Sunday, March 9, 2014


Humor in and out of Uniform

Incoherent Ramblings of a Retired Mind


After attending a few meets of the Navy Foundation Pune Charter (or is it Pune “Chapter”); I realized that, at least in Pune, there are two types of Retired Naval Officers:

1. Those who have fully retired.

2. Those who a pursuing a “second innings” – most of them in the merchant navy and a few in the corporate sector and industry.

For the first category, pension is their only source of income, and they depend on their pension for sustenance.

For the second category, pension is “pocket money”.

Surprisingly, it is the second category of persons who seem to be concerned about “One Rank One Pension” (OROP).

One such retired naval officer, who quit after 20 years, and is doing well in the merchant navy, called me up one afternoon when I was enjoying my siesta.

(Yes – I belong to the first category of “fully retired officers” who spend their time “doing nothing” and hence I was enjoying my daily afternoon siesta where I drift off to sleep listening to old songs playing on Vividh Bharati)

I ignored the ringing of the mobile phone for some time, but the unknown number was calling again and again, so I picked up thinking is must be important.

The officer identified himself and I recognized him.

He wanted to know details of OROP – how it would be calculated, how much he would get, how much would I get, about arrears of pension, etc etc etc

“Look here – you have woken me up from my sleep and my head is a bit cloudy. Please can you ring up later?” I said.

But the officer went on and on, asking all sorts of questions about OROP.

“You know me – I was not bothered about money matters even when I was in service. I am quite clueless. Just wait for the 30th of April 2014 and you will come to know the exact amount of benefit,” I said.

But the officer was incessant: “When did you retire? How much pension do you get? I retired in XXXX – I am very keen to know exactly how much my pension increase because of OROP. Where can I find out? Is there a website where all this is given? Do you know someone in CDA?”

“Tell me one thing – you earn so much money in the merchant navy. Your pension must be like “chicken feed” for you. What difference does it make to you how much your pension increases due to OROP?” I asked him.

“What are you saying? I need to know my proper entitlement and see that I get it – after all, it is a matter of money,” he said.

I disconnected, and as I drifted back to sleep, the words, which were the key to his mind-set, perambulated in my mind: “it is a matter of money”

I can understand an old aged impoverished soldier surviving on a meager pension being worried about OROP.

But when I look around, I find that relatively well-off senior officers seem to be going hyper over OROP, both in real life and in cyberspace.

A paradox, isn’t it?

On 30th April 2014, the mystery of OROP will be uncovered.

Some will be happy, some will be disappointed, and some will be unconcerned.

Just like the two kinds of retired veterans, I have seen two types of Naval Officers:

1. Those don’t give a damn about money and enjoy the feast of life which the navy offers you.

2. The money-minded types who are forever obsessed with their “entitlements” and “claims” – those penny pinching officers who scrupulously check each and every item of their mess bills.

A veteran air force aviator once advised budding youngsters who wanted to volunteer for aviation: “Suppose you don’t get any flying bounty, no flying allowance, and no perks, nothing extra – do you still want to become a pilot? If you get zero monetary benefit, will you still join? Become a pilot only if you love flying.”

I think it is the same with submarines.

And on a broader level, it is the same with the navy, and all the armed forces.

That is why, to everyone who wants to join the armed forces, I say:

Fauji life is not a “matter of money”. If you are a money-minded type, better do something else. There is no point in being a “businessman 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. 
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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.
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