Friday, December 13, 2019

Humor in Uniform – Musings of a “Superseded” Officer – Part 2 – Fulfillment after Supersession

Humor in Uniform

Musings of a “Superseded” Officer
Vikram Karve 

Continued from Part 1 – Supersession Day – url:

Part 2

Fulfillment after Supersession 

In my previous blog post – I told you that when you are “passed over” for promotion and “superseded” – you have 3 choices: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”)

This article is for those “superseded” officers who decide to choose the 3rd option and continue serving till they attain the age of superannuation.


Let me explain metaphorically.

Suppose you have a steady girlfriend to whom you intend getting married and spending the rest of your life.

You have been loyal, sincere and devoted to your girlfriend.

Suppose she suddenly dumps you.

How will you feel…?

Won’t you feel betrayed…?

Similarly – won’t you feel “betrayed” the moment you are superseded for promotion…?

You have been loyal to the service – but – the service has not been loyal to you in return.

For no apparent reason – the service has “dumped” you.

You faithfully loved your girlfriend – and she dumped you.

You were totally devoted to the service – and the service “dumped” you.

Now – once your girlfriend has dumped you – what are the options open to you…?

Think about it.

You can become vindictive towards her – you can indulge in self-pity and sink into depression – you can plead with your girlfriend to take you back into her life – you can beg and beseech her to reconsider her decision to dump you – or – you can move on in life – and try to acquire a new girlfriend.

Similarly – what are your options when you are superseded…?

1. You can become “bitter” and resentful and start behaving in an acrimonious and spiteful manner. Such rancorous behavior will spoil inter-personal relationships and create “bad blood” in the environment – and – such negative vibes not only affect your own mental and physical health but will affect your family, friends and colleagues as well.

2. You can “internalize” your sorrow, start brooding and indulge in self-pity. Excessive self-commiseration will not only will make you miserable and cause you depression – but it may also push you towards alcoholism if you have a tendency to “drown” your sorrows in drink. I have seen many superseded officers becoming alcoholics.

(As an aside – let me tell you what one witty senior officer said about me when I was superseded.

He opined: 

“We don’t have to worry about him (me) becoming an alcoholic. The bugger is already a bloody drunkard. For all you know – supersession may have the opposite effect on him – and he may stop drinking…”

By the way – I did quit drinking – albeit a few years after supersession)

3. You can “plead” with the service to promote you. This can be done in a number of ways. You can “beg” your seniors for “thumping” ACRs to enable you to get promoted in the remaining attempts, you can take the “official” route – put up representations, statutory complaints and indulge in litigation etc. All this will fill you with anxiety and stress. And – if you get involved in litigation – besides the expenses involved – your mind will start thinking negative thoughts – especially as you keep discussing your case ad nauseam with lawyers and “sea lawyers”. Instead of thinking interesting creative positive thoughts – your mind will be constantly preoccupied with negative thinking. All this will affect your family and environment too.

4. Or – like in the “girlfriend dumping” metaphor – you can choose the option of moving on in life and acquiring a new “girlfriend”. Now – if you had chosen the option of resigning and quitting the service immediately after you are superseded – this new “girlfriend” can be a new job in “Civvy Street”. However – since you have decided to serve till superannuation – you will have to find this new “girlfriend” within the service. How do you do this…? How did I do this…? Read below…


Firstly – you must be clear in your mind that the service has “rejected” you – and now – you are an “unwanted” entity (just like the example of your girlfriend “dumping” you and not wanting you anymore)

You have been brutally superseded – “passed over” for promotion – “written off” – “fallen by the wayside” – “deadwood” – discarded, redundant and unwanted by the environment.

You have been sidelined from the mainstream – you have been put on a sidetrack – and those on the main track don’t care two hoots about you.

So – don’t expect any “sympathy” from the system.

You are on your own – “index” – as they say in the Navy – and – you have to discover the best way to continue your journey in service as a “superseded” officer till you reach the age of superannuation.  

(If some seniors, course-mates and friends are helpful – consider it as a bonus – but don’t expect it)

By the time you are superseded – you would have done many appointments in a variety of jobs.

That’s the beauty of the Armed Forces (especially the Navy) – they make you work in a variety of jobs so that you become the “Jack of all Trades”.

Introspect – reflect – of all the jobs you did – which is the job you enjoyed the most…?

In my case – I had loved serving on ships the best.

But sadly – this job was ruled out – since – those days – superseded officers are not appointed for sea duties – which were considered mandatory “criteria” appointments for promotion.

Maybe – it was the view of the “powers-that-be” that since superseded officers were not eligible for selection for promotion – there was no point “wasting” a criteria appointment on “passed over” officers.

Also – remember – that the moment you are superseded for promotion – you are officially declared “incompetent”.

So – overnight – from being a professional “hot shot” officer – I became professionally “incompetent” – at least in the eyes of the system.

Hence – I became ineligible for “prestigious” high-profile appointments ashore.

Having ruled out these “high profile” options – I explored suitable “low profile” opportunities available to me.

I had done two tenures “instructional duties” – one at Navy Training “Stone Frigate” INS Valsura (where I had taught Naval Officers undergoing the Specialization Course) – and – one at the Institute of Armament Technology (IAT) where I had taught and guided the Advanced Post Graduate Master’s (ME) Course in Systems Engineering).

I had served in Research and Development (R&D) appointment.

I had served in a Naval Dockyard.

I had a stint as a “Babu in Uniform”.

Of the above options – I liked “instructional” appointments the best – especially IAT Pune – where the egalitarian “laissez faire” multi-service environment was conducive to superseded officers – much better than the “regimented” rank-conscious ethos at INS Valsura.

(Though “Quality Assurance” (QA) appointments were considered “suitable” for superseded officers – I hadn’t served in a “QA” billet – and so – I was quite averse to trying out something that was unknown).

As advised my “mentors” – I put up a request for an appointment in IAT – and – thanks to my well-wishers – six months later – I was appointed to IAT Pune on “Instructional Duties”.

(Coincidentally – IAT had asked for an Officer with Qualitative Requirements (QRs) which matched my qualifications/experience – my earlier tenure at IAT had helped a great deal).  

I must say that the Navy shows due consideration to “passed over” officers and tries to soften the blow of supersession by giving suitable appointments and long tenures to them.

Not only did Navy give me my choice appointment – but they gave me a long tenure too – more than 8 years – followed by 6 years at Mumbai.

(Prior to supersession – my average tenure in a station was less than 2 years).

Did I do justice to my appointment at IAT Pune…?

I would love to blow my own trumpet – but – I will just quote two extracts from two souvenirs (coffee table books) published by IAT during its Golden Jubilee.

Extract from page 63 of History of IAT – 50 Years of Excellence (1952 - 2002)

From Chapter on R&D Activities in Wings.

“Cdr VW Karve was the main pillar for many years and made the largest possible contributions to the students, faculty and institute. Numerous papers published by him in national and international journals earned a name for the Institute”

Extract from page 41 of IAT Golden Jubilee Souvenir

From the article “A Grateful Student Remembers”.

“Though not widely practiced, Cdr Karve’s Captain Haddockesque approach to education intrigued me enough to try out the concurrent methodology in conjunction with the sequential methodology, I was already into. It was an eventful and illuminating two semesters under the guidance of Cdr Karve, who was an Institute within the Institute”


Once you are “superseded” and “passed over” for promotion – if you choose to continue in service – it is best to make the most of it – by trying to identify and select a suitable “job” (within service parameters) – a job in harmony with your talent – a métier where you can flourish and contribute your best to the service too.

Self-Pity, Bitterness and Negative Thinking may prove counterproductive to your mental well-being and health – and – indulging in litigation may affect your “peace of mind”.

Remember the “dumped by girlfriend” metaphor – move on – be positive – introspect – discover your “métier” – find a new suitable “girlfriend” with whom you feel you can achieve your best – and – make the most of it. 



Copyright © Vikram Karve 
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. 
© 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.

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© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

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