Friday, January 16, 2015



Hilarious Memories of My Navy Life
A Spoof



Once in a while, when I hark back to my glorious days in the Navy, I recall such hilarious instances that I burst out laughing.

Here is one such amusing episode – it happened in the year 1989.

I was very keen on doing the staff college course so I studied sincerely, prepared well, and qualified my staff college exam with flying colours at the first opportunity in 1986. 

I had qualified in my first attempt.

Though a merit list was not declared, I had written all papers in the exam so well that I was sure that I was somewhere on the top of the merit list.

Thereafter, I completed my mandatory “sea time” and in early 1989 I thought I would be sent for staff college that year. 

After all, I had qualified the exam in my first attempt a few years ago.

But to my surprise, and dismay, I found that my name did not figure on the list. 

I was also taken aback to see that the names of some who had cleared the exam in the second and third attempts included in the list. 

Now it was clear to me as to why there was a reluctance to openly declare the entrance exam merit list immediately after the examination.

Those days, in the Navy, you just had to “qualify” in the exam. 

Nomination was done by the powers-that-be on other factors. 

Your performance in the exam, the marks you got, your position in merit, or whether you had passed in the first attempt or in multiple attempts, all these things did not matter - unlike in the Army, where your performance in the exam was all that mattered for selection for staff college.

I felt that I deserved to go to staff college. 

After all I had cleared the qualifying exam in my first attempt and completed my mandatory sea time.

Once while we were discussing this during a PLD in the wardroom, the Captain and XO advised me to write a DO letter to my appointer in DOP, Naval Headquarters.

So I wrote a DO letter to the concerned officer at Naval Headquarters.

A few days later I received a classic reply whose gist was as follows:

1. Yes, I had qualified the staff college entrance exam in the first attempt which was very creditable and praiseworthy.

2. However, a few years back, I had been selected for an M. Tech. (Master of Technology) course at IIT Delhi and I had successfully completed my M. Tech. in 1983.

3. As per the existing policy, M. Tech. qualified officers were not being empanelled for staff college. This was in order to give equitable opportunity to all officers in training courses and also because an M. Tech. degree from an IIT was considered a higher qualification than the M. Sc. Degree given after staff college.

4. Hence, I was not being sent to staff college in the current year.

So far, the logic given was perfectly fine, but what followed was a classic non sequitur:

5. However, this policy (of not sending M. Tech. qualified officers to staff college) may be reviewed and, in the future, it was quite possible that some M. Tech. officers may be empanelled for staff college. 

6. But even if the policy is changed in the future, I would not be eligible for staff college, as at that future point of time I would be too senior and out of the “seniority bracket” for empanelment to the staff college course. 

While signing off, my appointer in DOP assured me that I was doing very well in my career and wished me well.

I showed this classic letter to my Ship’s Captain who had a hearty laugh and he said to me: “Bad Luck. You can forget about staff college. But it looks like they want to send some ‘blue-eyed-boy’ who has done M. Tech, and who is junior to you, to staff college.”

Sure enough, two years later, an M. Tech. qualified officer was sent to staff college (it looks like the “policy” was indeed changed to suit the particular officer).

I do not know what is the policy now, maybe it has changed again, or there may have been many policy flip flops.

But I have seen many such examples of Catch-22 “Flexible” Human Resource Management Policies to favour cronies or “eliminate” contenders, as the case may be, and create “lines of succession”, and even the media has reported on various “succession battles” in the services from time to time.

It seems they have honed the art of adroit HR Management by policy flip flops - the euphemism for “Flip Flop being “Flexible”. 

In my next blog post, I will tell you about one more instance of “Flexible” HR Management which I came across a few years later in my career.

Till then, have a good laugh.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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1. This story 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. All stories in this blog are 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.

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Revised Version of my Article earlier p

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