Wednesday, October 16, 2013



Ramblings of a Retired Mind

This story is a yarn. It is a work of fiction. The characters and setting do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. 

In the Navy I found two types of officers:

1. Sincere Officers who genuinely did the work

2. Charlatans who dishonestly usurped the credit

Once when we worked in a team, we had one such imposter.

This charlatan always avoided doing any actual work but discreetly kept track of what was going on.

As is the case with most “con artists” this officer possessed excellent “communication skills” and thanks to his “gift of the gab” he excelled in “hogging the limelight” in the presence of senior officers.

In fact, this “fraud officer” had created an impression in the eyes of senior officers that it was he who was doing most of the work in the team.

He also succeeded in projecting an image of the rest of his fellow-officers of the team as lazy “shammers”.

Of course, in due course, we exposed him by employing “disinformation shock” techniques of “information warfare”, but that is another story.

Let me tell you another interesting story that happened a long time ago when we were on the faculty of a premier inter-service institution for higher education.

A student officer wrote a research paper based on his Master’s Dissertation.

It was decided to send this paper to a prestigious professional journal for publication.

As was the custom in academia, the student officer (let us call him “A”) wrote his name first as the principal author and included the name of his dissertation guide (let us call him “B”) at the second place as co-author.

The research paper authored by “A” and “B” was duly forwarded through “proper channel”.

The Head of Department (let us call him “C”) read the research paper and was impressed by the high quality of work.

He was quite sure that this top-quality research paper would be accepted by the prestigious journal for publication and this would bring laurels to the department and institution.

The Head of Department “C” called the student officer “A” and the faculty guide “B” and said to them: “You have done outstanding research work and written an excellent paper. Well done. Why don’t you include my name as a co-author? After all I am the Head of Department and gave you all the help you wanted, didn’t I?”

“Sir, we have included your name in the acknowledgements paragraph at the end of the paper,” the guide “B” said.

“I would like my name to be mentioned as an author. After all, you are the guide but you too have included your name as an author haven’t you?” the Head of Department “C” retorted to the guide “B”.

So the research paper now had 3 authors – “A” the actual researcher, “B” his guide and “C” the Head of Department.

As the paper progressed through the hierarchy, the Dean “D” decided to add his name too.

The Dean, who was a careerist naval officer, knew that in the academia, a lot of importance was given to research publications.

He knew that in his present “academic” appointment publishing papers was considered as a “feather in his cap” and this would boost his ACR (performance appraisal report) and enhance his promotion prospects.

Also, such “academic achievements” would add value to his CV when he would look for job in his second innings after retirement.

So the Dean “D” (who hardly did any research work) was in the habit of adding his name as co-author to all research papers going out of the institution.

So the paper now had four authors:

1. “A” the researcher

2. “B” the guide

3. “C” the Head of Department

4. “D” the Dean.

The research paper was sent to Headquarters for final clearance and forwarding to the journal.

After due process, one fine day, the paper landed on the desk of an administrative staff officer who was to forward it to the journal.

The administrative officer was a most rank conscious officer.

The moment he saw the paper he sensed something was wrong.

“Why is the name of the junior-most officer on top?” he wondered.

Then he noticed that the names were written in reverse order of seniority – the name of “A” (Lieutenant) was on top followed by “B” (Lieutenant Commander) then “C” (Commander) and lastly “D” (Commodore) whose name was at the bottom of the list.

This “breach of protocol” irked him and was unacceptable. In the defence services, rank and seniority were sacrosanct and the “pecking order” had to be maintained at all costs.

The administrative officer decided to correct things.

He called his clerk and told him retype the names of the authors in order of seniority – the senior-most “D” on top followed by “C” “B” and “A”.

The research journal had a policy of restricting the number of authors to a maximum of three.

So they duly “chopped off” the name of the fourth author “A”.

When the research paper was finally published, the name of the Dean “D” appeared on top as the principal author, followed by the names of the Head of Department “C” and guide “B” as co-authors.

The name of the actual researcher “A” did not figure anywhere.

The name of “A” was nowhere to be seen.

Looking at the paper as it appeared in the journal, it seemed that the paper had been authored by the Dean “D”, the Head of Department “C” and the guide “B”.

Of course, the Dean “D” got the maximum credit as the principal author although he did not have even the slightest clue about the actual research work.

What a travesty?

“A” who slogged for over one year and did all the research work and wrote the excellent paper did not get any credit for his efforts and the laurels were usurped by his seniors “D” “C” and “B”.

That is why I say that there are two types of officers:

1. Sincere Officers who genuinely do the work

2. Charlatans who dishonestly usurp the credit

And it is due to the unsung efforts of the first type of sincere officer that things are running fine.

Of course, I have seen some “hybrid officers” who are a combination of the two types (gentleman + charlatan) – the “careerist” officer who works hard and makes sure that he gets the credit. 

We used to joke that this type of officer was “married to the navy”

I will tell you a few hilarious yarns about some “married to the navy” officers later in my blog.

Look around, observe your workplace and identify the sincere types, the charlatans, and, of course, the careerist “married to the organization” types.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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. 

All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
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)

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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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