Thursday, April 30, 2015

Humor in Uniform - NEW AGE OLQ


A Hilarious Story from my Humor in Uniform Archives...

A Spoof


Let me tell you an interesting story that happened a long time ago when I was on the faculty of IAT Pune which, once upon a time, was a premier inter-service institution for higher education.

A student officer, Lieutenant “A”, wrote a research paper based on his Master’s Dissertation.

It was decided to send this research paper to a prestigious professional journal for publication.

As was the custom in academia, the student officer (Lieutenant “A”) wrote his name first as the principal author.

He included the name of his dissertation guide (Lieutenant Commander “B”) at the second place as co-author.

The research paper authored by Lieutenant “A” as principal author and guide Lieutenant Commander “B” as co-author, as was the norm for research papers, was duly forwarded through “proper channel” for publication in a prestigious academic journal.

The Head of Department (Commander “C”) read the research paper and was impressed by the high quality of work.

He was quite sure that this top-quality research paper would be accepted by the prestigious journal for publication and this would bring laurels to the department and institution.

The Head of Department Commander “C” called the student officer Lieutenant “A” and the faculty guide Lieutenant Commander “B” and said to them: “You have done outstanding research work and written an excellent paper. Well done. Why don’t you include my name as a co-author? After all I am the Head of Department and I gave you all the help and encouragement you wanted, didn’t I?”

“Sir, we have included your name in the acknowledgements paragraph at the end of the paper,” the guide Lieutenant Commander “B” said.

Commander “C” looked at Lieutenant Commander “B” and said: “I would like my name to be mentioned as an author. After all, you are the guide but you too have included your name as an author, haven’t you? So what is your problem if my name is also included? After all, I am the Head of Department.” 

So the research paper now had 3 authors:

1. Lieutenant “A” (the actual researcher)

2. Lieutenant Commander “B” (the guide)

3. Commander “C” (the Head of Department).

As the paper progressed through the hierarchy, the Director of Studies (Navy) Commodore “D” decided to add his name too.

Commodore “D”, who was a careerist naval officer, knew that in the academia, a lot of importance was given to research publications, and the newly appointed Dean, a renowned Civilian Scientist, was exhorting the faculty to publish research papers.

Commodore “D” knew that in his present “academic” appointment publishing papers was considered as a “feather in his cap” and this would boost his ACR (performance appraisal report) and enhance his promotion prospects.

Also, such “academic achievements” would add value to his CV when he would look for job in his second innings after retirement.

So the Commodore “D” (who hardly did any research work) was in the habit of adding his name as co-author to all research papers going out of his faculty.

So the research paper now had four authors:

1. Lieutenant “A” (the Researcher)

2. Lieutenant Commander “B” (the Guide)

3. Commander “C” (the Head of Department) 

4. Commodore “D” [the Director of Studies (Navy)]

The research paper was sent to Headquarters for final clearance and forwarding to the prestigious journal.

After due process, one fine day, the paper landed on the desk of an administrative staff officer who was to forward it to the journal.

The administrative staff officer, a Salt Horse Commander from the Executive Branch was a most rank conscious officer.

Actually, he was just a “post office” and his job was to forward the research paper, that’s all.

But then, like all “post office” staff officers in Headquarters, he had an exaggerated sense of self importance.

The moment he saw the research paper, he sensed something was wrong.

“Why is the name of the junior-most officer on top?” he wondered.

Then he noticed that the names were written in reverse order of seniority – the name of “A” (Lieutenant) was on top  followed by “B” (Lieutenant Commander)  then “C” (Commander)  and lastly “D” (Commodore) whose name was at the bottom of the list.

This “breach of protocol” irked him and it was unacceptable to a “service minded” officer like him. 

In the armed forces, and especially in the navy, rank and seniority were sacrosanct.

The “pecking order” had to be maintained at all costs.

In the rank conscious navy, putting a Lieutenant’s name on top and a Commodore’s name at the bottom was tantamount to “sacrilege”.

The administrative officer decided to correct this “mistake”.

He called his officer clerk and told him retype the names of the authors in order of seniority – the senior-most Commodore “D” on top followed by Commander “C” at second place, then Lieutenant Commander “B” at the third place and Lieutenant “A” at the bottom of the list, at the fourth place.

Then, fully satisfied at the good work done by him, the staff officer duly forwarded the research paper to the journal.

Now, the research journal had a policy of restricting the number of authors to a maximum of three authors.

Since only three authors were permitted, the editor of the journal duly “chopped off” the name of the fourth author Lieutenant “A”.

When the research paper was finally published, the name of Commodore “D” appeared on top as the principal author.

This was followed by the names of the Head of Department Commander “C” and the guide Lieutenant Commander “B” as co-authors.

The name of the actual researcher Lieutenant “A” was missing and did not figure anywhere.

Yes, the name of Lieutenant “A” was nowhere to be seen in the journal.

Looking at the paper as it appeared in the journal, it seemed that the main research work had been done by Commodore “D” who was listed on top as the principal author of the research paper.

As per convention, it seemed that the other two authors, Commander “C” and Lieutenant Commander “B” had assisted Commodore “D” in carrying out the research work.

So, Commodore “D” got the maximum credit as the principal author although he did not have have the slightest clue about the actual research work done by Lieutenant “A”.

What a travesty?

Lieutenant “A” who slogged for over one year and did all the research work and wrote the excellent paper did not get any credit for his efforts.

The laurels were usurped by his seniors Commodore “D”, Commander “C” and Lieutenant Commander “B”.

This anecdote happened at IAT, in an Academic and R&D domain  but I have seen similar episodes happen in various other situations in the navy too, where credit for work done by a junior is hijacked by his seniors. 


As illustrated in the story above  in the Navy  I found two types of officers:

1. Sincere Officers who genuinely did the work

2. Charlatans who dishonestly usurped the credit

Let me give you another example.

Once when we worked in a project team, we had one such imposter.

This charlatan always avoided doing any actual work but discreetly kept track of what was going on.

As is the case with most “con artists” this officer possessed excellent “communication skills” and thanks to his “gift of the gab” he excelled in “hogging the limelight” in the presence of senior officers.

In fact, this “fraud officer” had created an impression in the eyes of senior officers that it was he who was doing most of the work in the team.

He also succeeded in projecting an image of the rest of his fellow-officers of the team as lazy “shammers”.

Of course, in due course, we exposed him by employing “disinformation shock” techniques of “information warfare”  but that is another story.

Rank Has Its Privileges (RHIP).

But does RHIP permit you to hijack the credit due to your juniors? 

They say that the defence services are a reflection of civilian society.

There was a time, long back, when senior officers displayed impeccable conduct and had exemplary values.

But, as civilian society changed for the worse, some of the ills percolated into the defence services, and a few senior officers started emulating civilian leaders.

Traditional OLQ (Officer Like Qualities) became antiquated and was replaced by New Age OLQ.

The detrimental effects of New Age OLQ are visible if you follow the goings-on in the defence services.

As I said earlier, during my long service I have observed that there are two types of officers:

1. Sincere Officers (Traditional OLQ)

2. Charlatans (New Age OLQ)

And it is due to the unsung efforts of the first type of sincere officer that things are running fine in the defence services.

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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 stories 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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