Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Humor in Uniform – Prosophobia – Auld Lang Syne Syndrome

Humor in Uniform 

When I see some Military Veterans (especially Army Veterans) expressing their views in TV debates or on the Social Media  I feel that these Retired Officers have not broken out of the “Old Mould” – and – though physically  they live in the modern world – mentally - they think they are still “living” in the “British Raj” – and hence  these “Relics of the Raj” display a “Colonial Mindset”. 

I too have seen such prosophobic characters during my Navy days. 

Here is story on the subject...

Musings of a Navy Veteran
A Fictional Spoof


Prosophobia is the fear of progress.

I have seen plenty of this during my days in the navy. 

And I still see plenty of it in the Army, Navy and Civilian Bureaucracy even now.


Let me tell you a story.

This happened was sometime in the early 1980’s when I was in New Delhi.

A young officer put up a proposal to give residential phones to all Navy Officers posted in New Delhi.

Those days residential phones were given only to senior officers of the rank of Commander and above (in fact  even some Commanders did not have residential phones).

On the other hand all Civilian Officers of the rank of Under Secretary and above had residential phones.

This young Communications Officer had done his homework thoroughly.

In his proposal he clearly explained that – within the existing budget  it was feasible to give residential phones to all Lieutenants and above.

“No...” bellowed a Senior Naval Officer, “there is no need to give phones to piddly Lieutenants. In my days  I did not have a phone even when I was a Commander...”

I looked at the Ageing Senior Naval Officer of the “Old Mould” – and  tongue-in-cheek  I said: “Maybe when he was a Lieutenant  telephones did not exist...”

“Oh yes. It looks like this bloody old-fogie was born before Alexander Graham Bell  when the telephone was not even invented...” someone else quipped.

This a typical example of Prosophobia – due to what I call  the Auld Lang Syne Syndrome.

I saw many such instances of Prosophobia in the Defence Services – especially among Army Officers.

Sometime around 2004 – more than 30 years later after the above “Telephone” incident I was aghast to see that things had not changed  and there was still a reluctance among senior officers to give official land-line telephone connections and official mobile cellphones to junior officers because of prosophobia. 

“Why do Junior Officers need Mobile Phones...?” a Senior Officer said, “Official Mobile Phones should be given to Senior Officers only...

Civil Society had become egalitarian – but – the rigid prosophobic mindset of Senior Officers had not changed  and the Defence Services were still living in the “glorious” past.

Of course  with the advent of cellphone technology  now every officer and soldier/sailor/airman now had his own personal mobile phone and no one hankers too much for a landline official phone.

However  there was an attempt by some oldie-goldie prosophobic senior officers to ban/restrict mobile phones in some offices  but this failed miserably.

It seems that the latest target” of the prosophobia afflicted “Auld Lang Syne Syndrome” officers of the “old mould” is Social Networking  and some are even contemplating banning Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp etc for Defence Service Personnel and their Families.

There is a need for prosophobics to realize that it is difficult to stop an idea whose time has come.


The primary reason for Prosophobia in the defence services is the Auld Lang Syne Syndrome among senior officers:

1. In our good old days we did not have it  so why do you want it ... ???

(we did not have a telephone at home  so why do you want a phone at home?)

2. We did it this way  so you will also bloody well do it the same way ... !!!

(we managed without a telephone  so you too bloody well manage without a phone)

These retrograde guys have a feudal mindset want to live in “past glory”.

They are not even satisfied with maintaining status quo.

They want status quo ante and want to regress into the past.

Yes – adherence to antiquated customs and irrelevant traditions – and maintenance of “precedence” and “status quo” are sure signs of Prosophobia.

The world may have progressed but there is great resistance to change.

There is reluctance to progress and move on  owing to the fixation of “living in the glorious days of the past”.

This results in an irrational obsession with archaic customs and antiquated traditions which have outlived their utility and are not in sync with the modern world.  


Another reason for Prosophobia is Technophobia (fear of technology).

This is prevalent especially among those senior officers who are disinclined and reticent to continual learning and they are averse to embracing new technology.

They are not keen on updating themselves and unwilling to learn.

These officers are afraid of getting out their comfort zones.

Believe it or not  but as late as 2006  I came across a Senior Army Officer who was computer-illiterate.

This “Relic of the Raj” believed that it was below his dignity to “type”.

He thought Personal Computers (PCs) were glorified typewriters.

He believed that as an officer his job was to “dictate” notes  and it was the job of the lowly stenographers and clerks to type out his dictations.

Another Pongo was even more hilarious.

This typical Colonel Blimp type old-fashioned “officer of the old-mould” prosophobic officer wanted his secretary to take physical hard-copy printouts of all emails.

The secretary would then put the hard-copy printouts of all incoming emails of the previous day in the “dak folder” every morning for his “perusal”.

He would then dictate replies to these emails to his secretary or write them out in longhand. 

The secretary would then “type” out these replies  take hard-copy printouts on paper – and put up these drafts for approval of the senior officer.

Then the secretary would meticulously “type” the emails and send them (by email).

But – sending emails was not enough.

The secretary would have to take hard-copy printouts of each sent mails for perusal of the officer – and then file all the hard-copies for record – since the officer did not believe in soft-copy records.

All “papers” were carefully filed and preserved.

Instead of using Information Technology to achieve a Paperless Office  this Prosophobic specimen had actually increased the paperwork. 

In many places  especially in accounts offices  I have seen that there is great emphasis of paper-work.

Even today – you can see a marked reluctance and suspicion among senior military officers to embrace Information Technology (IT) and make administration paperless, transparent and speedy.

Surprisingly  once these senior officers shed their uniform after retirement  these same prosophobic officers are seen adapting pretty well to information technology and using the latest gadgets  which is evident from the active presence of military veterans on social networking sites like Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook and in the blogosphere.

I wonder: 

Does wearing military uniform makes you prosophobic...?

Is Military Uniform related to Prosophobia...?


A manifestation of prosophobia is the presence of an anti-intellectual culture in the organisation.

If you observe an undue obsession with maintaining “status quo” and a celebration of “anti-intellectualism” you can be sure of the existence of prosophobia in that organisation, especially at the top level.

You see plenty of this in the Army and Navy.

Feudal culture, red tape, rank consciousness, steep hierarchical pyramid and inordinate emphasis on seniority and obsession with preserving the hierarchy are indicators of prosophobia.

And these attributes are seen in plenty even today in the military and many civilian government organisation as well.

Hopefully things are changing for the better, but you still see signs of prosophobia (and technophobia) all around.

Last year I visited a Military Hospital where they were still using paper chits.

Patients were lugging around voluminous paper medical reports despite the easy availability of hospital management software which could make these military hospitals paperless. 

Owing to Auld Lang Syne Syndrome, Prosophobia, Technophobia and Status Quoist Mindset there exists a marked reluctance to change in the military, especially among senior officers.

There is a tendency to hang on to archaic customs, outdated traditions, outmoded culture and redundant ceremonials which have no relevance in modern times. 

One example of this prosophobic mindset is the system of providing combat soldiers as Batmen or Personal Orderlies (Sahayaks) to Officers in the Army (and also in the Police/Civil Services where they are called Attendants or Helpers)

Do you think this feudal practice is in sync with the modern society of today...?

Do look around you in your organization and in society – do you see prosophobia...?

VENUSTRAPHOBIA  a Phobia which does not exist in the Navy

Before I end  on a lighter note  let me tell you about one more interesting phobia.

This phobia is called Venustraphobia.

Do you know what Venustraphobia means?

Believe it or not – Venustraphobia is the fear of beautiful women.

I wonder who is afraid of beautiful women – men  or women  or both...?

One thing is sure  you may see signs of Prosophobia here and there  but there is absolutely No Venustraphobia in the Navy – yes – there is Zero Venustraphobia in the Navy.


Have a Happy Phobia-Free Day.

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1. This story is a fictional 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. 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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