Wednesday, February 5, 2014

DOC DANEEKA IN UNIFORM - Hilarious Encounters with “fauji” Doctors

Hilarious Encounters with “fauji” Doctors

Tongue-in-Cheek Military Musings

1. Please read this apocryphal story only if you have a sense of humor. This yarn is a spoof, 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 is a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story 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.

Copyright Notice:
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)

“DOC DANEEKAS IN UNIFORM” – Hilarious Encounters with “fauji” Doctors
Apocryphal Stories and Yarns by Vikram Karve


When anyone asks me how life is in the armed forces (the army, the navy, or, the air force), I tell them to read the famous World War II Novel “Catch-22” by Joseph Heller.

If you have served in the defence services, in all probability, you would have read Catch-22, and even if you have not read it, you would have experienced the essence of Catch-22.

If you are a motivated youngster who intends joining the army, navy or air force, I suggest you read Catch-22, so that you will be well prepared for the inimitable characters and unique situations you will encounter during your military service.

In CATCH-22 there is a character called Doc Daneeka – a Medical Officer or MO (as military doctors are called).

His style of diagnosis and treatment is simple.

In fact, Doc Daneeka has succeeded in elevating medicine to an exact science.

Doc Daneeka fully delegates diagnosis and treatment to his assistants – two soldiers called “Gus” and “Wes” – who run the healthcare system in the military unit on their own with so much efficiency that Doc Daneeka is left with nothing to do, which is fine with him, since he hates medical practice anyway.

The modus operandi of the healthcare system is as follows:

All “patients” (who report on sick parade) have a thermometer shoved into their mouths and have their temperature taken.

1. Those with body temperatures above 102 degrees Fahrenheit are rushed to the hospital in an ambulance.

2. Those having temperatures below 102 degrees Fahrenheit have their gums and throats painted with gentian violet (throat paint) and are given a dose of laxative to clear their stomachs and digestive systems.

3. Those who have a temperature of exactly 102 degrees Fahrenheit are told to come after one hour to have their temperature taken again so that the line of treatment could be decided as follows:

(a) Temperature more than 102 – rushed to hospital

(b) Temperature less than 102 – throat paint + laxative

4. After one hour, if a patient’s temperature is still 102, he is asked to keep reporting to the clinic every one hour till his temperature either goes above 102, or comes down below 102, so that he could be treated accordingly as per option 1 or option 2 above. 

I came across many such “Doc Daneeka” style Doctors in the Military, especially at a place called IAT.

Let me tell you about a few of them.


A fellow naval officer once took his 3 year old daughter to the IAT MI Room (Military Inspection Room – that’s what they call a clinic in the army and air force. In the navy, it is called a “sick bay”).

The officer’s small daughter had severe loose motions (diarrhoea).

The moment he entered the lady doctor’s office she looked up at his face and shouted at him: “Why are you coming here? How many days SIQ (Sick in Quarters) do you want? Just go to the office, tell the attendant, and take the SIQ slip.”

The stunned officer told the lady army medical officer: “Nothing is wrong with me. I don’t want SIQ.”

“Then why have you come here?” the “fauji” lady doctor asked him.

The naval officer pointed to his daughter and said, “My daughter has got loose motions.”

The lady army medical officer looked down from the officer’s face to his tiny daughter holding his hand and standing below him.

Then, the lady medical officer said, “Loose motions can be very serious – especially in children. You must take her to the Military Hospital (MH) immediately. I will call the ambulance and fill up her hospital admission form. You rush and take her to the Military Hospital.”

Later, at a party, the “fauji” lady doctor tried to rationalize her actions: “You see, most of the officers here have come for a training course after a hectic field posting and they want to relax in this peace tenure, so they mostly come to the MI Room for SIQ.”

However, we noticed that she was running the healthcare system like clockwork, in a most efficient way that would have done “Doc Daneeka” proud.

Any officer reporting to the MI Room would be given 3 days SIQ.

If any officer protested that he was genuinely ill, he would be rushed to the Military Hospital in an ambulance.


I have observed another “Doc Daneeka” technique, used sometimes by the ECHS in its clinics, since it works better for veteran senior citizen ex-servicemen.

There is a saying: “Time is a great healer”.

The essence of this ECHS technique is to make the patients wait indefinitely in the crowded waiting room of the clinic and let “time” do the “healing”.

On reporting, the hapless aged frail unwell ex-serviceman is made to stand in a long queue and then given a chit.

Then the sick old man is made to wait indefinitely, for a long time, in a congested jam-packed waiting hall.

Four things can happen while the patient, an ill and ailing old man, waits at the ECHS clinic:

1. The patient drops dead (in this case no further treatment is required at the clinic)

2. The patient faints, becomes unconscious, or goes into a delirium, as he becomes seriously ill (in this case he is rushed to the nearest Military Hospital)

3. The patient gets fed up of waiting and goes to the nearest private clinic for treatment for which he has to pay from his own pocket (the ECHS view is that it is the patient’s personal choice whether to avail ECHS treatment or to go to a private medical practitioner)

4. The patient actually starts feeling well during the waiting period – he is cured by the long relaxed wait – after all, rest is the best cure for many illnesses (and since he has become well, he does not need any ECHS treatment). 

Dear Veteran: Do visit an ECHS clinic and tell us whether you see the Doc Daneekas around.

Remember, the cardinal Doc Daneeka Principle is to make patients disappear, and I think the ECHS is trying hard by introducing more and more “hurdles” like increasing red tape and paperwork, introducing hassles like repeated renewal of cards etc trying its best to make patients go away elsewhere.

By the way, it was also a “Doc Daneeka” type masterstroke by which the Armed Forces abdicated responsibility for post-retirement healthcare of their own veteran retired ex-servicemen by creating the ECHS and effectively passing the buck.


There are many excellent doctors and brilliant specialists in uniform, but most of the professionally outstanding “fauji” medical officers are posted at VIP Military Hospitals in big stations.

There are many first-rate doctors posted in smaller units also, but, if you observe carefully, you can spot a few “Doc Daneekas” too.

I once came across a “Doc Daneeka in Uniform” child-specialist who hated children – yes, she was unmarried, she had no experience of handling children, and worse, she hated children.

A “Doc Daneeka in Uniform” specimen of a different kind, she insisted on proper “paper work” and would not see sick children unless you had got a “referral” through proper channel.

The result was that due to all these hassles and delays, hardly any children patients reached her and she was having a relaxed tenure.

Luckily, we had a Command Medical Officer (a Surgeon Commodore) who was an exception to the rule – he was certainly not a Doc Daneeka in Uniform.

The Command Medical Officer (CMO) was himself a renowned pediatrician, an outstanding child-specialist who loved children.

He opened a Child OPD in his office and we all used to take our children to him for treatment.

But even this magnanimous act of the CMO had no effect on the “Doc Daneeka in Uniform” lady child specialist who seemed to be quite happy at the turn of events since now she had to see almost no children patients, whom she hated anyway.


To keep you in good humor, let me end with the story of another “Doc Daneeka in Uniform” I encountered long ago.

I had newly arrived in station, and during my evening walk, I saw a crowd of young officers and families sitting on the lawns of our unit medical officer’s house.

“So, Doc is having a party, is it?” I shouted to them.

“No. We are waiting to see the doctor for medical treatment,” they said.

I was impressed.

I had thought that our Medical Officer (MO) was a typical “fauji” Doc Daneeka, but he seemed to be such a good doctor that patients were coming to his house and he was so sincere that he had started an evening OPD at home for their convenience.

“That’s great. I did not know that our unit MO sees patients at home,” I said.

An officer looked at me and said: “We have not come to see the unit MO – he is useless. We have come to see his wife. She is an excellent doctor who works in XXX hospital, the best hospital in town. In the evening, she does her private practice here, and everyone comes to see her – she charges quite a lot, but she is really good.”

Wish you the Best of Health – may you steer clear of “Doc Daneekas in Uniform”

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.
Copyright Notice:
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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