Friday, July 18, 2014

MARRIAGE IN UNIFORM aka MILITARY MARRIAGES

MARRIAGE IN UNIFORM aka MILITARY MARRIAGES
An Apocryphal Story
By
VIKRAM KARVE

Disclaimer:
1. This story is a work of fiction. Characters, 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.

Copyright Notice:
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.
 


MARRIAGE IN UNIFORM – An Apocryphal Story By VIKRAM KARVE

“A” was a brilliant young lady naval officer.

“A” had a degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering from a premier engineering college. 

She had passed out at the top of her class in first class with distinction and was offered excellent jobs with good career prospects in the best of IT Software and Engineering Companies during campus placement.

It was puzzling as to why she decided to join the navy despite the fact that she was aware that she would have limited career prospects in the navy, unlike in the civilian world where her career opportunities and scope for advancement were much brighter.

Firstly, despite being technically qualified, she would have to join the education branch (since technical branches are seagoing branches and women naval officers do not go to sea).

Secondly, she was being offered a short service commission of 5 years (as was the norm for women officers those days).

Being in the education branch she would spend most of her time on instructional duties teaching basic science and mathematics to trainee sailors and this surely would not add value to her technical experience and, once she left the navy after 5 years to search for a job, she would be at a professional disadvantage as compared to her “techie” counterparts who were gaining valuable relevant experience doing technical jobs in the industry.

We found “A” to be an outstanding officer and whatever her duties, she performed them cheerfully with efficiency, diligence, sincerity and competence.

Just a few days earlier, the moment she was 25 years of age (the navy marriageable age) “A” had got married to her college sweetheart who worked as an IT Professional in a leading software firm in Mumbai. 

Luckily, after serving at different places, “A” had been posted to Mumbai 6 months earlier and she looked forward to spending the next two years with her husband in Mumbai by which time her short service tenure in the navy would come to an end.

“A” was a lively person, full of life and always in good cheer, maybe because of the first flush of marriage. She was a delightful person who enlivened the atmosphere of the workplace.

One day we were quite surprised to find “A” in a sour mood.

We asked her what was the matter.

“I am going to be transferred out of Mumbai,” she complained bitterly.

“That is not possible,” we said, “You have just spend 6 months here and the normal tenure is 3 years.”

“I know, Sir,” she said, “but they want to move me out to accommodate my batchmate who has married a naval officer who is under transfer to Mumbai. They want to move her to Mumbai along with him so they can be together. So we have to exchange places – she comes here in my place and I have to go out of Mumbai to her place. I told them that I too am recently married but they said that my husband was a civilian working in a private company. They are favouring her because she married a naval officer and discriminating against me because I married a civilian.”

“Are you saying that you feel that they are victimizing you just because you did not marry a naval officer?” we asked her.

“Yes,” she said indignantly.

“Don’t worry,” we said, “we will do something.”

I rang up a friend in the education branch and told him to find out the true facts.

He rang back a few hours later saying that, indeed yes, there was an unwritten policy that a “naval couple” was to be accommodated in the same station as far as possible.

“This amounts to victimization?” I said.

“Victimization?” he sounded surprised.

“Yes. Favoritism and Victimization are two sides of the same coin - it is all relative. If you favour someone, then you end up victimizing someone else. While trying to favour one lady naval officer for marrying within the service, you cannot victimize another just because she did not marry a naval officer,” I said.

I also told him that we were going to take up this matter.

“Okay, okay, I will do something, but it is she who is responsible for her problem. Why did she marry a civilian? She should have married a fellow naval officer. Then we would have adjusted her in the same place,” he said.

I was flabbergasted by his argument.

Though not explicitly stated in black and white, it seemed that the system was encouraging women naval officers to marry a fellow male naval officer within the service.

Anyway, to cut the story short, her batch-mate who was married to a naval officer was “accommodated” in some other billet in Mumbai.

“A” remained with us in Mumbai till the end of her tenure and “A” was able to spend the first few years of her married life with her “civilian” husband, till her short service tenure was over and she quit the navy.

Later, after my retirement, I met many young girls who had joined the defence services and I realized that marriage was indeed a dilemma for a girl serving in the army, navy or air force.

If she married a fellow officer in uniform from within her own service it was fine.

The “service couple” would be looked after and, as per the unwritten policy, all efforts would be made to keep them together.

But if a lady defence officer married a civilian she would have to be prepared for a long distance marriage.

And if she did not marry while in service, by the time she completed her short service tenure of 7 or 10 years, she would be well past what is considered to be the “marriageable age” in India and it would be difficult for her to find a suitable groom.

Considering this predicament, that is probably why most girls who join the defence forces prefer to marry a fellow male officer within the same service.

Maybe, there is some merit in encouraging this trend by giving some tacit incentives, though there may be some concomitant disadvantages as well.

I have observed contrasting views regarding romance at work and marriage within the organisation. 

Someone told me that there were old-fashioned “boxwallah” companies which prohibited marriage between two employees.

(If you wanted to marry a fellow employee working in the same company, then one of you, either the man or the woman, had to resign). 

On the other hand there are some “modern” organizations which encourage marriages between employees and even facilitate in-house romances by giving incentives like dating allowance.

In the context of the defence services - the army, navy and air force - what do you think?

Is it a good idea to encourage in-house” romance and promote “military marriages between male and female officers within the same service?

or 

Should romantic fraternization and military marriages between “brother officers and “sister officers” be discouraged in the defence services?

Dear Reader: What is your view ?

VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Disclaimer:
1. 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.

Copyright Notice:
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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