Sunday, January 22, 2017

Humor in Uniform – The “Scholar Warrior” aka “Warrior Scholar”

Humor in Uniform 

Last week – I visited IAT Pune (now called DIAT/MILIT) for delivering a “Guest Lecture”.

At the customary post-lecture “PLD” – someone speculated that soon – this institution may be affiliated to the INDU (Indian Defence University) being planned.

I asked: “Is INDU being located in this excellent campus…?”

“Not likely…” someone said, “like everything which is “Delhi-Centric” – they will locate it somewhere near Delhi/NCR – so that it is convenient for retired senior officers and civilian bureaucrats…”

“Looks like it will be more of a “resettlement” facility for senior officers rather than an institution of learning…” someone quipped.

“No wonder many senior officers are rushing to get Ph.D. – so that they can settle down as faculty in INDU…” another joked.

I felt amused  but  I also felt sad.

Once upon a time – IAT was a true “centre of excellence”.

In earlier days – IAT was affiliated to the University of Poona/Pune (UoP) – which has been renamed as Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU).

UoP/SPPU was, and still is, a prestigious university.  

Everything was fine – but – due to the proclivity to “fix” things that aren’t “broken” – the “powers-that-be” decided to convert IAT into a Deemed University – and so – IAT became DIAT Deemed University.

The earlier acronym IAT stood for Institute of Armament Technology.

DIAT stood for Defence Institute of Advanced Technology.

Ironically – IAT was more “Defence” in Culture and more “Advanced” in Technology than DIAT.

Later – DIAT was split into two parts – and half of the institution became MILIT (Military Institute of Technology).

“Why was DIAT split…?” I asked.

“Mainly due to “Personality Clashes” “Ego Battles” and “Turf Wars”…” said a “clued-up” veteran.  

“This is a case study on how to convert a “centre of excellence” into a “centre of mediocrity”…” someone else quipped.

While driving through the beautiful campus after lunch – I reminisced about my wonderful IAT days.

And suddenly – I was reminded of the story of the “Scholar Warrior” aka “Warrior Scholar”…

Dear Reader: Here is the story… 

“SCHOLAR WARRIOR” 
An Unforgettable Character I Met – In and Out of Uniform
A Spoof
By
VIKRAM KARVE 

PROLOGUE

In the Academia – I have seen self-styled “Scholars”

In the Military – I have seen self-styled “Warriors”

And – among Military Veterans – I have seen self-styled “Scholar Warriors”

Let me tell you the story of one such “Scholar Warrior”

Well – actually – it will be more apt to call him a “Warrior Scholar” – since – at first – he was a “Warrior” – and he turned into “Scholar” much later – a ‘warrior-turned-scholar’ to be precise.

But – if you want me to put it bluntly – like most “Scholar Warriors” you see proliferating like hobgoblins and pontificating on TV debates – it would be more accurate to describe him as a “pseudo- warrior” turned “pseudo-scholar” – because – neither had he fought a war – nor had he achieved any earth-shaking scholarly accomplishments.

Let’s skip the semantics and the gobbledygook – we will call him a “Scholar Warrior” – and get on with the story.


THE STORY OF THE “SCHOLAR WARRIOR” – A Spoof by Vikram Karve


Circa 1992 – The “Warrior”

“Sir – you teach very ‘high-funda’ stuff…” the Major said, sidling up to me in the bar.

“Well – military technology is getting high-tech…” I said.

“Sir – that may be for others – but Sir – please but have mercy on me – I am a simple ‘Cavalry’ officer…” he pleaded.

“Cavalry…? Don’t tell me they are sending officers from one of those ceremonial horse regiments for this ‘Technical Staff Course’…” I said.

“No Sir – my ‘cavalry’ regiment has got tanks – but I am a ‘pure warrior’…”

“Ha Ha – ‘Pure Warrior’ – what do you mean by that…?”

“Sir – I am not interested in learning…”

“You are not interested in learning…? Then why have you come for this course…?”

“Sir – this course is good for my career – it is a ‘criteria’ course for promotion and getting good appointments…”

“Oh – so you want to qualify the course without studying….?”

“Exactly, Sir – you have really understood my problem…”

“So what do you want me to do…? I certainly cannot lower the standard of training or evaluation…”

“No Sir – please maintain your standard – many others are keen on learning – but I want to qualify with the ‘bare minimum’ effort…”

“Ha Ha – ‘bare minimum effort’…” I laughed, “Do you know – we have an expression in the Navy – “bare minimum inescapable requirement’…”

“Yes, Sir – you have put it in a nutshell – ‘bare minimum inescapable requirement’…” the Major said.

The ‘Pure Warrior’ qualified the course with the ‘bare minimum inescapable requirement’…


Circa 2002 – The “Scholar”

“Hello, Sir – what a pleasant surprise to see you here…”

I recognized him at once – he was the same ‘Pure Warrior’ – who had been my ‘student’ around 10 years ago.

“Well – I am even more surprised to see you here – on the University Campus…” I said.

“Sir – I am on study leave…”

“What…? You…? You have taken ‘study leave’…? Don’t tell me that you have suddenly developed an interest in ‘learning’…?”

“No Sir – I am least interested in studying – but I was forced to take ‘study leave’…”

“You were forced to take ‘study leave’ – that is amazing – in the Navy it is almost impossible to get ‘study leave’ due to the perpetual shortage of officers – isn’t there a shortage of officers in the Army…?”

“Sir – there is a shortage of junior officers – but there is a surplus of Colonels…”

“Really…? But how can you be forced to take ‘study leave’…?”

“Not really forced at gunpoint, Sir – but I was ‘persuaded’ to volunteer. One day my Boss called me – and he told me to apply for ‘study leave’. When I expressed my reluctance – my Boss said to me:

‘See – you have finished your command tenure and you still have two years to go before your next promotion board. I have found out that – till now – your ACRs are good – so – if you take ‘study leave’ – then – your average will remain the same – since there will be no ACRs rendered during your ‘study leave’ – so you are likely to be promoted. But – if you are adamant – and you refuse to apply for ‘study leave’ – then you may land up getting superseded. Try to understand the situation – since there are surplus Colonels – they may post you anywhere – in some insignificant appointment – under some guy who does not like ‘Cavalry’ Officers – and you may be ‘written off’ – and that will be the end of your career. So – for your own good – it is best for you to go on ‘study leave’. Why don’t you select a course in Pune for your ‘study leave’ – so that you can enjoy a two years paid holiday in your hometown…’

So – I chose this easy course – where I would have to study the least…”

“Bare Minimum Inescapable Requirement…?” I joked.

“Yes, Sir…” he laughed.


Circa 2012 – The “Scholar Warrior”

A few years after I had retired – I was invited to attend a Seminar.

There – I was stunned to see my old friend – my ex-student – the “pure warrior” – who I had taught 20 years ago – and who I had later met 10 years ago when he was a “scholar” – when he was on ‘study leave’ in the University. 

He seemed delighted to meet me.

“Hello, Sir – I am so happy to see you here. Sir – it is great honour for me to speak before my ‘Guru’…” he said.

“You are speaking at this seminar…?” I asked, surprised.

“Yes, Sir – I am the 3rd speaker, Sir…” he said – and he handed me a copy of the seminar programme he was carrying in his hand.

“That’s fantastic – it seems the ‘study leave’ has turned you into a ‘scholar’…” I said.

“Not at all, Sir – I joined back after my ‘study leave’ – but – sadly – I was ‘passed over’ for promotion – so I quit the army – and I was looking for a job in the civilian world – when my I met a Professor who had taught me during ‘study leave’ – he suggested that I do my Ph.D. – and join the ‘Academia’ – where I could enjoy a cool life – and could keep ‘working’ till 65 – or even 70…”

“Ph.D…? Don’t tell me you are doing your Ph.D. …?” I said, taken aback.

“Sir – in fact – I have just completed my Ph.D. a few days ago…” he said.

He handed me his visiting card.

I read his visiting card.

He had written his name as: Col (Dr) ***** (Retd)

He had become a “Scholar Warrior”…


EPILOGUE

I laughed to myself at the quirk of fate.

My reluctant student had become a “Scholar Warrior”...

And me...?

Well – I have been reduced to being a “Keyboard Warrior”…

VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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Disclaimer:
1. This story is a fictional spoof, satire, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
2. This Story and 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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Copyright © Vikram Karve (all rights reserved)  

This is a re-post of my story THE SCHOLAR WARRIOR written by me two years ago in the year 2015 and posted by me online earlier in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal Blog on 31 August 2015 at url: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2015/08/humor-in-uniform-scholar-warrior.html  and  http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2016/03/humor-in-uniform-scholar-warrior.html
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