Thursday, July 11, 2013

RANKOPHILIA - Love of Rank or Rank Consciousness


If you have served in the defence services, you will have come across rank consciousness, especially in the highly regimented army, where even some army wives are excessively rank conscious.

I have seen some such Rank Conscious Wives (RCWs) vitiate social life in the services.

For an officer, being rank conscious may be fine while he or she is in service.

But some of these snobbish types even try to throw around their erstwhile rank after retirement.

Sometime back I witnessed an amusing spectacle of a retired erstwhile senior army officer trying to pull rank and jump a queue for renewing his CSD Canteen Card despite the fact that he was now a “retired nobody”.

Of course, he was put in his place by those around him who told him to get into the queue, and the chastened rank conscious snob beat a hasty retreat.

When I was in the Navy I observed that there were two types of officers:


These were the confident type of officer, who carried themselves with poise and dignity, were well-bred, polished, cultured and courteous.

They were honest, transparent, fair and upright in their conduct and quite humble, modest and down-to-earth in their behaviour. 

These officers did not need the crutches of rank 

In fact, by their exemplary demeanor these officers enhanced the dignity of the rank they held 

They always put service before self

These “good officers were role models for their juniors to admire and emulate.  

They truly epitomized the term: “An Officer and a Gentleman”.


Then there were the insecure type who were excessively rank conscious haughty show-offs who believed in the dictum:

“Boot your juniors and Boot-lick your seniors” 

They were unabashed careerists who put self before service because for them their rank and status were everything

For these insecure types - rank, promotion and their naval career was the be-all and end-all of life.

They knew, in their hearts, that they lacked genuine Officer Like Qualities or OLQ

So they faked OLQ by using bluff and bluster, pulling rank and overdoing the “Rank Has Its Privileges” or RHIP syndrome.

For them, rank was everything, because they knew that without the crutches of rank they were zeroes.

So they wanted to get promoted at any cost and they were prepared to go to any extent, and stoop to any level, in order to achieve their sole aim of getting promoted to high rank

It is this insecure and ambitious type of careerist officers who often misuse their rank and get involved in scams, scandals and unethical acts and tarnish the good name of the service. 

Such careerists may get promoted to high rank, but by their unethical conduct they terribly damage the reputation of the entire service.

Snobbish and pretentious behaviour is a sign of low self-esteem.

And it is this low self esteem that is the root cause of RANKOPHILIA (Excessive Love of Rank or Rank Consciousness)

The greek word philia means excessive liking or love.

So rankophilia means excessive love for rank 

And an overly rank conscious officer may be called a rankophile

So, if you see any status-conscious, pompous, egoistical snobs and rankophiles around you, who seem to be afflicted with rankophilia, maybe you can tell them this apocryphal story in the hope that they will introspect, reflect and change for the better.



Keichu, the great Zen teacher of the Meiji era, was the head of Tofuku, a cathedral in Kyoto.

One day the Governor of Kyoto called on him for the first time.

His attendant presented the visiting card of the Governor, which read:



The Zen Teacher Keichu looked at the visiting card and said to the attendant: “I have no business with such a fellow. I do not want to meet him. Just tell him to get out of here.”

The attendant carried the card back to the Governor with apologies.

“That was my error,” said the Governor.

He asked the attendant for a pencil.

Then with the pencil he scratched out the words GOVERNOR OF KYOTO.

Governor Kitagaki then gave the card back to the attendant and said to him, “Take this card to your teacher and ask him again if he would please give me an audience.”

The Zen Teacher Keichu saw the card and exclaimed with happiness: “Oh, it’s that Kitagaki? I want to see that fellow. Send him inside immediately.”

So that’s the secret.

If you want to get rid of rankophilia, just DROP YOUR RANK and DROP YOUR EGO.

Why is everyone so obsessed with rank, status, power, wealth, fame and other egoistic trappings?

Your individual qualities matter much more than your rank

Your external rank will go away one day


Your intrinsic worth will remain with you forever, and maybe it will be remembered as your legacy. 

And once you retire, what matters more is your present accomplishments rather than your past rank which is irrelevant in civil society. 

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 story. 
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

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

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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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Anonymous said...

Unlike Karve but quite like the class X passed stringers of our media.
Any way, you seek kudos, so take one!
ee 72 kgp

Vikram Waman Karve said...

Thanks Anonymous

vishal said...

And Sir, there are the ones, within service, who change completely when in a position of power, oblivious to the fact that someday they have to relinquish and come down to mother earth. Probably this will need a separate article from your creative pen :-)