Thursday, March 7, 2013


The Armed Forces as a Career Option – Then and Now

I am often asked the quintessential question: “If you had to live your life again will you still join the Navy?”

I answer: “Yes and No.”

Let me explain.

If I could go back in time and turn the clock back to the 1970’s then I will certainly join the Navy.

Yes, if I can reverse the clock 40 years back in time to the 1970’s I will join the navy.

But if I can’t turn the clock back then I will not join the Navy.

If I possessed the same qualifications as I did way back then in the 1970’s when I joined the navy (B. Tech. in Electronics and Communication Engineering) then in present day circumstances the Navy is certainly not an attractive career option for me since nowadays there are so many impressive exciting lucrative and prestigious career options available for a bright young engineer.

I think the turning point was the advent of liberalisation and globalisation the consequent paradigm shift in economic policy in 1991.

In the 1970’s and in the pre-liberalisation days there was no great disparity in pay and career prospects between the navy and civilian jobs. Those days, I remember that the salaries and career prospects in the navy and the industry were comparable. In fact, there was a glamour attached to uniform which gave us naval officers a sense of pride which outweighed the slight salary advantage our counterparts in the civvy street enjoyed.

Post 1991, as liberalisation set in, the economy and scenario began to rapidly change and now the flow of liberalisation is unstoppable, inescapable and irreversible.

With increasing liberalisation and globalisation soon there was an investment boom, a financial boom, an industry boom and an IT boom, so many booms, the “growth story” and everything changed.

Today there is no glamour attached to uniform and, in fact, it is the corporate sector and jobs in Business, Finance and Information Technology that have become glamorous.

Today everyone knows the names of the Corporate Czars and successful businessmen and bright young entrepreneurs are the toast of society.

In contrast, if you talk to youngsters you will realize that hardly anyone knows the names of our army, navy and air force chiefs (unless they get embroiled in some controversy or scam which is given publicity by the media).

Change in inevitable.

And things have indeed changed with the rapid progress of liberalisation and globalisation.

Unfortunately the “steeped in tradition” navy seems to have been caught in a time warp because of its resistance to change owing to the deeply entrenched Auld Lang Syne Complex.

Maybe it is the same story with the army and air force too.

The archaic service culture seems to be out of sync with the aspirations of the bright young people of today who are highly educated knowledgeable smart well-informed career-focussed success-oriented and ambitious.  

So if I were a well-qualified engineer from a premier institution in today’s world I would certainly like to explore better career options with excellent career prospects which are more likely to fulfill my aspirations and enable me to grow intellectually, realize my maximum potential by allowing me to make full use of my talents, earn money, create wealth and achieve material success to have a good standard of living and quality of life and accomplish something significant in life.

In the 1970’s the navy was a great place to be in – the navy was not a mere job, the navy was a way of life.


You tell me.

Let me end on a lighter note.

When I joined the Navy (in the 1970’s) there was a recruitment slogan: JOIN THE NAVY AND SEE THE WORLD.

Things have turned topsy-turvy, haven’t they?

Today you have a better chance of seeing the world in a civilian job, especially if you are in the IT Industry.

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.

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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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pradipwritenow said...

Vikram Ji
I am your ardent fan and have deep love and respect for you. Pls pardon me because i am going to tell you some hard facts.
1. You joined navy not because of Money and or career. But the love for the country, adventure, disciplined life and respect from all was in your mindset. even in that time if you would have joined the civilian post you could have got more money plus money respected status in the society. But not the respect, disciplined life and the adventure. To get your job done you would have compromised with Political and Union leaders. To get promotion you were bound to take the ill means but not your actual capability.and pls remember the highest recognition of your talent exposure to various types of work in difficult condition was never possible in any civil type of Job.
I believe even in today you would have definitely opted for Defense services. I wished to join but my physical standards and eyesight came in my way.
Pls do not have any hard feeling. I wrote thid because I love you very much.

Vikram Waman Karve said...

Dear Mr. Pradip,
I think you are right. In my young days I was a patriot and an idealist (I think I still am) and that is what propelled me to the defence services.
I also agree with you that for a straightforward and honest person, the defence services is a good option because of the relatively clean life as compared to civilian jobs.