Monday, August 11, 2014


Ponderings of a Retired Mind

I love reading books (and now I love reading the proliferating “online literature” on the internet too – like Blogs, for example).

Reading is one of the greatest joys.

When you read, you transcend your immediate surroundings, and you are transported into a world of thought and reflection.

In contrast, a person who does no reading is imprisoned in his immediate world.

One positive aspect of my life in the navy is that I got plenty of opportunity to read.

The navy had well-stocked libraries and reading books and journals was encouraged.

In the “good old days”, being well-read and well-informed was considered a positive attribute as far as “Officer Like Qualities” were concerned.

After retirement, I do not have easy access to good libraries, so I have to either do my reading online on the internet or buy a book online and have it home-delivered (via Flipkart).

At present I am reading the Autobiography of Lt Gen JFR Jacob titled: AN ODYSSEY IN WAR AND PEACE  (published in 2011).

General Jacob is a superb raconteur who writes with remarkable candour and has written a most engrossing and insightful book.

The book is interspersed with the author’s candid views and astute observations, most of which seem most relevant even today.

I earlier times, I would have written and posted a detailed book review of this fascinating autobiography, but I have realized that today’s “multitasking” reader has a very short span of attention, and many of my readers have told me that they read my blogs on their smart-phones while “on the move”.

So, I think it is best if I give you small snippets from “An Odyssey in War and Peace” as I read on, which will give you the flavour of the book.

Here is an extract from page 44 pertaining to his experience while attending the Advanced Artillery and Missile Course at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and Fort Bliss, Texas, in the US in 1959:

“I had perforce to study hard on the course as weekly mark-sheets were displayed for all to see. My final percentage results were well into the nineties. There was much explaining to do on my return to India on one of the remarks on my course report: ‘An Aggressive Officer’. (In the US Army) this was meant to be a compliment but the military hierarchy in India took ‘aggressive’ to mean ‘quarrelsome’. I had found that the Indian military hierarchy was more interested in compliant malleability rather than an aggressive outlook. Unfortunately, this attitude continues to obtain in the armed forces today: initiative on the part of junior officers is not appreciated by their seniors.”

Spot on, isn’t it?

Tell me, which do you think is a better Military OLQ (Officer Like Quality) – a proactive risk-taking “aggressive” outlook or a docile “play safe” attitude with a clear your yardarm” mindset?

(To be continued…)

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