Saturday, April 11, 2015

Unforgettable Characters in Uniform - THE “MOTIVATED” NCC OFFICER


The “Motivated” NCC Officer

“Square Peg in a Round Hole”
A Spoof


In his introduction to the witty and insightful favourite management classic “The Peter Principle” the co-author Raymond Hull narrates hilarious professional paradoxes – probably apocryphal – about “square pegs in round holes”.

“I am no longer amazed to observe that a government-employed marriage counsellor is a homosexual” – he comments.

(The book was written in 1969 when the concept of “Gay Marriages” was not in vogue and a marriage was presumed to be a heterosexual relationship).

 Then he gives examples of mismatched “square pegs in round holes” – in fact, the book “The Peter Principle” is interspersed with numerous such droll snippets .

During my long career in the Navy – I have seen many such amusing mismatches.

Once in a Military Hospital – I remember coming across a child-specialist lady doctor who hated children.

She was a rather rude young unmarried lady doctor in uniform and someone commented that maybe she would change her attitude once she herself got married and had children of her own.

I have seen many officers posted as instructors/trainers/teaching faculty who are total misfits as they are unable to communicate effectively.

This happens because it is assumed that a good student is ipso facto a good teacher – so a “topper” student of a course is posted as an instructor.

On a few occasions – yours truly has also been a “square peg in a round hole”.

Yes – I too have had my share of mismatched appointments.

I am sure you too have seen many “square pegs in round holes” in uniform.

Let me tell you of one classic case I came across.


Long back – while I was sitting in the bar at DSOI in New Delhi – I ran into an Army Officer who was Commanding an NCC (National Cadet Corps) Unit at Mumbai (then called Bombay).

The aim of the NCC is to motivate young students of impressionable age to join the Defence Services.

Thus – it is apt that the Commanding Officer (CO) of an NCC unit should be a highly motivated officer – who must be an inspiring role model for his cadets.

He needs to be full of josh and jingoism – like the highly motivated Divisional Officers in National Defence Academy (NDA) and other Cadet Training Academies like Indian Military Academy (IMA)  Naval Academy (NAVAC) Officers Training Academy (OTA)  Air Force Academy (AFA) etc.

Since we were the only two persons in the bar that afternoon – I tried to start a conversation with the NCC Officer (Army Officer  who was CO of NCC Unit).

I asked him about the various initiatives NCC was taking to motivate young college students to join the armed forces.

But – he was not interested in the subject.

In fact – the NCC Officer seemed least interested in talking about his job in the NCC.

He told me that he himself was desperately trying to quit the army.

He had put in his papers for premature retirement.

He said that he had come all the way from Mumbai to Delhi to personally get his premature retirement case cleared.

He told me that after the cushy NCC posting at Mumbai – his posting to a hard field area was due – and so he was busy chasing his premature retirement case – to expedite matters personally and get his premature retirement approved quickly – so that his papers would be through before he was posted out from Mumbai.

He wanted to get out of the army as fast as possible – so that he could take up a lucrative job offer –and settle down in Mumbai.

He told me that he had got an attractive job offer from a prestigious firm in Mumbai.

He also told me that the firm wanted him to join quickly – so time was running out for him.

Also – if he got posted out meanwhile to a field area – it would mean the end of this great opportunity for a successful second innings in the civvy street.

From the bitter way in which he complained about his army career – it was evident that he was quite fed up of army life.

The NCC Officer was especially bitter about being sidelined from the mainstream Army and being unceremoniously “dumped” into the NCC.

He was desperate to get his premature retirement through – and it was evident that all his attention and energies were devoted to chasing his premature retirement case.

No wonder – he was least interested in NCC activities.

The NCC Officer was hardly an “inspiring role model” to motivate youngsters to join the Armed Forces.

Tell me – can an officer – who is so disillusioned with the army – that he desperately wants to quit the army – motivate youngsters to join the Army?

During my long career in the Navy – I saw many officers  – who themselves were in dire need of “motivation”  – being posted to the NCC to motivate youngsters.

Quite an irony – isn’t it?

If you really want to motivate impressionable young minds and inspire them to join the Defence Services – why not post young unmarried officers who are full of “josh”, patriotic zeal and nationalistic fervour to the NCC?

Will such “motivated” young officers not be better “role models” to inspire youth to join the Defence Services?

Why post disillusioned and demoralized superseded officers in NCC – or old “re-employed” officers who are “over the hill” – or officers on the verge of superannuation – who just do “timepass” in NCC appointments?

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

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. This story is 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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© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Revised version my my article written by me in the year 2014 and posted online be me Vikram Karve earlier in my Blog - Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve at url:

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