Friday, May 13, 2016

Humor in Uniform – Do Defence Services Encourage “in-house” Romance and Promote “Military Marriages”...?




A Spoof

“A” was a brilliant young Lady Naval Officer.

“A” had a B. Tech. degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering from a premier engineering college. 

She had passed out at the top of her class in first class with distinction.

“A” and was offered excellent jobs with good career prospects in the best of IT Software and Engineering Companies during campus placement.

It was puzzling as to why she decided to join the Navy despite the fact that she was aware that she would have limited career prospects in the Navy  unlike in the civilian world where her career opportunities and scope for advancement were much brighter.

Firstly  despite being technically qualified  “A” would have to join the Education Branch (since Engineering/Technical Branches are Seagoing Branches and Women Naval Officers do not go to Sea).

Secondly  she was being offered a Short Service Commission (SSC) of 7 years (as was the norm for Women Naval Officers those days).

Being in the Education Branch  “A” would spend most of her time on instructional duties teaching Basic Science and Mathematics to Trainee Sailors.

This surely would not add value to her Technical Experience.

Once “A” left the Navy after 7 years to search for a job  she would be at a professional disadvantage as compared to her “Techie” counterparts  who were gaining valuable relevant experience and domain expertise doing Technical Jobs in the Industry.

We found “A” to be an outstanding officer  and whatever her duties  she performed them cheerfully with efficiency, diligence, sincerity and competence.

Just a few days earlier  the moment she was 25 years of age (the Navy Marriageable Age)  “A” had got married to her college sweetheart  who worked as an IT Professional in a leading software firm in Mumbai. 

Luckily  after serving at different places  “A” had been posted to Mumbai 6 months earlier  and she looked forward to spending the next 3 years with her husband in Mumbai  by which time her short service tenure of 7 years in the Navy would come to an end.

“A” was a lively person  full of life and always in good cheer  maybe because of the first flush of marriage. 

She was a delightful person who enlivened the atmosphere of the workplace.

One day  we were quite surprised to find “A” in a sour mood.

We asked her what was the matter.

“I am going to be transferred out of Mumbai,” she complained bitterly.

“That is not possible,” we said, “You have just spend 6 months here and the normal tenure is 3 years.”

“I know, Sir,” she said, “but they want to move me out to accommodate my course-mate who has married a Naval Officer. Her Navy husband is under transfer to Mumbai. They want to move her to Mumbai along with him so they can be together. So we have to exchange places – she comes here in my place  and I have to go out of Mumbai to her place. I told them that I too have got married recently – but they said that since my husband was a civilian working in a private company  I was not eligible for spouse posting benefit. They are favouring my course-mate because she married a Naval Officer – and  they are discriminating against me because I married a Civilian.”

“Are you saying that you feel that they are victimizing you just because you did not marry a Naval Officer?” we asked her.

“Yes,” she said indignantly.

“Don’t worry,” we said, “we will do something.”

I rang up a friend in the Education Branch and told him to find out the true facts.

He rang back a few hours later saying that  indeed yes  there was an unwritten “spouse posting” policy that a “Naval Couple” was to be accommodated in the same station as far as possible.

“This amounts to victimization?” I said.

“Victimization?” he said, sounding surprised.

“Yes. Favoritism and Victimization are two sides of the same coin. It is all relative. If you favour someone  then you end up victimizing someone else. While trying to favour one Lady Naval Officer for marrying a Navy Officer within the service  you cannot victimize another Lady Officer just because she did not marry a Naval Officer,” I said.

I also told him that we were going to take up this matter officially through proper channel.

“Okay  Okay  I will do something,” he said“But it is “A” who is responsible for her own problem. Why did she marry a civilian...? She should have married a fellow Naval Officer like most Women Navy Officers do. Then we would have adjusted her in the same place...”

I was flabbergasted by his argument.

Though not explicitly stated in black and white  it seemed that the system was encouraging Women Naval Officers to marry a fellow Male Naval Officer within the service by giving inducements like spouse posting policy”, carry-forward of spouse married accommodation seniority, double rations, double liquor quota etc

Anyway  the story of “A” had a happy ending  her transfer was cancelled and she was allowed to remain in the same billet in Mumbai  and her course-mate Lady Naval Officer who was married to a Naval Officer was “accommodated” in some other billet in Mumbai so that she and her Navy husband could enjoy their “spouse posting” benefit.

“A” remained with us in Mumbai till the end of her tenure.

Thankfully  “A” was able to spend the first few years of her married life with her “civilian” husband  till her short service commission tenure was over  and she quit the navy.

Later  after my retirement  I met many young girls who had joined the defence services  and I realized that marriage was indeed a dilemma for a girl serving in the army, navy or air force.

If she married a fellow officer in uniform from within her own service it was fine – and it was the best thing to do. 

The “fauji couple” would be looked after  and  as per the unwritten “spouse posting policy”  all efforts would be made to keep them together.

Lady Officers who marry their Male Counterparts in Uniform get various benefits given to “in-service” couples who marry within the service.

But  if a Lady Defence Officer married a Civilian  she would have to be prepared for a “Long Distance Marriage”.

And  if Lady Military Officer did not marry while in service  by the time she completed her short service tenure of 7/10 years  she would be well past what is considered to be the “marriageable age” in India  and it would be difficult for her to find a suitable groom.

Considering this predicament – it is no surprise that most girls who join the defence forces prefer to marry a fellow male officer within the same service.

Maybe  there is some merit in encouraging this trend by giving some tacit incentives  though there may be some concomitant disadvantages as well.

I have observed contrasting views regarding “romance at work” and “marriage within the organisation”. 

Someone told me that there were old-fashioned “boxwallah” companies which prohibited marriage between two employees.

(If you wanted to marry a fellow employee working in the same company  then one of you  either the man or the woman  had to resign from the company). 

On the other hand  there are some “modern” organizations which encourage marriages between employees  and even facilitate “in-house romances” by giving incentives like “dating allowance”.

And – as we saw in the story you just read – are the Armed Forces encouraging “in-house romances” and “in-service marriages” by giving various incentives like “spouse posting policy” etc...?

In the context of the Defence Services  Army, Navy and Air Force  what do you think...?

1. Is it a good idea to encourage in-house” romance and promote “military marriages between male and female officers within the same service...?

2. Should romantic fraternization and military marriages between “brother officers” and “sister officers” be discouraged in the Defence Services...?

3. Stealing the affections of brother officer’s wife is taboo. With the entry of women officers – stealing the affection of a sister officer’s husband may also be taboo. By this logic  how is it considered okay to steal the affections of a sister officer/brother officer...? 

Dear Reader: Please comment and give us your views

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1. This story is a spoof, satire, 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 and 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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