Friday, October 19, 2012


The 6 P’s

On page 58 of his war memoir “Himalayan Blunder” (The Curtain Raiser to the Sino-Indian War of 1962) Brigadier John Parashuram Dalvi narrates an amusing story pertaining to the ill-fated “forward policy” which happened in NEFA (Arunachal Pradesh) sometime in 1960 when Indian Army Troops were being hastily rushed up into the mountains towards the China Border without any administrative or logistic arrangements.

A Commanding Officer of an Infantry Battalion, a Lieutenant Colonel famous for his pungent wit and sense of humour, got so fed up with the absence of any sort of supply system that he decided to use some heavy sarcasm and act in a facetious manner. He is reported to have sent one of his monthly routine reports on a “chappati” (a flat unleavened Indian Bread).

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

In reply, the Commanding Officer sent the now classic retort: “I regret the unorthodox nature of my stationery, but atta” (wheat flour) is the only commodity available for fighting, for feeding and for futile correspondence”.

I cannot recall exactly who told me this story, but I remember someone once saying that the officer who sent this hilarious reply was none other than General Eric Vas [Lt Gen EA Vas (15 May 1923-18 Aug 2009)] and if my memory serves me right, I think it was the very same General Eric Vas who, in one of his pep talk speeches, told us that if we wanted to enjoy service life we should not bother about three things:


(He called them the 3 P’s). 

I think this dictum of the 3 P’s applies across the board, to all careers, including those in the private sector. But it certainly applies to the services, military and civil.

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

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

In my time too I found many of my colleagues comparing their PAY with others. 

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

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

So, like an ambitious careerist, make sure that you get into an all-out no-holds-barred competition for PROMOTION.

And to further add to your misery, don’t forget to compare your POSTING with your more fortunate colleagues 

(By “Posting” I mean not only the geographical location but also the type of appointment and designation).

So tomorrow, when you go to office, remember not to bother about the 3 P’s.

If you are obsessed with the 3 P’s, it is a guaranteed formula to make you frustrated and stressed out at work.

And if you want to enjoy your work and career, you know what to do – don’t bother about the 3 P’s – for it is a fact that if you live a non-comparative and non-competitive life you are sure to be happy and content.

Okay, so you did not bother about the 3 P’s (PAY, PROMOTION, POSTING) and enjoyed your service life, but one day you will retire and then you will have three more P’s which you should not worry about.

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


When you retire you lose your “position power” – the higher you are the greater the loss of power. Many take it in their stride and enjoy their retirement, but some individuals who get addicted to power refuse to let go and cannot cope with the loss of power and keep hankering after it and make their lives miserable trying to get power.

I think this is the main reason why some people never retire and want to keep on working till their death.

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

That is why you see so many senior persons behave in a most obsequious manner in the last years of their service – toadying and fawning to cultivate people and obtain their patronage. 

Another reason why individuals cannot enjoy their retirement and want to keep working after retirement  is “pelf” – these greedy money-minded individuals are never content with their savings and pension and want to keep on acquiring wealth till their death (though they know that they cannot take their wealth with them to heaven or hell after their death). In extremis, such pelf-oriented persons may even be ready to take up dubious wheeler-dealer jobs with euphemistic titles like “consultants” or “advisors” which sometimes can prove counter-productive and ruin their reputations forever.

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

In conclusion, I would like to say that your life boils down to 6 P’s.

Yes, if you want to enjoy life just don’t bother about the Six P’s
The Three P’s while in service (PAY, PROMOTION, POSTING)
The Three P’s after retirement (POWER, PELF, PATRONAGE).

Dear Reader (Serving or Retired): Try it – stop worrying about these P’s and see for yourself how you can enjoy life. It works – you can take my word for it.

Please comment and tell us your views. As always, I look forward to your feedback.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2012
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

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A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer and blogger. Educated at IIT Delhi, IIT (BHU) Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories, creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional research papers in journals and edited in-house journals and magazines for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing and blogging. Vikram Karve lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

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Nirvana said...

So glad I came by this post!! I couldn't agree with you more on the first three P's (am yet to reach the other stage).
I am in the HR function, and have been hiring and counselling people for the last 15 years - the currnet ideology of pay, promotion and position is so deeply ingrained in the pass outs from institutes, that they end up being failures in attitude driven industries - like hotels, retail etc..... I would blame the institutes, who build the expectation levels so high.

Ankionthemove said...

Gud one.Love to read the articles everyday on general subjects.

Vikram Waman Karve said...

@ Mary - Your website is great - Thanks for the comment

Vikram Waman Karve said...

@ Nirvana - Your experience is true - it is all about expectations

Vikram Waman Karve said...

@ Thanks Ankita - I look forward to your feedback too.

Unknown said...

Good Article.
Makes a lot of sense :)

Unknown said...

But, does tht mean, stop living a competitive life with aspirations to grow, succeed, though not entirely, those 3 Ps do matter to most of us..still I agree that they bother us the most, well written, plz guide