Tuesday, June 4, 2013


The 6 P’s

1. Please read this article only if you have a sense of humour.
2. All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
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 2013 all rights reserved

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.

This anecdote pertains to the ill-fated “forward policy” which happened in NEFA (Arunachal Pradesh) sometime in 1960.

Indian Army Troops were being hastily rushed up into the Himalayan 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 remember someone once telling us that the commanding officer who sent this hilarious reply was none other than General Eric Vas [Lt Gen EA Vas (15 May 1923-18 Aug 2009)].

If my memory serves me right, I think it was the very same General Eric Vas who, in one of his pep talk speeches to young officers of all the three services at IAT Pune, advised us:

If you want to enjoy service life you should not bother about three things:

1. PAY 



(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 this truism certainly applies to the defence services, and maybe the civil service as well.


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 so many of my colleagues comparing their PAY with others and getting disheartened and disillusioned. 

Comparing your pay with others is a sure shot formula to feel miserable, because it is a natural tendency to compare with someone who is 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.


Are you an ambitious careerist who is indulges in an all-out no-holds-barred competition for PROMOTION.

Ambition is like ringworm

The more you scratch, the more you enjoy the sensation, but the ringworm increases too. 

Every officer wants to get promoted. 

But, if you are cutthroat ambitious type, and getting promoted is the be-all and end-all of your life, you may go higher up in the ladder, but your life will be stressful and you may not be able to enjoy the everyday joys which navy life has to offer.

And one day, due to steep hierarchical pyramid in the defence services, you are likely to be passed over. 

If you are overambitious type, supersession may make you bitter and frustrated, and you may even waste your time fighting the system, which will make you even more bitter. I have seen so many officers, some quite senior, who retire with anger, resentment and bitterness.

In the defence services, it is a fact of life that career progress is slow and your chances of promotion to higher ranks is quite slim. 

In a liberalized democracy, defence services can never match the industry, or even the civil services, in compensation packages. And this gap is only going to increase with more and more liberalization and globalization and with increasing civilian supremacy.

Modest Career Prospects and Moderate Pay. 

That is the truth. And you must accept this truth.

If you want faster promotions, better career prospects and more pay, it is better for you to go and join some other profession. 

But if you are in the army, navy or air force, it is best not to be excessively obsessed about promotion.

If you get promoted, well and good.

If you do not get promoted, also well and good. 

Be happy and enjoy the unique inimitable unmatched lifestyle the defence services have to offer.


In the army and air force they call it posting, in the navy they call it transfer, but this is an inescapable part of a career in the defence forces.

Everyone gets posted or transferred.

A sure-shot way of becoming miserable is 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).

[As an aside, let me tell you a hilarious anecdote about posting. This happened in the late 1970s. A shipmate was posted to Calcutta (now Kolkata). He was a Bengali and we thought he would be happy. But he was quite dejected and in low spirits. The reason  Booze was more expensive over there.]

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:

Just don’t bother about the 3 P’s

It is a fact that if you live a non-comparative and non-competitive life you are sure to be happy and content.


The 3 P’s of Retirement

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 working and holding on to power till their death.

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

That is why you see so many senior officers behaving in a most obsequious manner in the last years of their service – toadying and fawning before politicians and bureaucrats to cultivate powerful people and gain their patronage to get one of those sought-after post-retirement jobs

Another reason why individuals cannot enjoy their retirement and want to keep on working interminably 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 may prove counter-productive and ruin their reputations forever and also tarnish the image of the service.

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, especially in the defence services, boils down to 6 P’s.

Yes, if you want to enjoy life, remember not to be bothered about the 6 P’s :

The 3 P’s while in service (PAY, PROMOTION, POSTING)


The 3 P’s after retirement (POWER, PELF, PATRONAGE)

Dear Fellow Officer (Serving and Retired): 

Try it – stop worrying about these 6 P’s and see for yourself how you can enjoy life. 

It works – you can take my word for it.

Do you agree? You don’t? Please comment and tell us your views. As always, I look forward to your feedback.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2013
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this book review. 
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

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 2013 all rights reserved

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About Vikram Karve

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 an anthology of short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and 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  and academic 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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Unknown said...

Though the post is written with Armed forces perspective, a lot of Ps are applicable to any job....specially Ps of retirement.

Vikram Waman Karve said...

Dear juzta mum,
Thanks for your comment. I am glad to learn that the 6 P's are relevant in the civilian world jobs too. And yes, if you become addicted to the P's then retirement becomes painful.