Monday, December 2, 2013

HUMOR IN UNIFORM - “JOINTMANSHIP”

HUMOUR IN UNIFORM

“JOINTMANSHIP”
A Spoof
By
VIKRAM KARVE

Disclaimer:
1. Please read this apocryphal story only if you have a sense of humour. This is a spoof, pure fiction, 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.
NB:
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)

WHAT IS THE MEANING OF “JOINTMANSHIP”?

If you are familiar with military jargon I am sure you have come across the term called: “jointmanship”.

At first, I thought that the concept of “jointmanship” had something to do with inter-service cooperation.

However, as I grew “wiser” in service, I realized that it was exactly the opposite of what I had earlier thought.

I first saw “jointmanship” in action in the early 1980’s when the Army evicted Naval Officers from the SP Marg Officers Mess in New Delhi.

In a retaliatory gesture of “jointmanship” the Navy evicted all Army Officers from the Kota House Officers Mess.

Those days Army and Navy had common officers’ messes (SP Marg and Kota House) whereas the Air Force, which always believes in keeping a safe distance from the “pongos”, had its iconic Central Vista (CV) Air Force Officers’ Mess on Janpath.

Later, as a result of the Army-Navy “jointmanship” wars, the spoils were divided, with victorious Army having won the bigger, better and modern SP Marg Mess and the vanquished Navy having to make do with the ancient decrepit Kota House Mess.

In this “jointmanship” battle for the Officers’ Messes, the Navy had been roundly and soundly defeated by the Army.

Though I had left the SP Marg Officers Mess by then, as I had got married and shifted to Curzon Road Apartments, it was quite sad to see friendly messmates who were living as buddies together being wrenched apart and separated as per the colour of their uniform just to suit the whims and fancies of some senior officers.

Even today, as I hark back, I fondly cherish my glorious days at SP Marg Officers Mess.

I remember that we had plenty of genuine jointmanship and inter-service camaraderie at the junior level – yes, it was authentic and sincere jointmanship, not pseudo “jointmanship” which exists only on paper.

In fact, at SP Marg Officers Mess, relations between us naval officers and our army messmates were excellent and we made a lot of army friends – lasting friendships which endure even till today.

Yes, indeed there was excellent “jointmanship” visible at the junior officer level – we all lived happily together in the Officers Mess and there was an atmosphere of bonhomie in the evenings when we all sat together on the lawns or in the bar enjoying our drinks.

That is why we were surprised when Naval Officers were peremptorily thrown out of SP Marg Mess – their very own home.

I wonder why the Army evicted Naval Officers from SP Marg Mess – which they promptly renamed “Battle Honours Mess”.

There were many stories doing the rounds, but everyone was unanimous that this unfortunate decision was a result of ego battles and turf wars between Generals and Admirals.

While the senior officers fought with each other, the junior officers suffered as a result of these internecine ego wars and personality clashes.

Of course, now each service has its own separate officers’ mess in New Delhi, so that senior officers can have their own separate fiefdoms.

On many occasions, I have heard Senior Officers lecturing and pontificating about the need for “jointmanship” in the Indian Armed Forces.

But tell me one thing.

What so-called “jointmanship” are you talking about when you can’t even have a Joint Officers Mess where Officers of the Army, Navy and Air Force can live together, drink together and eat together and build up camaraderie?

I think the first step towards achieving genuine jointmanship is to convert all officers’ messes in Delhi into tri-service combined officers’ messes for officers of all three services. 

PARADOX OF “JOINTMANSHIP”

Most other countries, including the big military powers, have separate training academies for the army, navy and air force.

Despite this, they seem to have achieved a lot of actual jointmanship.

In contrast, India has a joint training academy for all the three services – the National Defence Academy (NDA) at Khadakvasla near Pune.

Despite this common training at the cadet level, have we really achieved the desired level of jointmanship?

Or is jointmanship to be forgotten the moment a cadet graduates from NDA?

In fact, you may not believe it, but in many cases it is ex-NDA officers who don’t see eye to eye with each other when they reach senior ranks, as we witnessed long back at IAT, an inter-service training institution.

The biggest irony was that the Heads of the Army and Navy Wings, who were daggers drawn with each other, were course-mates at NDA, whereas the Head of the Air Force Wing was a Direct Entry Technical Officer who got along well with everyone.

This “jointmanship” war percolated to lower levels too, sometimes with greater fury, with everyone trying to prove their “loyalty” to their respective bosses.

To add spice to the proceedings, a fourth actor entered the “jointmanship” fray – civilian scientists – so now you had the soldiers, sailors, airmen and scientists engaging each other in the “jointmanship” melee.

The end result of all this “jointmanship” was that the institution suffered – IAT which was one of the finest inter-service training institutions is no longer the premier centre of excellence it once was.

MANIFESTATIONS OF “JOINTMANSHIP”

We see manifestations of “jointmanship” everywhere.

For example, take residential housing schemes for ex-servicemen.

What is the need for a separate Housing Schemes – the AWHO (Army Welfare Housing Scheme) for the Army and the AFNHB (Air Force Naval Housing Board) for the Navy and Air Force?

Would it not have been better to have a single housing scheme for all the three services?

Each service has built its own educational institutions for children of their respective service – Army has its own Schools, Colleges and Institutes and so have the Navy and Air Force.

It is the same story with other welfare facilities too.

Yes, as I said, there is plenty of inter-service camaraderie at the junior officer level, and you can get things done on the personal network.

But is it not true that when it comes to senior officers and the services as a whole, with each trying to protect its turf, it is a different story all together?

Has common training, as embodied in the concept of NDA and other joint training institutions, achieved the desired level of jointmanship?

IS THE EXISTING “FEUDAL” SERVICE CULTURE A BARRIER TO JOINTMANSHIP?

Well, I feel that it’s a question of culture.

Firstly, we still have a feudal culture, and the degree of feudalism varies from service to service.

Assets, human and material, are treated as personal fiefs and that is why ego battles and turf wars break out the moment someone tries to disturb the feudal equations.

I feel that genuine tri-service jointmanship can be achieved only by a top-down approach because if the Generals, Admirals and Air Marshals can’t see eye to eye, if senior officers are daggers drawn with each other, and if they keep fighting their private internecine wars and engage in turf battles with each other, then jointmanship will remain in the realm of wishful thinking.

Before I end, to cheer you up, let me give you a recent hilarious example of “jointmanship”.

(Remember, this is supposed to be “humour in uniform”)

Customarily, the Navy Foundation Pune, has a get-together of retired veteran naval officers and families on the last day of the Navy Week, on the Sunday following Navy Day (4th December).

Accordingly, a lunch was planned on the 8th of December, at a popular convenient tried-and-tested venue, a hotel which is well located, having amenities like valet parking, affordable, with excellent ambiance and providing delicious food – ideal for senior citizen veterans and families.

However, a few “oldie-goldies” opined that the function should be held at a “Military” venue.

Though these oldie-goldies were in a miniscule minority, in deference to their wishes, the organizers agreed, and they duly approached the army authorities, only to be subjected to a profuse dose of “jointmanship”.

I heard that the army “pongos” put the navy veterans in a spin and made them run from pillar to post, and after having made the hapless navy veterans trudge back-and-forth obtaining so-called “approvals”, they finally agreed to give a venue on 22nd of December (of course, this can be cancelled anytime subject to “exigencies of service” – a euphemism for “whims and fancies” of the army in the context of this case).

The “pongos” do not seem to understand the sanctity of having a Navy Week function during the Navy Week – or maybe they just don’t care – and the Navy Veterans can do nothing about it and they have no choice but to “like it or lump it” since here in Pune it is the Army that calls the shots.

So, thanks to “jointmanship”, the navy veterans of Pune will have the Navy Week function two weeks after the Navy Week is over.

Cheers to “jointmanship”

Hey, remember this is a spoof, so take it with a pinch of salt, have a laugh, and have good day.

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 work. 
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Disclaimer:
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.
NB
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.

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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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