Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Humor in Uniform – “Flexible” Human Resource (HR) Management – Military Style


Hilarious Memories of My Delightful Navy Life
A Spoof




Once in a while  when I hark back to my glorious days in the Navy  I recall such hilarious instances that I burst out laughing.

Here is one such amusing episode – it happened in the year 1989.

I was very keen on doing the staff college course – so I studied sincerely, prepared well, and I qualified my staff college exam with flying colours at the first opportunity in 1986. 

I had qualified in my first attempt.

Though a merit list was not declared  I had written all papers in the exam so well – that I was sure that I was somewhere on the top of the merit list.

Thereafter  I completed my mandatory “sea time” – and in early 1989 I thought I would be sent for staff college that year. 

After all  I had qualified the exam in my first attempt a few years ago.

But to my surprise  and dismay  I found that my name did not figure on the list. 

I was also taken aback to see that the names of some who had cleared the exam in the second and third attempts included in the list. 

Now it was clear to me as to why there was a reluctance to openly declare the entrance exam merit list immediately after the examination.

Those days  in the Navy  you just had to “qualify” in the exam. 

Nomination was done by the powers-that-be on other factors. 

Your performance in the exam, the marks you got, your position in merit  or whether you had passed in the first attempt or in multiple attempts  all these things did not matter in the Navy - unlike in the Army  where your performance in the exam was all that mattered for selection for staff college.

I felt that I deserved to go to staff college. 

After all  I had cleared the qualifying exam in my first attempt  and completed my mandatory sea time as well.

Once while we were discussing this during a PLD in the wardroom  the Captain and XO advised me to write a DO letter to my appointer in DOP at Naval Headquarters.

So  I wrote a DO letter to the concerned officer in DOP at Naval Headquarters.

A few days later  I received a classic reply whose gist was as follows:

1. Yes  I had qualified the Staff College Entrance Exam in the first attempt  which was very creditable and praiseworthy.

2. However  a few years back  I had been selected for the M. Tech. (Master of Technology) course at IIT Delhi and I had successfully completed my M. Tech. in 1983.

3. As per the existing policy  M. Tech. qualified officers were not being empanelled for staff college. The aim of this policy was to give equitable opportunity to all officers in training courses  and also  because an M. Tech. degree from an IIT was considered a higher qualification than the M. Sc. Degree given after staff college.

4. Hence  I was not being sent to Staff College in the current year.

So far  the logic given was perfectly fine.

But what followed  was a classic non sequitur 

The letter continued...

5. However  this policy (of not sending M. Tech. qualified officers to Staff College) may be reviewed  and  in the future  it was quite possible that some M. Tech. officers may be empanelled for Staff College. 

6. But even if the policy is changed in the future  I would not be eligible for Staff College  as at that future point of time  I would be too senior – and I would be out of the “seniority bracket” for empanelment for the Staff College course. 

While signing off  my appointer in DOP assured me that I was doing very well in my career  and he wished me well.

I showed this classic letter to my Ship’s Captain – he had a hearty laugh  and he said to me: 

“Bad Luck. You can forget about Staff College. But  it looks like they want to send some blue-eyed-boy” who has done M. Tech.  and who is junior to you  to Staff College...”

Sure enough  two years later  an M. Tech. qualified officer was sent to Staff College.

It was clear that the “policy” was indeed changed to suit that particular officer – a classic case of Show Me the FACE – and I will Show You the RULE...” 

I do not know what is the policy now  maybe it has changed again  or there may have been many policy flip flops.

But  I have seen many such examples of this SHOW ME THE FACE AND I WILL SHOW YOU THE RULE “Flexible” Human Resource (HR) Management Policies to favour cronies or “eliminate” contenders  as the case may be  or  create “lines of succession”  and even the media has reported on various “succession battles” in the Defence Services from time to time.

It seems they have honed the art of adroit HR Management by policy flip-flops  the euphemism for “Flip Flop being “Flexible”. 

I am sure you too must have seen instances of Show Me the FACE and I will Show You the RULE...” especially if you were in the Defence or Civil Services.

In Part 2 below  I will tell you about one more instance of “Flexible” HR Management which I came across a few years later in my career.



In Part 1 – we saw an example of: SHOW ME THE FACE AND I WILL SHOW YOU THE RULE” HR Policy

A witty friend of mine who also was once a victim of another such selective interpretation of “flexible” HR Policy had even coined an acronym for this phenomenon. 

He called it DRDO – Different Rules for Different Officers.

And – talking of the DRDO  I must tell how I was a victim of another classic example of a Catch-22 No-Win Situation created by NON SEQUITUR HUMAN RESOURCE (HR) MANAGEMENT:

Long back  I applied for permanent secondment to the DRDO.

My application was promptly sent back to me  saying  that as per Navy Policy  Only Superseded Officers who were passed over for promotion would be spared from the Navy for permanent secondment to the DRDO

Many years later  I was was superseded for promotion in the Navy. 

So  I applied for permanent secondment to the DRDO.

This time  since I had been superseded – my application was promptly recommended and forwarded by the Navy to the DRDO  saying that I would be spared from the Navy for permanent secondment.

However  the DRDO sent back my application back saying that as per their policy: 

“Superseded Officers were not eligible for permanent secondment to DRDO

A really great Catch-22 situation due to Non-Sequitur HR Policies  isn’t it...? 

When you are eligible for DRDO  the Navy will not let you go to DRDO

And – when the Navy lets you go  DRDO says that you are not eligible 

A Classic Catch-22  isn’t it...?

This means that  as per the prevailing policies on that day: 

It was never possible for a Naval Officer to be permanently seconded to DRDO

Of course  everything was possible if they decided to favour someone using the DRDO (Different Rules for Different Officers) dictum  and the rules were bent suitably to accommodate the concerned individuals.

Yes  there have been cases of non-superseded officers being seconded to DRDO – and – and also some superseded officers too

After all – isn’t DRDO = Different Rules for Different Officers ...?



Whether it is the Show Me the FACE and I will Show You the RULE Navy Paradigm  or the Different Rules for Different Officers DRDO Dictum – “Flexible” HR Management can play havoc with your career. 

But  one thing is sure. 

Whenever you feel aggrieved by favouritism and some injustice has been done to you  instead of becoming bitter  it is best to look at the funny side.

Yes  humour is the best antidote to frustration and laughter is the best medicine.

A hearty laugh is an excellent safety valve to dissipate hurt, pain, bitterness and anger.

In todays liberalized and globalized world  the Armed Forces  the Navy, the Army, and the Air Force  may not offer bright career prospects as good as the civilian industry (and even the civilian bureaucracy)  but one thing is sure  the defence services inculcate in you a sense of humor  and  teach you to laugh  at yourself...!!! 

Anyway – that is the best thing for Military Veterans to do after retirement – think of your days in uniform – and  laugh at yourself...!!! 

So – I have a hearty laugh when I remember how I became a victim of two “Flexible” Human Resource (HR) Management Policies:

1. SMFIWSYR (Show Me the Face and I will Show You the Rule)

2. DRDO (Different Rules for Different Officers)

Dear Reader: Do tell us if you have seen any more such “Flexible” HR Policies in your career.

Have a Cheerful Day...!!!

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
1. If you share this post, please give due credit to the author Vikram Karve
2. Please DO NOT PLAGIARIZE. Please DO NOT Cut/Copy/Paste this post
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

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.

Copyright Notice:
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)

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

No comments: