Sunday, November 22, 2015

Defence Services – How to Enjoy your Career and Retirement

The 6 P’s of Military Life
Incoherent Ramblings of a Retired Mind
A Spoof


Sometime ago  I met an anxious army officer worried about his career prospects (he was worried about his promotion prospects in view of a recently introduced Command Exit Model Promotion Policy – as he described it).

In fact – during their careers – the factor that causes tremendous anxiety to most Defence Officers is Promotion to the Next Rank – since – in the Armed Forces - Rank means everything.

Military Veterans are worried about One-Rank-One-Pension (OROP) – and – even after the notification – there is dissatisfaction – and the OROP agitation continues.

A few days ago – the 7th Central Pay Commission (7 CPC) Recommendations were announced – and in the 7 CPC recommendations too – many Faujis” feel that the Defence Services have been given a raw deal as compared to the Civil Services.

There are frequent reports of litigation by Armed Forces Personnel and Veterans in Tribunals and Courts – mostly regarding promotion and money issues.

In general – a perception is developing that Faujis and Veterans are getting a raw deal – and – this is creating negative vibes about the Defence Services.

This prompts me to delve into my “Self Help” Archives  and pull out this article I wrote many years ago  but – which I feel is still most relevant for military officers and veterans – especially in the present circumstances. 

Do read these tips if you are an aspirant Fauji” – and – also – I feel that these self-help tips may be useful for those still serving  and for retired veterans too.


The 6 P’s of Military Life – Self Help for Faujis by Vikram Karve

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 chapati (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 3 Services at IAT Pune many years ago  advised us:

If you want to enjoy service life you should not bother about 3 things:

1. PAY 



(He called them the 3 P’s

I think this dictum of not bothering about the 3 P’s applies across the board  to all careers  including those in the private sector. 

This truism certainly applies to the defence services  and maybe the civil services as well.



Many of us focus too much on money and perks (pay or salary or “package” or CTC – 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. 

Even now – after announcement of 7 CPC Recommendations – Defence Services are comparing their Pay with the Civil Services and feeling unhappy.

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.

So – if you want to be happy in the Defence Services – do not worry about your Pay.


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 Military Life has to offer.

And one day  due to steep hierarchical pyramid in the defence services  you are likely to be passed over for promotion and superseded. 

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 – because they were not promoted to high rank.

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 career prospects. 

And this gap is only going to increase with more and more liberalization and globalization and with increasing civilian supremacy.

You must accept the fact – that in the Defence Services – you will have 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  frequent relocation 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 in uniform. 

By “Posting” – I mean not only the geographical location – but also the type of appointment and designation of your post.

3 P’s

In the Armed Forces – if you are worried about 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 do not bother about the 3 P’s

Yes  be a happy-go-lucky fauji – and just don’t bother about your PAY PROMOTION and POSTING – and you will remain cheerful and happy.

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 you enjoyed your service life.

But one day  you will retire  and then you will have 3 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 your rank  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 power and status even after retirement – and – in the process – they make their lives miserable.

Maybe  this need for power is the main reason why some people never retire  and they want to keep working and holding on to power till their death.

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


Yes Patronage can help you get sops after retirement.

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 – in order to get one of those sought-after post-retirement jobs

Many say that even Service Chiefs fall victim to the patronage syndrome in order to get good post-retirement appointments – and they seem to be looking after their own interests rather than service interests.


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 they 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 ethically 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 in the Defence Services  if you want to enjoy life during service and after retirement  remember – do not be bothered about the 6 P’s.


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

3 P’s after Retirement (POWER, PELF, PATRONAGE)



I wrote this many years ago – much before I had heard the term OROP (One Rank One Pension).

At present – the biggest issue disturbing the peace of mind of retired military veterans is OROP – which is related to Pension.

OROP is worrying serving personnel too – especially the No OROP for PMR Rule.

That is why I am tempted to add a 7th “P” which you should not worry about  “PENSION”

So – to put it in a nutshell – if you are want to enjoy life in the Defence Services – or are thinking of a career in the Armed Forces  do remember the 7 P’s you should not bother about too much.

Do Not Worry about the 7 P’s


Dear Fellow Officer (Serving and Retired): 

Try it – stop worrying about these 7 P’s and see for yourself how you can enjoy life. 

It works – you can take my word for it.

Do you agree? 

Oh  you don’t? 

Please comment and tell us your views. 

As always  I look forward to your feedback.

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

1. This is a spoof, satire, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh. 
2. These tips are based on my own experience and represent my personal views which may not be universal in nature and may not apply to you. You must make your own career decisions with due diligence. Also, do take this post with a sense of humor.
3. All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories 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.

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