Wednesday, November 6, 2013

STORY OF A BOY WHO WANTED TO APPEAR TO BE A NAVAL OFFICER - A CAREER IN THE DEFENCE SERVICES (Army Navy Air Force) Part 2 - ATTITUDE MATTERS MORE THAN APTITUDE

A CAREER IN THE DEFENCE SERVICES (Army Navy Air Force) Part 2
Story of a Boy who wanted to appear to be a Naval Officer
By
VIKRAM KARVE

Continued from Part 1 :


ATTITUDE MATTERS MORE THAN APTITUDE 

There is a saying:

The Navy is not a job. The Navy is a way of life

(I feel the same holds true for the Army and Air Force as well).

A career in the defence services or armed forces like the Army Navy and Air Force is different from most other civilian careers. 

The unique attributes of a military career entail a distinctive “way of life” that makes a career in the armed forces totally different as compared to a career in the civilian world.

Many young persons join the defence services without fully understanding the unique aspects of a military career and then they feel out of place, mismatched, frustrated and regretful.

During my naval career I have seen so many officers who realised that they were misfits in the navy and wasted many frustrated years of their lives in misery trying to get out of the navy.

Please do not let that happen to you.

Do join the army, navy and air force - but do so with due diligence, with your eyes open and with full awareness. 

It may prove foolhardy to join the armed forces on a sudden impulse or in a wave of jingoism. 

You must be realistic about it because your career is probably the most important part of your life.

As I said before, many young persons join the defence services without fully understanding the unique aspects of a military career and then they feel out of place, mismatched, frustrated and regretful.

During my naval career I have seen so many officers who realised that they were misfits in the navy and wasted many frustrated years of their lives in misery trying to get out of the navy.

You must ask yourself:

DO YOU WANT TO BE A TRUE MILITARY OFFICER?

or 

DO WANT TO APPEAR TO BE LIKE A MILITARY OFFICER?

Yes, there is a difference between being a fauji and to appear to be a fauji.

Here is the story of one such officer who wanted to “appear to be a naval officer rather than be a true naval officer.


THE STORY OF A BOY WHO WANTED TO APPEAR TO BE A NAVAL OFFICER

Long back, around 20 years ago, a young boy, accompanied by his parents came to see me at my home in Pune where I was spending my annual leave.

The boy, 15, studying in 11th Class, wanted to join the Navy.

His parents, who lived nearby, were from a business background.

I talked to the boy, and his parents, for some time.

Then, from what I had learnt the hard way from my own experience, I advised the boy not to join the navy.

His parents were angry: “Why are you saying so? Our son is so good – look at his personality, his physical fitness, his intelligence, his smartness. Don’t you feel our son has the aptitude to be selected for the navy?”

“Of course he has the aptitude,” I commented, “but does he have the right attitude?”

At first the boy and his parents seemed confused at what I had said.

Then they looked at me angrily and it seemed that they were getting upset.

Before the parents could react, I said, “Well, I feel that your son does not have the appropriate attitude for the navy.”

I saw that the furious parents now thought that I was demeaning their son.

They were in no mood to listen to any further explanations, so I kept quiet. 

Their ego was hurt and I could see that now the boy was even more determined than ever to join the navy and prove me wrong as if it were a prestige issue.

The boy cleared the UPSC Exam and sailed through the SSB (of course, in the Services Selection Boards they assess “aptitude” but I wonder if they evaluate “attitude”).

In due course the smart young boy joined the academy as a cadet for basic training.

10 years later, the same boy, looking smart in his spotless white uniform of a Naval Lieutenant, was sitting in my office in Mumbai.

He had come to ask me a favour.

He desperately wanted to get out of the navy and was wondering if I could help him out.

“But why do you want to quit the navy?” I asked with surprise, “you are just beginning your career in the navy and you have such a bright future ahead.”

“I just don’t like it over here – I just can’t tolerate my life being controlled all the time – the bloody rules, regulations, and all the bullshit – I can’t stand it anymore,” he complained bitterly.

“So you don’t like the regimentation, the naval way of life?” I asked.

“Yes. I remember what you said ten years ago when we had come over to your place in Pune. You said that I didn’t have the right attitude for the navy. You were right. I should have listened to you,” he said, quite contrite.

Of course, then he went on to list many reasons why he wanted to quit – family pressures (his father was not keeping well and wanted him to look after their family business), a matrimonial alliance (the girl did not want to marry a defence officer) and so many other reasons. 

But the crux was the attitudinal mismatch problem.

I frankly told him that it would be very difficult for him to leave the navy since he was a permanent commission cadet entry officer.

I advised him that now that he had joined the navy, it was best for him to continue serving in the navy as he had a bright career ahead.

But I saw that the young Lieutenant sitting in front of me was in no mood to listen to my platitudinous advice.

He had not listened to my advice when I told him not to join the navy.

Now, again, the he did not listen to me when I told him to continue serving in the navy.

The young Lieutenant was adamant on quitting the navy. 

He kept putting up his resignation again and again giving different pretexts and made his own life miserable and everyone else’s too.

Later, I learnt that his perseverance to quit the navy had paid off.

He had finally managed to get out of the navy after a struggle of nearly three years, relentlessly pushing his papers, pulling strings, using connections, begging and pleading his case.

13 years of his productive life were wasted, to him and to the navy – and finally he left the navy with a feeling of bitterness.


MORAL OF THE STORY

During my naval career I have seen many such cases of officers who realised that they were misfits in the navy and wasted many frustrated years of their lives in misery trying to get out of the navy.

That is why, before you join the navy, or the army or air force, make sure you have the right attitude suitable for a career in the navy.

To be continued...

VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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.

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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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