Monday, January 21, 2013

HOW TO ENJOY RETIREMENT - A Guide for Military Officers of the Army Navy and Air Force

Are You Asked the Quintessential Question: “What are you doing after Retirement?”
Musings on Retirement and the Military Officer

Last Saturday, on the 19th of January 2013, I was delighted to be in the beautiful pristine environs of Girinagar near Pune in the sublime campus of DIAT Deemed University to attend the Raising Day Function of MILIT (Military Institute of Training) which is the new name for IAT (Institute of Armament Technology).

I have spent many fulfilling years of my career as Teaching Faculty at IAT which was indeed the premier institution in its domain.

The best thing about IAT is its lovely verdant campus at Girinagar on the densely forested green slopes of the Sinhagad Mountain Range overlooking the tranquil blue waters of the vast Khadakvasla Lake.

It has a “hill station” like atmosphere and Girinagar is easily the most pristine and picturesque place nearest to the city of Pune.

The beautiful sunset scene viewed from Girinagar Hill is a most enthralling sight.

I was fortunate that I got an opportunity to live so many years of my life in this enchanting place.

In the highest traditions of service the Commandant and Director of MILIT had invited all former and retired faculty of the erstwhile IAT (the precursor and earlier avatar of the newly formed MILIT) – the invitations were personally delivered at home, followed up on phone and we “senior citizens” were picked up and dropped after the function.

The excellent hospitality and courtesy shown to us was indeed praiseworthy and warmed the cockles of our hearts. 

It felt good to be back in my “alma mater” and it was great meeting so many old friends, faculty and alumni, and I also enjoyed interacting with young trainee officers.

“Why are you doing nothing after retirement?” asked AP Valavade, an ex Air Force Officer, my erstwhile senior and mentor at IAT, who continues to work, after a successful first, second and third innings, at the ripe age of 72.

Like many others at the function, serving and retired, he had earlier asked me the quintessential question: “What are you doing after retirement?”

And I had truthfully answered: “I am doing nothing.”

This answer led to the admonishment: “Why are you doing nothing after retirement?”

I retired on superannuation from the Navy more than 2 years ago and since then I am leading a truly retired life “doing nothing”.

What is the definition and meaning of retirement?

“Retirement” means “Doing Nothing” – isn’t it?

Many don’t seem to understand this. 

So whenever I meet my erstwhile colleagues, and young officers too, they all ask me what I am doing after my retirement and they seem perplexed when I honestly answer that I am “doing nothing” after my retirement.

(Of course, many of my retired colleagues who are actually doing nothing try to put on a pretence as if they are very busy and try to masquerade as if they are doing something important after retirement. Maybe they indulge in this charade as they feel embarrassed to speak the truth and think they will lose face if they say that they are doing nothing).

Now let me talk a bit about the topic – RETIREMENT  and discuss some tips on retirement for Military Officers belonging to the Army, Navy and Air Force.

In most jobs you retire at the age of 60, sometimes even at 65 or 70 if you are a Professor or a Judge or you are a Bureaucrat who has managed an “extension” or a cushy post retirement job.

In some vocations, like business and politics, you never retire and keep on working incessantly till your death.

However, if you happen to serve in the defence services, in the army, navy or air force, you retire early. 

If you are an officer, it is most likely you will retire on superannuation at the age of 54 – a few lucky ones may pull on to 56.

Only those who attain Flag Rank (and become Generals, Admirals or Air Marshals) can remain in service beyond that age and retire at 58 or 60 like their civilian counterparts. 

However, owing to the steep pyramidal hierarchical organisational structure a very small percentage get promoted to flag rank (I do not have the exact figures but from what I have observed it looks like hardly 1% of the officers who join finally get promoted to flag rank).

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen retire much earlier – most retire after 15 years service at the prime of their life, in their mid thirties at around 35 years of age. It is not feasible to “settle” your children and complete your familial responsibilities at this young age, so they have no choice and have to take up a second career in the “civvy street”.

Officers are caught midway. 

If you want to truly “retire” on your superannuation date, then you must ensure that all your domestic commitments and familial obligations are complete well before you are 54 years of age.  

You must have your own “retirement home” to live in and you must have enough savings to lead a decent retired life in these days of burgeoning inflation. 

And of course, most importantly, your children should have completed their studies and must be settled in life.

If you can achieve all this before you retire, then you can indulge in the luxury of “doing nothing” after retirement and lead a truly blissful retired life.

If you are in the Navy (or Army or Air Force) it is best not to marry. 

If you are a bachelor you will be well looked after by the service. 

But if you do want to get married, please marry early and have all your children as early as possible.

Calculating backwards, all your children must be settled in life by the time you reach the retirement age of 54.

This means that you must have all your kids before you reach the age of 30 (assuming that your youngest kid will complete his or her education and get a job by the age of 24).

So you must get married at the stipulated age of 25 (or even earlier if possible).

This is the best case optimistic scenario assuming that your children study well and are good at academics.

Remember that for every child you have after you are 30 you are putting pressure on your retired life and you may not be able to afford the luxury of “doing nothing” after retirement.

Some officers marry late or have children late in life. 

I have seen a situation where children were still in school when an officer retired at the age of 54. 

The poor guy had no choice but to take up a job and spend many years of his retired life slogging it out in the “civvy street”.

Of course, if you are married to a “career woman” then it is really great and you can enjoy your retirement “doing nothing” while your “breadwinner” wife “brings home the bacon” and “puts bread on the table” to speak metaphorically.

In this respect, Lady Officers are luckier. 

At least in the contemporary societal context in India where the concept of a “homemaker husband” is yet to take root, a lady officer is likely to be married to a “career man” and has the luxury of choosing when to “retire” and start “doing nothing”.

The moral of the story is that military officers are at a disadvantage vis-à-vis their civilian counterparts as far as retirement age is concerned.

(If you are a civilian you will retire at 60, or later, and by that age all your familial commitments are likely to be over and you can look forward to a blissful retired life with a higher pension too, due to the additional years of service you enjoy vis-à-vis your disadvantaged military counterpart).

There is great advantage for a military service officer to marry a civil services lady officer so that he can continue to enjoy benefits and perks of his spouse for a number of years after his own retirement.

Dear Reader, if you are a military officer, or are planning to join the army, navy or air force, remember that you are going to retire early.

It will be good if you can plan your life accordingly so that you can enjoy the indulgence of “doing nothing” after your retirement.

And when people have the audacity to ask you the quintessential question: “What are you doing after retirement?” you can nonchalantly and matter-of-factly say: “I am doing nothing”.


There are some retired officers who are “financially secure” and who have completed all their familial obligations.

But they continue to work even after retirement.

Why is this?

There are three reasons:

1. They are workaholics and are incapable of “doing nothing”.

2. They are greedy and do not know when to say “enough is enough” as far as money is concerned. They are never happy with whatever material possessions they have got.

3. They are not content with what they have achieved in life and want to keep chasing elusive dreams and keep aspiring for more and more “success”. These persons are forever in the rat race constantly comparing with others and either they have unrealistic expectations of themselves or they suffer from an “inferiority complex”.

The conclusion from this afterthought is that to be able to “do nothing” after retirement you must be happy wherever you are and be content with whatever you have got.

Wish You a Happy Retired Life “Doing Nothing” – let Every Day of your Retired Life be a Blissful Holiday.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2013
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.

Did you like reading this article? 
I am sure you will like all the 27 stories in my recently published book of short stories COCKTAIL
To order your COCKTAIL please click any of the links below:
If you prefer reading ebooks on Kindle or your ebook reader, please order Cocktail E-book by clicking the links below:

Foodie Book:  Appetite for a Stroll (a Book of Foodie Adventures)

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 short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a large number of fiction short stories, 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 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.

Vikram Karve Academic and Creative Writing Journal:
Professional Profile Vikram Karve:
Vikram Karve Facebook Page:
Vikram Karve Creative Writing Blog:

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

No comments: