of this time honored feudal practice of sahayaks in the army, the best thing to do in the name of jointmanship would be to extend this facility of sahayaks to the navy and air force.

When almost everyone at officer level, all army and most civilian officers, get sahayaks and “attendants”, why leave out only the Navy and Air Force Officers?

Yes, how about providing “sahayaks” to Navy and Air Force Officers?

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, 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.
 

MILITARY LEADERSHIP and OFFICER LIKE QUALITIES (OLQ) – SHOULD OFFICERS BE “LIONS IN ACTION” OR “DOGS IN OBEDIENCE” ? – EVALUATING MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL FITNESS

MILITARY LEADERSHIP and OFFICER LIKE QUALITIES (OLQ)

SHOULD OFFICERS BE “LIONS IN ACTION” OR “DOGS IN OBEDIENCE” ?

FOR A MILITARY OFFICER: IS MENTAL FITNESS THE MOST IMPORTANT OFFICER LIKE QUALITY (OLQ)?
Ramblings of a Retired Mind
By
VIKRAM KARVE

Disclaimer: These are my personal views based on my personal observations and life experiences and the stories and examples quoted may be apocryphal


“ARTHRITIS” IN THE HEAD IS WORSE THAN ARTHRITIS IN THE KNEE

In his autobiography A SOLDIER’S STORY General Omar Nelson Bradley (the renowned American General who commanded the 12th Army, the largest army in World War II, during the invasion of Europe) recounts an incident.

During the war, one of the best Corps Commanders, General Troy H Middleton suffered an arthritic disability in the knee and it was suggested to General Marshall (the US Army Chief) that Middleton be sent home rather than be given command of a army corps in the field which was engaged in active combat.

General Marshall retorted, “I would rather have a man with arthritis in the knee than one with arthritis in the head. Keep Middleton there.”

General Marshall was proved right.

In Europe, as a part of Patton’s 3rd Army, Middleton commanded VIII Corps with distinction and successfully led it throughout the European Invasion all the way from Normandy to the Elbe.

Middleton was a seasoned campaigner, having commanded 45th Infantry Division in the Sicilian Campaign in II Corps (commanded by Patton and later by Bradley).

He was then promoted to command VIII Corps in Patton’s Third Army during the invasion in Europe, when he was struck by an attack of Arthritis.

Marshall’s insistence that “I would rather have a man with arthritis in the knee than one with arthritis in the head”  was proved right as Middleton performed brilliantly as a leader especially in the Battle of the Bulge  (described below):

“Had not Middleton, egged-on by Patton, ordered unrelenting attacks against the assaulting Nazis, and had not his infantrymen and tankers risen to highest levels of gallantry, the Germans certainly would have overcome the 101st’s resistance and been able to re-establish their supply lines leading to Bastogne”

Following this battle, Middleton led VIII Corps in its relentless push across Germany right into Czechoslovakia when Germany surrendered and the war ended.

Before the Battle of the Bulge, his leadership in Operation Cobra led to the capture of the important port city of Brest, France, and for his success he was awarded a second Distinguished Service Medal by General George Patton.

Middleton was recognized by both the Supreme Allied Commander Eisenhower and Army Commander Patton as being a corps commander of extraordinary abilities.

General Patton had recommended that if he became a battle casualty, then General Middleton should succeed him as commander of the 3rd Army.

Middleton logged 480 days in combat during World War II, more than any other American General Officer.

General Troy H Middleton achieved this remarkable and most spectacular military success despite have been stricken by arthritis in the knee.

This story exemplifies the importance of mental fitness for a military officer.

Mental fitness is certainly as important as physical fitness, and, in some cases, especially for senior officers, mental fitness is more important than physical fitness.


PHYSICAL AND MENTAL FITNESS EVALUATION IN THE INDIAN ARMED FORCES

Do we regard mental fitness to be as important as physical fitness in our armed forces (army navy and air force)?

In the beginning (at the time of recruitment): Yes. For Officers, both Physical and Mental Fitness are evaluated.

In India, the selection process for an officer in the armed forces (army, navy and air force) includes assessment of both physical fitness and mental fitness.

Physical fitness is tested at the Services Selection Board (SSB) followed by a thorough medical examination at the Military Hospital (MH).

Mental fitness is analyzed by various psychological tests, group tasks and interviews at the SSB.

Thus, both physical and mental fitness are confirmed before selection.

Thereafter, physical fitness is evaluated and confirmed every year by an Annual Medical Examination (AME) and Physical Evaluation Test (PET).

If an officer does not meet the specified standards, the officer’s medical category is downgraded and his career is adversely affected as the officer is considered unfit for combat duties.

Physical fitness is not taken for granted.

This is because it is felt that physical fitness of a person can change over the years depending on one’s health and the attention one pays to maintaining oneself.

However, mental fitness is never evaluated during your entire military career once you have been commissioned as an officer.

Mental fitness is taken for granted.

It is assumed that mental fitness does not change and there is no need to “examine” and confirm an officer’s mental fitness every year.

However, like physical fitness can change with time, similarly, mental fitness can also change over the years depending on life experiences.


PHYSICAL TOUGHNESS versus MENTAL ROBUSTNESS

Physical toughness and mental robustness are two different attributes.

Physical toughness does not automatically guarantee mental robustness.

Yes, it may not always be true that all physically tough persons will necessarily be mentally robust as well.

In the army, physical toughness may be more important for junior officers, but for senior leadership it is mental robustness that matters.

In his book “The Unfought War of 1962” the author JR Saigal cites the example of his Brigade Commander who was physically tough but mentally weak-willed.

As a junior officer, he had suffered harrowing experiences as a prisoner of war during the Second World War and was determined not to become a prisoner again.

The Brigade Commander became so jittery when he heard of the advancing enemy that he abandoned his troops and fled from the battlefield even before the attack was launched by the enemy.

The author says that a person with such a vulnerable mental make-up should not have been posted anywhere near an operational area.

Yet such a shaky and mentally unfit officer was posted to a crucial command appointment – and that too in war.


DOES ACR SYNDROME CONVERT “LIONS IN ACTION” INTO “DOGS IN OBEDIENCE” ?

In the Navy too, I have seen many officers, who were mentally robust in their younger days, lose their boldness as they become senior due to their fervent ambition and fanatical obsession to get promoted to higher rank.

In their quest for promotion at any cost, these officers fall victim to the “ACR Syndrome” since promotion is solely dependent on the all important ACR (Annual Confidential Report).

I once saw a Commanding Officer become a nervous wreck in his quest to earn an “outstanding” ACR – there were 10 other highly ambitious Commanding Officers in the Fleet of the same rank competing with him for promotion, and, he knew that the vacancies were very few, so the cut-throat competition was very tough.

I was astonished by the change in the mental makeup of this officer, since the same officer had been a robust happy-go-lucky carefree individual in his younger days.

It seemed that zero error syndrome coupled with his extreme ambition had made him fearful and lose his mental robustness.

Instead of enjoying his command, he was stressed out, since, due to his obsession for an “outstanding” ACR, he was doing a few things which he knew were wrong.

It is quite ironical, that instead of becoming more and more mentally forceful as they become senior, some highly ambitious officers start becoming spineless, due to their servility to the powers-that-be, as they crave for career-success and even yearn for post-retirement sops.

Thus, by the time they reach high rank, long years of submissiveness severely compromises their mental robustness and this may affect their command capability, especially in a crisis.

You cannot expect an officer to be a “dog in obedience” and “lion in action” at the same time.

Similarly, once an officer who was a “lion in action” gets slowly converted into a “dog in obedience” – it is difficult to instantly re-convert the “dog in obedience” back into a “lion in action”.


ANNUAL MENTAL FITNESS ASSESSMENT – ANNUAL PSYCHOLOGICAL EXAMINATION (APE)

One solution to alleviate this problem is to have an Annual Psychological Examination (APE) to assess the current “Mental and Emotional Fitness” of an officer and ascertain his suitability for leadership in combat situations.

In today’s world, modern tools and techniques are available to conduct such psychological tests.

All that needs to be done is to include an Annual Psychological Examination (APE) along with the Annual Medical Examination (AME).

It is as simple as that.

This will ensure that the military will have officers at the top who are as mentally robust as they are physically tough.

And those with “arthritis in the head” will be weeded out.

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, 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.
 



JOB HOPPING MANTRA

JOB HOPPING MANTRA
Ramblings of a Retired Mind
By
VIKRAM KARVE

Never change your job because you are fed up with your present job.

Quit your present job and change to a new job only if you are attracted to your new future job.

Your career change must be for growth, not as a means of escape from your present career.

You must shift to a new career due to “Pull” factors (attraction) and not due to “Push” factors (repulsion).

The motivation to change your job must come from the “Pull” of the new career (attraction) and not the “Push” from your present job (frustration).

Let me share my experience from my long military career in the navy.

Organizational objectives require that the armed forces (army, navy and air force) have a steep pyramidal hierarchical organizational structure.

As a consequence, vacancies diminish as you rise in rank, and this adversely affects promotion prospects.

It is an accepted fact that career prospects in the defence services are poor as compared to career prospects the civil services.

(From time to time, attempts have been made to tinker with the time tested steep pyramidal military hierarchical structure by way of “cadre reviews” but it has been realized that making the military too “top heavy” may be detrimental to the fighting efficiency of the forces, as senior ranks only add to the “tail” and create an imbalance in the “teeth to tail” ratio)

The “steep pyramid” entails stringent promotion percentages which results in a ruthless selection process.

This results in a large number of good officers getting passed over for promotion at young ages due to lack of vacancies.

“Supersession” is an accepted “occupational hazard” in the defence services.

If you join the armed forces must be prepared for this eventuality of supersession at an early age, sometimes as early as in your 30’s, when you are “written off” and it suddenly becomes the “end of the road” as far as your military career is concerned.

In the military, individuals react to supersession in different ways.

Some overreact as they feel “betrayed” by the service (army, navy or air force) and they quit their military career immediately (strong “push” factor).

They suddenly land up on the “Civvy Street” in a bitter state of mind and unprepared for the consequences, not knowing what to do, since they have made no plans for the unexpected career shift.

Many such officers quit in a huff before completing the mandatory 20 years pensionable service and land up in dire financial straits.

Some remain in service, become bitter, and sour the atmosphere around them.

Others enjoy their “passed over” state and keep serving till superannuation.

If you are feeling “bored” with your job, remember it is better to be “bored” than “broke”.

One of my friends, a naval officer, quit the navy because he felt “intellectually suffocated” and “bored” in the navy.

Like I said earlier, he quit because of the “push” factor.

He discovered that his new job in the civilian world was even more “intellectually suffocating” and “boring” than the navy.

He quit that job too, and after a few days he spent all his savings and was broke, so he was forced to accept an even more boring and “intellectually suffocating” job.

In contrast, I have observed that those who changed their careers due to “pull” factors are happy and have done well in their new careers.

Some were attracted by the “pull” of entrepreneurship and wanted to do their own thing, so the opened their own businesses/industries/start ups.

Others discovered their true m├ętier and shifted careers due to the “pull” of the new vocation they wanted to pursue.

I know a bright officer, who was doing well in service, who discovered that enjoyed teaching immensely, and he changed careers to become a schoolteacher and is very happy with his new way of life.

Here is my “Job Hopping Mantra” in a nutshell:

1. Never change your job because you are frustrated in your present job (“push” factor).

2. Change to a new career only if you are attracted to your new future job (“pull” factor)

Career Shift must be motivated by “attraction” to the new career, and not due to “repulsion” from your present job.

Dear Reader: Do you agree ?

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. These are my personal views. You must do your own due diligence.
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.