Wednesday, September 30, 2020


One of my young friends – a Naval Officer – he is “swallowing the anchor” and retiring from the Navy today. 

I am re-posting this article for him. 

By the way  Dear Reader  my talent for “Doing Nothing” is helping me immensely in these depressing “stay at home”  COVID Pandemic times. 


AM I A “FAILURE” (aka “LOSER”)...?

A few months ago days ago – in January 2020  before the COVID-19 Lockdown – we had a Navy Veterans Get-Together in NDA Khadakwasla Pune. 

I met many of my erstwhile Navy Colleagues and Shipmates – all Navy Veterans – some Senior to me – and some Junior to me – in Service and Age – but most of them were Senior Citizens. 

When I interacted with them – I realised two things: 

1. Everyone else was a “Success
I seemed to be the only “Failure

I was the only one 
“Doing Nothing” 

Let me dwell on the second point – “Doing Nothing”.

Many of my fellow Navy Veterans were busy with their “Second Innings

Most of them said that t
hey were 
working (or had worked)  after retirement in various careers. 

ll had “Success Stories

ost had “succeeded
” in the Navy. 

Many had “succeeded” 
 after retirement from the Navy
–  in their post-retirement second careers in the civilian world. 

I seemed to be the only 
– a consistent “Failure

Yes – I had consistently “succeeded” at “Failure – both  before retirement (in the Navy)  and later  after retirement (as a Navy Veteran). 

Yes – I seem to have a talent on “how to fail consistently ”. 

ong my fellow Navy Veterans – I am probably the only one who excels at “Doing Nothing”. 



During our Navy Veterans Meets – or whenever the meet me – many Officers 
– serving and retired 
– they a
sk me the same 
 quintessential question:  

“What are you doing after retirement...?” 

 I give them the same answer

“Nothing. I am 
doing nothing

Hearing my 
truthful answer that I am 
doing nothing
after retirement
– they seemed perplexed. 

With a look of disbelief on their faces 
– they ask me: 

– how can you 
do nothing

– in jest – I say tongue-in-cheek: 

“I practised 
doing nothing
” when I was 
I used to 
do nothing
” in uniform. Now 
do nothing
” in 
“civvies” (civilian clothes)...!!!”

A few years after my retirement 
– I was pleasantly surprised to receive a call from one my students – a Scientist. 

I had taught her at IAT Pune in 1985/86 (at the Post Graduate Masters in Engineering level). 

She was now in a Senior Position in a Research Laboratory and she wanted to invite me to deliver a lecture. 

– after retirement – I am quite out-of-touch with state-of-the-art” technologies...” I said, honestly. 

“Sir – please hear the topic...” she said, mischievously. 

“What topic do want me to speak on...?” I asked her. 

“The Topic is: How to Enjoy Retirement...!!! Sir – we want you to speak on “How to Enjoy Retirement...” she said, “I have been following you on Social Media and I read your stories on your blog. I particularly liked your your blog post on 
doing nothing
”. I can see that you are really enjoying retired life. We have organised a seminar for Senior Scientists of Work Life Balance and I have scheduled your lecture as the Keynote Address – Sir – you have to come and speak...

My lecture on 
“How to Enjoy Retirement” 
 was well received and appreciated. 

By the way 
– a few days later 
after hearing about my lecture (and reading the same article) 
“Head Honcho” of a premier organisation invited me to deliver a lecture to his senior executives on “The Art of Retirement”. 

Word about my lecture spread 
 – and I got frequent invitations to deliver this lecture on 
“How to Enjoy Retired Life”. 

Ha Ha 
– it seems most people do not know: 
ow to 
“Do Nothing” 

Dear Reader: 

I am posting below
“Retirement” means “Doing Nothing” which motivated my student to invite me to deliver the lecture. 

I had written this article many years ago 
– soon 
after my retirement 
– and have suitably updated and edited it for easy reading on the digital screen and smartphone. 


A few days after I retired – a ex-Navy friend of mine offered me a job in Civvy Street

I politely declined the job offer. 

So – he asked me:

“Have you taken up some other job...?

 ” I said.

so you must be doing some business...?
” he asked.

” I said.

“Then – what are you doing after retirement...?” he asked. 

“Nothing. I am doing nothing...” I said. 

– how can you 
do nothing
” he said. 

“It is easy 
I practised 
“doing nothing” 
when I was in service...” I said.


“Yes. Earlier 
– before retirement – I was “doing nothing” wearing uniform. Now – after retirement – I “do nothing” wearing civilian clothes
” I said. 

The word spread that I had gone crazy. 

– the post-retirement job-offers stopped. 

At the Navy Veterans Meet – a fellow Navy Veteran asked me same 
 quintessential question that everyone asks me: 

“What are you doing after retirement...?” 

 I gave him the same answer
“Nothing. I am 
doing nothing

This answer lead to an admonishment: 

“Why are you 
doing nothing
after retirement...?” 

I wonder why a truthful answer that I am 
doing nothing
after retirement results in disbelief and admonishment 
as if I was doing something wrong

I retired on superannuation from the Navy many years ago 
since then 
I am leading a truly retired life 
“doing nothing”.

I am “doing nothing”. 

isn’t that what I am supposed to do...?

Tell me 
what is the definition and meaning of 

“Retirement” means “Doing Nothing” – isn’t it...?

Many persons don’t seem to understand this. 

So whenever I meet my erstwhile colleagues 
and young officers too 
they all ask me what I am doing after my retirement. 

they seem perplexed 
when I honestly answer that I am “doing nothing” after my retirement.

Of course 
most of my retired colleagues are actually doing nothing.

they try to put on a pretence as if they are very busy. 

hey try to masquerade as if they are doing something very important after retirement. 

they indulge in this charade because they feel embarrassed to speak the truth. 

– they 
think that they will 
lose face
 if they truthfully say that they are 
“doing nothing”



Now let me talk a bit about the topic – RETIREMENT – and discuss some tips on retirement for Military Officers belonging to the Army, Navy and Air Force.

In most jobs you retire at the age of 60.

Sometimes – the retirement age is 65 or 70 – if you are a Professor or a Judge – or you are a Bureaucrat who has managed to get an “extension” – or a cushy post retirement job.

In some vocations  like business and politics  you never retire – and you keep on working incessantly till your death.

However  if you happen to serve in the Defence Services  in the Army, Navy or Air Force  you retire early. 

If you are an officer  it is most likely you will retire on superannuation at the age of 54 – a few lucky ones may pull on to 56.

Only those who attain Flag Rank (and become Generals, Admirals or Air Marshals) – only Flag Officers can remain in service beyond that age – and retire at 58 or 60 – like their civilian counterparts. 

However  owing to the steep pyramidal hierarchical organisational structure – a very small percentage get promoted to Flag Rank.

In the Civil Services 
you have Assured Career Progression (or ACP).

In the Defence Services 
owing to the poor career prospects due to the high possibility of supersession and consequent early retirement 
you have Assured Career Truncation (or ACT).

I do not have the exact figures 
from what I have observed 
it seems that hardly 1% of the officers who join the Defence Services finally get promoted to Flag Rank
due to ACP and NFU 
in the Civil Services 
almost everyone becomes a Joint Secretary (equivalent to Flag Rank) before he or she retires 
– and gets monetary benefits too 
due to ACP and NFU.

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen retire much earlier – most retire after 15 years service at the prime of their life  in their mid-thirties – at around 35 years of age. 

It is not feasible to “settle” your children and complete your familial responsibilities at this young age  so they have no choice – and they have to take up a second career in the “civvy street”.

Officers are caught midway. 

If you want to truly “retire” on your superannuation date  then you must ensure that all your domestic commitments and familial obligations are complete well before you are 54 years of age.  

You must have your own “retirement home” to live in – and you must have enough savings to lead a decent retired life in these days of burgeoning inflation. 

And of course  most importantly  your children should have completed their studies – and must be settled in life.

If you can achieve all this before you retire  then you can indulge in the luxury of “doing nothing” after retirement – and lead a truly blissful retired life.

If you are in the Navy (or Army or Air Force)  it is best not to marry

If you are a Bachelor – you will be well looked after by the service. 

But if you do want to get married  please marry early – and have all your children as early as possible.

Calculating backwards  all your children must be settled in life by the time you reach the retirement age of 54.

This means that you must have all your kids before you reach the age of 30 (assuming that your youngest kid will complete his or her education and get a job by the age of 24).

This is the best case optimistic scenario  assuming that your children study well and are good at academics.

So  you must get married at the stipulated age of 25 (or even earlier if possible). 

Yes – for 
“doing nothing” after retirement 
  Army, Navy and Air Force Officers must get married as early as possible. 

And – they must have all their children as early as possible too.

Remember – for every child you have after you are 30 – you are putting pressure on your retired life – and you may not be able to afford the luxury of “doing nothing” after retirement.

Some officers marry late  or they have children late in life. 

I have seen a situation where children were still in school when an officer retired at the age of 54. 

The poor guy had no choice but to take up a job and spend many years of his retired life slogging it out in the “civvy street” till his children completed their education and settled down in their careers. 

Of course  if you are married to a “career woman” – then it is really great.

You can enjoy your retirement “doing nothing” – while your “breadwinner” wife – she “brings home the bacon” and “puts bread on the table” – to speak metaphorically.

In this respect  Lady Defence Officers are luckier. 

At least in the contemporary societal context in India – where the concept of a “homemaker husband” or full-time “house-husband” is yet to take root – a Lady Officer is likely to be married to a “career man” – and she has the luxury of choosing when to “retire” and start “doing nothing”

It makes sense for Lady Officers of the Army, Navy and Air Force to marry Civilians  who will keep working till 60 years of age. 

Of course  even for Gentlemen Military Officers who choose to marry a career woman  it is better to marry someone outside the military profession  at least from the retirement point of view. 

The moral of the story is that military officers are at a disadvantage vis-à-vis their civilian counterparts – as far as retirement age is concerned.

If you are a civilian – you will retire at 60  or later  and by that age  all your familial commitments are likely to be over – and you can look forward to a blissful retired life – and you will get a higher pension too  due to the additional years of service you enjoy vis-à-vis your disadvantaged military counterpart.

There is great advantage for a military service officer to marry a civil services (IAS, IPS, IRS etc) lady officer – so that he can continue to enjoy benefits and perks of his spouse for a number of years after his own retirement.

Dear Reader  if you are a Military Officer  or are planning to join the Army, Navy or Air Force  remember that you are going to retire early.

It will be good if you can plan your life accordingly – so that you can enjoy the indulgence of “doing nothing” after your retirement.

And when people have the audacity to ask you the quintessential question: 

“What are you doing after retirement...?” 

You can nonchalantly, truthfully and matter-of-factly say: 

“I am doing nothing...”.




There are some retired officers who are “financially secure” and who have completed all their familial obligations.

They can easily make ends meet within their pension.

But – they continue to work even after retirement.

Why is this...? 

Why do financially secure retired officers  who do not financially need to work to earn money  continue to work after retirement...?

I feel that there are 3 reasons why financially secure military veterans keep working after retirement:

1. They are workaholics – so – they are incapable of “doing nothing”.

2. They are greedy – and do not know when to say “enough is enough” as far as money is concerned. They are never happy with whatever material possessions they have got.

3. They are not content with what they have achieved in life – and they want to keep chasing elusive dreams and keep aspiring for more and more “success”. These persons are forever in the rat race constantly comparing with others – and either – they have unrealistic expectations of themselves  or – they suffer from an “inferiority complex”.



The conclusion from this afterthought is:

To be able to “do nothing” after retirement  you must be happy wherever you are – and – you must be content with whatever you have got.

Wish You a Happy Retired Life “Doing Nothing”.

Let Every Day of your Retired Life be a Blissful Holiday.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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1. This is based on my personal experience. It may or may not work for you. So please do due diligence before trying out this technique or following this philosophy of life.
2. All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story 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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