Thursday, May 11, 2017

Supersession Day – Musings of a “Written Off” “Passed Over” Officer

Humor in Uniform 

Earlier – Military Officers were quite sensitive about Rank and Seniority – especially Senior Officers. 

On being superseded and passed over for promotion – most Officers did not like to serve under their erstwhile Juniors. 

S– most Superseded Officers would honorably quit uniform – by resigning or taking premature retirement – the moment they were passed over for promotion and superseded by their Juniors.

This was especially so in the case of Senior Military Officers. 

Many years ago – a distinguished General – who was the Vice Chief of the Army  quit the Army immediately – when he was superseded for promotion to the post of Army Chief by his Junior.

He did not want to serve even for one day under his erstwhile junior. 

A few years ago – there was a similar case in the Navy – where the CinC (of the “Swordarm” Western Naval Command) quit the Navy – when he was superseded for the post of Navy Chief by his junior (the Vice Chief). 

I heard that there was a similar case in the Air Force too. 

However – things seem to have changed now. 

Generals who were superseded for the post of Army Chief are happily serving as Army Commanders under their erstwhile junior who was appointed the Army Chief. 

The “Moral of the Story” is that – as per the “New Age” Military Ethos – concepts like “Honour have become antiquated – and – in the “New Age” Military – materialism is the new mantra

Over the years – the Defence Services are becoming more and more like the Civil Services – especially at the “Top Heavy” Senior Level. 

So – rather than bother about archaic old world military concepts like Chetwode CredoHonour”, “Military Ethics/Values  etc – today – Defence Officers take a pragmatic and practical view of life.

Hence  rather than quit the service on supersession  and lose out financially and materially – most superseded officers feel that it is best for passed over Officers to continue serving after their supersession – till the age of superannuation – or even beyond – on re-employment – even if it means serving under your erstwhile juniors.

All this reminds me of my Supersession Day”...

Musings of a “Written Off” “Passed Over” Officer
A Spoof


The Navy Promotion IG (Signal) was released in the evening – and by next morning everyone knew the news  who had “made it”  and who had been “written off”.

My name was not on the “select list”.

I had been “passed over” for promotion.

For me – this came as a bolt from the blue – and – I felt shell-shocked.

I was under the impression that I had done well in my Naval Career – good performance in the right courses – the best appointments on frontline warships and ashore – and – just a few weeks earlier – my boss had told me that he had found out from “reliable sources” that I was sure to be promoted – and he even discussed my next appointment in my new rank.

My boss liked me – and he was extremely disappointed that I had been “superseded”.

My boss genuinely commiserated with me on my bad luck – and – he told me to take the day off – and he assured me that he would help me in whatever way possible.

Plenty of “well-wishers” dropped by to show their sympathy for my misfortune.

A course-mate (whose name was on the “select list”) tried to console me by commenting that the most “hot shot” officer “X” in our batch had also been “passed over”.

“By the way – if it is any consolation to you – even “X” has not made it…” he said.

His sly suggestion that I may be consoled by someone else’s misfortune hurt me very much.

I got furious at his fake consolation – and I said angrily to him: “How the hell does it matter to me whether “X” is promoted or not…? Why should I feel comforted by someone else’s misfortune…? The fact is that ‘my goose is cooked’ – I’m sunk – the bottom-line is that my naval career is over – I just don’t care who has been promoted or not promoted – the reality is that I have not been promoted – and that is all that matters to me…”

“I am sorry – I was only trying to console you…” he said, contrite – and he left.

A few minutes later – another fellow Naval Officer came in.

He was 2 years senior to me.

He had missed his promotion twice – he had got 2 “R’s” – and he had become very desperate for promotion – but finally – he had made it to the select list in his 3rd and last attempt.

“Congratulations…” I said.

“Thanks,” he said, “but I am feeling very sorry about you – we all were very sure that you would easily make it to the select list…”

He told me that all the “select listed” officers had hoisted a “Gin Pennant” to celebrate their promotion – and he had come to personally invite to the beer session.

My “inner voice” told me not to go – so – I said to him: “Please try to understand – I am really not in the mood to celebrate right now – but I will surely have a drink with you some other time…”

“I understand – I have gone through the same emotions twice. You take care – we will have a talk later…” he said – and he left my office.

I sat in my office – feeling depressed – when the phone rang.

It was my friend “P” calling from Delhi – a “trunk call” – as they called it those days.

“Congratulations…” “P” said cheerfully – the moment he heard my voice on the phone.

I was stunned.

“P” was appointed in Naval Headquarters – so – surely “P” knew that I had not made it to the “select list” and that I had been “passed over” for promotion.

So I said to “P” in an accusing tone: 

“Sir – why are you congratulating me…? I have ‘missed the boat’ – my name is not in the ‘select list’…” 

“I know. I am congratulating you on your ‘supersession’…” “P” said.

I was flabbergasted.

“P” was a very good friend and I considered him a well-wisher.

We had done our specialization course together – but having spent time doing his BEC being an ex-NDA Officer – “P” was one year senior to me.

He had been promoted the previous year – and – I had been the first person to congratulate him.

And now – why was he was ‘rubbing salt into my wound’…?

No – he would never do that – because “P” was a genuine friend of mine.

I wondered whether “P” had gone crazy.

Owing to my silence – “P” must have sensed my train of thoughts – because “P” said to me: 

“You think I have gone crazy – haven’t you…? But think about what I am saying carefully. Till now – you let the Navy enjoy you – but now – it is time for you to enjoy the Navy…

“What do you mean…?” I asked “P”.

In a genuinely caring tone of voice  “P” said to me: 

“Don’t take any hasty step like ‘Quitting the Navy’ etc. You have a good reputation – and most senior officers feel that you should have made it to high rank. Everyone is surprised that you have been ‘superseded’. I know you are feeling very disappointed too. But – just relax. You just continue working to the best of your ability. Think about how you can realize your best potential – think of a job you enjoy and have a flair for – where you can develop your talents. The Navy will look after you. Talk to your wife. I will call you again tomorrow – you just tell me where you want to go – which type of appointment you want – and we will try to put you there…”

“Thanks. I will think it out and call you tomorrow...” I said to “P”.

That evening – I went on a long walk up Dolphin’s Nose.

I sat down – looking at the soothing blue sea of the Bay of Bengal.

As I introspected – the import of what “P” had said became clear to me.

I decided to live my life to the fullest as a ‘superseded officer’.

Next morning – I called up “P” – and I told him where I wanted to go – and what I wanted to do.

Within 6 months – I was sitting in my new appointment – the very choice appointment that I had requested.

I thorougly enjoyed my appointment. 

It was long tenure – professionally satisfying and personally fulfilling. 

And then – even after this  the Navy gave me good appointments and a stable life. 

I served till I attained the age of ‘superannuation’.

It has been my personal experience that the Navy really looks after ‘superseded officers’.

Most officers show understanding and consideration towards ‘superseded’ officers (of course there are a few ‘aberrations’ – but they can be dealt with).

To the extent feasible – care was taken to ensure that my boss had joined the Navy well before me – and he was much senior to me not only in rank but in service as well.     

I got good appointments where I could nurture my talents and develop myself – and I was given a free hand to perform to the best of my ability and derive job satisfaction.

And I can proudly say – that – I contributed more to the service after my supersession than before my supersession.


In the Armed Forces – due to the ‘steep pyramid’ hierarchy structure – there are very few vacancies at higher ranks – and most officers are ‘passed over’ for promotion and ‘superseded’ at a relatively young age – in their 30’s and 40’s.

When you are passed over for promotion and superseded – you have 3 choices:

1. You can quit the Service immediately by Resigning your Commission (even if it means giving up your pension and forgoing/losing many benefits)

2. You can wait for a few years to complete 20 years pensionable service – and then seek Premature Retirement (PMR)

3. You can serve till you attain the age of superannuation (earlier the minimum superannuation age was 54 years – but I understand that this has now been increased to 57 years – and some officers continue for a few more years on re-employment)

It is for you to take a considered decision in a ‘holistic’ manner depending on your personal temperament, life ambitions and financial status – and after reflecting on various familial obligations in their entirety.

You may be prepared for the career and lifestyle changes for a “second innings” in “Civvy Street” – but are your wife and children ready for the huge lifestyle and social changes when they suddenly migrate from “fauji life” to civilian life…?

Now – with the implementation of the “No OROP for PMR” Rule – many ‘superseded’ officers may consider ‘Option 3’ above – and serve till they attain the age of ‘superannuation’ in order to get the benefit of ‘One Rank One Pension’ (OROP).

The choice of choosing from the 3 options is yours – after considering the Pros and Cons.

But – after ‘supersession’ – if you choose to serve till superannuation –you can have a “fulfilling” life in the Defence Services – if you have the right attitude – as encapsulated in the advice my friend “P” gave me on my ‘supersession’: 

“Till now – you let the Navy enjoy you – but now – it is time for you to enjoy the Navy…”

As I said earlier – I contributed more to the service after my ‘supersession’ than before my ‘supersession’ – and while doing so – I nurtured my talents, found my ‘métier’ and developed my ‘forte’.

The “Proof of the Pudding” is that you are reading this article in my highly appreciated Academic and Creative Writing Journal Blog which is now nearing 24, 00, 000 (24 Lakh) Page-Views – my blog has crossed 23, 78, 000 (23.78 Lakh) page-views a few days ago and the current page-view count of is now nearing 23, 78, 154 (23. 78 Lakh +) Page-Views (and I have other blogs too – so – I can say that there have been at least 25 Lakh views of my stories and writings that I post online on my blogs).

Had I not been “passed over” for promotion – in all probability – I would have become a part of the “rat race” for promotion – sweating it out – jumping from one “hot shot” appointment to another. 

In such a “rat race” career situation – I doubt I would have had the inclination and time to discover my “métier” in Creative Writing/Blogging – and nurture and develop my creative writing skills which have fructified into Books, Blogs and the numerous fiction and non-fiction writings I have published.

Now – you may ask me: 

“How to “Enjoy Supersession…?”

That – I will tell you in a susequent blog post.

Maybe – I will write a “SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR “SUPERSEDED” OFFICERS” – in which I will tell you  How to Overcome “Passover Woes” – How to Realize your Inner Potential – and  How to Live a Fulfilling Life as a “Superseded Officer” 

Till then – Dear Reader – do think about this post – and do tell me your views and experiences – I will look forward to your comments.

Wish You a Successful Career – and – if you get “passed over” for promotion – wish you a “Happy Supersession”

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This is a repost of my story SUPERSESSION DAY posted by me Vikram Karve online earlier in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal Blog at urls: and etc 

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