Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Humor in Uniform - SMART OFFICER versus GOOD OFFICER

SMART OFFICER versus GOOD OFFICER - a story by Vikram Karve
I have observed that there are 2 types of Officers in the Navy (and Defence Services):
Here is a story to illustrate the difference between the two kinds of fauji officers:
SMART OFFICER versus GOOD OFFICER - a story by Vikram Karve
This happened around 30 years ago, in the mid 1980’s.
A young “hot shot” newly promoted Lieutenant Commander reported to IAT Pune as an instructor.
Let us call him “A”.
IAT was a top-heavy training institution, and in his department there were 3 officers – 2 Commanders (“B” and “C”) and 1 Lieutenant Commander (“A”).
Now, since Lieutenant Commander “A” was the junior-most officer, both the Commanders used to order him around, and sometimes there were conflicting orders, and “A” was fed up.
So, Lieutenant Commander “A” went up to the Director of Studies (a Commodore) and asked him: “Sir, who do I work for? Is it Commander “B” or is it Commander “C”? Both of them give me orders.”
“What do you mean “who do I work for”? This is an academic institute and all instructors are equal. But since you are junior, you have to listen to what your seniors tell you – so you obey whatever both of them tell you to do and take advice from both of them. Do you understand?” the Commodore said.
“Yes, Sir, but I still have one doubt,” Lieutenant Commander “A” said.
“Speak up,” the Commodore said.
“Sir, I want to know who will be writing my ACR? Will Commander “B” write my ACR or is Commander “C” the initiating officer for my ACR?” Lieutenant Commander asked the Commodore.
(ACR is the acronym for Annual Confidential Report which is the sole performance appraisal criterion which determines your promotions and career prospects in the Armed Forces. If you are an officer in the Defence Services, as far as your career prospects are concerned, nothing else matters except your ACRs)
Though the Director of Studies (a Commodore) was a bit surprised on hearing this question from Lieutenant Commander “A”, he decided to set the record straight.
So, the Commodore looked at Lieutenant Commander “A” and said: “The Director of Studies is the initiating officer for ACRs of all instructors in the wing. So I will be writing your ACR  is that clear?
Thereafter, Lieutenant Commander “A” totally ignored the two Commanders and he started kowtowing the Commodore.

The smart Lieutenant Commander “A” got a thumping ACR from the Commodore.
In fact, the Commodore was so impressed with Lieutenant Commander “A” that he recommended Lieutenant Commander “A” for a commendation, which was duly awarded to him.
The two Commanders could do nothing but twiddle their thumbs and watch on helplessly as Lieutenant Commander “A” deftly outmaneuvered them.
Thanks to the superlative ACR and commendation, Lieutenant Commander “A” was selected for a coveted appointment as commissioning crew of a brand new ship which also entailed a foreign posting as the ship was being built abroad.
Lieutenant Commander “A” was replaced by his course-mate Lieutenant Commander “D”.
Unlike Lieutenant Commander “A” (who was a smart officer) – Lieutenant Commander “D” was a good officer.
Lieutenant Commander “D” focused more on doing good work rather than earning a good ACR.
The two Commanders (“B” and “C”) were very happy with Lieutenant Commander “D” who diligently performed all tasks the Commanders told him to do. 
However, the Director of Studies (Commodore), had got used to the ingratiating behaviour of Lieutenant Commander “A”, and he tended to compare Lieutenant Commander “D” with Lieutenant Commander “A”.
The Director of Studies was not very impressed with Lieutenant Commander “D”.
The Commodore observed that unlike Lieutenant Commander “A” who would fawn on the Commodore at all times, Lieutenant Commander “D” kept aloof and hardly ever came to meet him unless summoned.
As a result, the Commodore gave Lieutenant Commander “D” a lukewarm ACR.
It did not matter that, in actual fact, the two Commanders (“B” and “C”) thought that Lieutenant Commander “D” was doing a much better job that his predecessor Lieutenant Commander “A”.
As I told you earlier, ACR is the sole benchmark of excellence (or mediocrity).
So, thanks to his shrewd acumen to earn excellent ACRs, the SMART OFFICER Lieutenant Commander “A” had a chequered career and rose to high rank.
In contrast, the sincere and diligent GOOD OFFICER Lieutenant Commander “D” had an average run-of-the-mill career, like most honest service-minded naval officers do.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

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.

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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)

Updated and Revised Version of my story ACR DILEMMA earlier posted in my Academic and Creative Writing Blog 

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