Service Before Self or Self Service?

“Sanj, can you grate half a coconut for me before you leave?”

Any person who takes positions either side of the ‘Service Before Self’ debate must see this picture – a serving officer walking that fine balance between family and nation, grating coconuts in his ‘palatial house’! This picture was captured by our then 10-yr old son who found it rather amusing that his dad, a naval Commander, test pilot & Joint Director in IHQ MoD (Navy) was doing this @ 7AM in the morning!

With ‘grate’ power comes great responsibility!

At 7:15AM, I would’ve been rushing to catch the ‘Army Bus’, an air-conditioned service the Indian Army started in the new millenium to transport officers in style & comfort from their living quarters to IHQ MoD.

It was not always like that. It is believed that a pointed query from a ‘passed-over’ officer brought about this change. He questioned how the daily struggle of army personnel travelling in sub-standard, dilapidated, DTC-quality buses would boost the army’s flagging recruitment campaign even as a ‘do you have it in you’ recruitment campaign screamed from hoardings around town.

Soon, a fleet of air-conditioned buses with the Indian Army insignia rolled into service. Wisdom dawned on the authorities that charity begins at home. Your officers and men are your biggest brand ambassadors. And they are highly impressionable.

Whither Time, Tide & Tradition?

Few recent developments left me pondering whether ‘service before self’ still underpins our conduct in uniform and outside of it. While young officers and men continue to inspire us with legendary courage and acts of valour, some senior brass have done grave injustice to the institution with their self-aggrandisement and sense of entitlement. Today, Lt Cdr DS Chauhan laid down his life fighting a fire onboard aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya while some very high ranking officers are approaching courts with unreasonable grouses. It is a stark contrast.

Are we seeing a slow erosion of values in the military, the bar for conflict of interest and ‘self over service’ being lowered ever so blithely as to go almost unnoticed? ‘Caesar’s wife’ must not only be above suspicion, but must also be seen as being above suspicion. That was the staple we grew up on.

Let me highlight with three anecdotes and leave you to decide which model obtains on ground today.

First anecdote

Two young naval commanders were flying to the US for a highly-specialised training course. Courtesy an ill-conceived & rampantly-misused privilege available to government officials flying the national carrier, we duly upgraded to ‘Business Class’ on our full-fare ‘air warrant’.

As we enjoyed warm ‘Maharaja’ service, our attention was often drawn to a Director-level lady official from civil services in the adjacent aisle seat. She was teaching ‘Gurmukhi’ – the revered script of Sikh religion – to her personal servant (quite apparently a minor, Circa 2006), accompanying the official in business class, as per some protocol drafted & approved by their own ilk.

Alongside her in ‘J Class’ were two Commanders in their prime years who had to chase files for weeks to get approvals for the foreign deputation. This included knocking at the doors of many Under Secretaries, desk officers, IFAs, Joint Secretaries, all the way up to the Raksha Mantri (RM). This is reality even today.

Now consider this. A former General who headed the world’s second largest standing army few years ago has been selected as High Commissioner to the Republic of Seychelles. As of 2019, Seychelles has a population of 95702 – comparable to a corps of Indian Army. The High Commissioner’s post for that country is tenable by a Joint Secretary-level official. But be that as it may. Protocol is for mandarins of the MEA.

Anyone who has ever worked in MoD will attest that such appointments are hardly ever handed on a platter in a system where files have to be ‘chased’ for weeks to even send a Lieutenant abroad for training. Yet, many before him have taken up such offers after reaching the pinnacle of military service. What message does this send to the next rung of leaders or the men whom they have commanded?

Through slow erosion, the armed forces of India today have already been relegated in status to something unrecognizable from a few decades ago. Tasks that Master Chief Petty Officers, Subedar Majors & Warrant Officers did earlier are being fielded by Majors and equivalents. Commanders carry files to junior officials and desk officers under the naivete of being ‘proactive’, duly egged-on by their Principal Directors or Commanding Officers.

Is it any surprise if this system returns Generals who become junior Ministers of States, or High Commissioners to an atoll smaller than an army garrison?

What hope can we then hold for issues like Non Functional Upgrade (NFU) hanging fire in those very corridors? What’s the point tweeting images of dilapidated, MES-maintained quarters and bunkers in shell-ravaged posts of Siachen Glacier to a community that doesn’t know subedar from tehsildar, or colonel from a kernel? Won’t they be chuckling at how our senior lot glibly succumb to low hanging fruits?

Second Anecdote

When the government anointed the next Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) superseding another serving Vice Admiral, I wrote a congratulatory piece welcoming the first helicopter pilot from IN to have ascended to the top office. Almost like an epiphany, I wrote in that article, “we expect only grace from you. Wise men never quibble over seniority or date of birth”.

Well, it was not to be. The superceded admiral approached the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT). The tribunal, with equal alacrity, sent the admiral’s application tossing out the same window, asking him to seek redressal within the system likes of him had themselves curated.

It doesn’t end here. Recently, it was reported in media that one of the admiral’s family member had been accomodated in Naval Officers Mess ‘Kotah House’ in Lutyen’s Delhi for over a decade. This is gross violation of any existing rule of military accommodation. I have known widows who have been asked to vacate their service quarters by the same system once they fall ineligible.

Kotah House comes under the ambit of Controller of Personnel Services, a junior Vice Admiral-level post in IHQ MoD (Navy). Over the 11-year travesty of accommodation rules, many officers and their families have been bundled out of their quarters. But not this family. Can all those CPS who turned a Nelson’s Eye raise their hands please?

‘Why’ is not hard to figure if you know the ‘who’. Recall the CNS who after his tenure from 2009-12 headed far west as the High Commissioner of Canada, a position that could hardly have been obtained without ‘hot pursuit’ or currying favour with bureaucrats and ministers.

After completing the diplomatic assignment, the admiral took up an academic position in US Naval War College, Newport. While he is free to pursue his calling, how does it behove a former naval chief to be on the payroll of another country? Is there such a dearth of intellectual engagement here in India that Service Chiefs after remitting office have to seek foreign shores for mentoring their leaders? Younger brothers learn a lot from elder brothers in Indian families.

Today such examples can never remain under the carpet for long. Even sailors and jawans are on WhatsApp. When the ‘seniority’ applecart was upset by recent government’s decision, should the officer in question have gracefully accepted or gone to court? The answer is blowing in the wind. So is brazenness.

During my short service tenure of 23 years, I have seen some extraordinary leaders and fine examples of ‘service before self’. I will recount one, just to leave you readers with a good aftertaste. All hope is not lost. For every self-entitled mannequin in South Block, there are ten examples of 24-carat leaders in the armed forces. ‘Geeps’ (name available on request) is one of them I knew. The final anecdote is a small tribute to him.

Third Anecdote

Professional and meticulous to a fault, tall, handsome Geeps was a fine example of an officer and gentleman. As the Commanding Officer from whom I received my ‘watchkeeping ticket’, his standards, whether at the con of a ship, on parade or on the sports field, was something that always soared out of young officers’ reach.

These days, every ship is allotted one or two vehicles. Not in 1996. Often a single vehicle serviced one or two ships then. It could well have been ‘CO’s car’. But not so for Geeps. He would drive down in his old, pastel-green Maruti 800, park it in the earmarked slot outside South Jetty when others used to drive all the way up to the ship’s gangway. I do not recall a single occasion where he broke a rule just because he could. His car was his car and the ship’s car was ship’s car.

He sought permission from the PMC to bring his graceful family onboard and hosted a simple dinner where NOTHING extra was prepared or ordered for.

When as officer-in-charge of Sports Fund, I extended a ‘temporary loan’ (within my delegated financial powers) to the Officers Welfare Fund held by a fellow Malayali, Geeps’ sharp eye picked the ‘error of commission’ in a routine audit. Promptly, both OI/Cs were ceremoniously marched up to the Commanding Officer and administered a stern warning.

The amount in question was a few hundred rupees. But, this level of propriety was the rule, not exception, before some senior officers without scruples took high office.

Once considered a rising star and safe bet for at least a 3-star admiral, Geeps was superseded in a sudden turn of events. He quietly put in his papers, walked out head held high, his spine and conscience intact, not a word out of tune. In the week before hanging his uniform, Geeps hunted down telephone numbers of people he served with, called each of them to personally express his thanks and warm wishes. Some like me who hadn’t even kept in touch were left speechless.

Guess what? If I ever sight him in a crowded marketplace or naval institute, I will rush to shake his hand, my heart brimming with pride that I served under leaders like him.

Contrast this with today’s lot, some of whom have politicians and lawyers on speed dial. Some are still left chanting ‘seniority is sacred’ through megaphones. Last I checked, it was faith, trust, morals, ethics, service decorum, loyalty to a higher cause, etc. that were sacred. When did this change? Forgot the cadet’s prayer already?

Leaders, please breathe, practice and live what you preach. Shed the sense of entitlement.

The world is more transparent than you know.

*****************

©KP Sanjeev Kumar, 2019. All rights reserved. I can be reached at kipsake1@gmail.com. Views are personal. Cover photo from www.kaypius.com.

kaypius

I am a full time aviator and part time writer. Between some real flights & some flights of fancy, this blog took birth. If you like it, great! If not, come back later and I may have something better for you! Happy reading!

43 thoughts on “Service Before Self or Self Service?

  • April 27, 2019 at 07:20
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    Thought provoking KP.
    I am reminded of an incident that happened with the father of a coursemate of ours and a very dear friend of mine. He was approved for the rank of Lt Gen and due to some possible/ probable manupulation reached retirement age before he could ship his rank. He was advised by many to approach the courts as it was an obvious error. He hung his uniform in the rank of Maj Gen saying that “the army I have been brought up in doesn’t go to court”. He’s a man who has actively participated in all major conflicts we have been through. I think it’s an amazing example, he now walks with his head held high and I would salute him anyday. Incidentally, his son is made of the same mould. This incident is of many many years ago. Times have changed,…societal values certainly have but does it necessarily need to alter the military value system which should ideally be cast in stone or is it ok to fight a system that one perceives to have been ‘unjust’….that’s the debate… and an argument that serving officers of our generation in this social media active world will need to contend with..

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  • April 27, 2019 at 09:19
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    Good morning sir, I read your piece if wisdom on ‘service before self’ and each word is so true that I could not stop my self requesting you this. Sir, in my small wisdom I feel such articles need to go to our top brass as DO letters with the hope that some awakening will happen before sun sets over us.

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    • April 28, 2019 at 09:40
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      Well written KP. The points brought out by you are real and relevant.
      I left the Service in 2013 after 32 years having enjoyed most of it. (There were some downs as well). What often irked me was the level of mediocrity in service and the lack of effort by the powers that were to raise standards other than pushing out some pompous sounding dictates in the daily orders.
      Unless we make an effort to reach out to our young officers, we will be unable to truly communicate which means we will be unable to groom them, which means that we’ll soon have a generation of leaders with only vaguely understood leadership skills. One should not need to get a job done only through written orders – the written bit should only be for documenting the task for the sake of legalities.
      Unfortunately we are reaching the stage where only the stripe speaks. So is it only the stripe that is holding up the edifice? Is there nothing behind the stripe?
      It would be a sad day when the following tongue in cheek remark were to come true:
      Q. What is the similarity between a zebra and a naval officer?
      A. Both are asses without their stripes.

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  • April 27, 2019 at 09:41
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    Sir,
    It is really a heartwarming content and brings in faith for the youngsters who are looking for ‘Military’ leadership to serve under.
    I wish to speak out my mind. But lately I realised that there is no point expressing our anguish over the current state of affairs because its a distant dream a goal drawing away from us in time and space. So many of us are saving that energy to do our jobs now since the workload has doubled (our job in the ‘heirarchical’ structure and the jobs of the NCOs,JCOs and Jawans which now we have to do) and the assets/resources have been constant in numbers.
    We are being equally motivated by our ‘leaders’ to do the jobs ‘of’ the men up the ladder and down the ladder by sharing ‘in my time’ stories. 70-80% of the chunk have taken the path of ‘self before service’ and remainders follow ‘seniors before service’ concept. Out of the remainders there are few who keep a balance of both the concepts to keep themselves in the race and to feel accepted by their conscience. And the remaining few not even handful unaccounted gentlemen are struggling to be a ‘ Military’ leader or as they call him/her ‘Odd man out’ which is followed by ‘Odd man get out’ as you have mentioned in the example of a fine officer.
    I again ended up speaking so much though.
    Cheers and Jai Hind.

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  • April 27, 2019 at 09:58
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    So well written and aptly brought out the traditions and code of conduct so dear to us, I salute you sir .

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  • April 27, 2019 at 10:18
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    Another masterpiece KPS. I just returned from a visit to NDA with my 18 yr old son in tow. Glad to report that we still are sowing right. So in a world actually running on chaotic rules, maybe it’s time to accept that order and logic are the exception. Heads of many institutions once considered ‘untouchables’ (not Manu code but money code) are now under cloud heads of financial institutions, courts, law makers et al…But we have to relentlessly plough and sow high quality seeds and so many of them that we never face a drought of good crop.

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  • April 27, 2019 at 10:27
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    Sir, the article as usual Is fantastic and right fm the heart. But you seem to have equated the fact that the fall fm the high standards set by our forefathers is the reason for the relegation of Armed Forces to the Lower rungs. I feel it is precisely the opposite. The self made prison of archaic Operating standards is the reason. Am basing this on the basic fact that (am sure you will agree) that we in the Armed Forces have more so called officer-like leaders than the other A grade govt services. See where it got us!!! The officer going to court is I feel right ( though my heart agrees that it’s wrong- this may be due to the ethos embibed in me, whether right or wrong). Next time the defence ministry decides on going off the beaten track, they will have a fear of them being hauled over coals for their decision. A leader has the obligation to fight the bad fight so that their vision can be implemented. If the ideal officers you mentioned had persisted we may have had the navy based on their ideals. They let us down.
    Sir, just playing the devils advocate. Let me conclude by rephrasing a old saying – a go getter in field will be a result oriented officer in higher echelons If imbibed with the right mixture of service ethos in growing up stage, so let’s fix our promotion sys which is completely under the services preview.

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  • April 27, 2019 at 10:32
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    I think the more apt caption would be “with great power comes grate responsibility” but then I would consider your decision final and binding

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  • April 27, 2019 at 10:50
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    Sir,
    Kudos for evoking the Sterling qualities which epitomise the Indian Defence Forces. With so many senior officers doing things which bring down the name of the Forces we need to send such subtle reminders of the Ethos of the services to them as letters. If not anything they will weigh on their conscience – The damage and Despair they have ifllicted on the Glorious Tri – services

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    • April 28, 2019 at 20:23
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      It will weigh on their conscience you said,but what about our senior military and civilian leaders who have lost that long back?
      But I will say, at the end of the day, happy are those who never look at their shoulders while in service and retire at whatever lowest rank possible, and keep working with the dictum” don’t do a wrong thing and don’t listen to a wrong thing” no one can hang you. Mind you I consider army as best service provided you have that attitude. Do your best and give hell who demands a wrong thing from you. Senior offrs in armed forces are weakest people when comes to facing a straight forward junior and still weakest when in civil atmosphere.

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  • April 27, 2019 at 11:38
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    Who is Geeps and which ship was he commanding in 1996?

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    • April 27, 2019 at 14:35
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      I have served under Admiral Arun Prakash whom I consider the best naval officer I ever seen.
      Didn’t know who this Geeps is and want to know. P

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      • April 28, 2019 at 20:29
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        It’s not necessary to know who is Geeps. There are so many geeps in lower and middle ranks, but rare in senior ranks. Till date I only saw one,Lt gen of kumaon who put up his papers when he wanted certain things for troops during command of IPKF, and he was denied. Lt gen Sardesh pandey. None after that till now,I retired in 2015.

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  • April 27, 2019 at 12:25
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    Sir, it was a very apt and thought provoking article indeed. But I would like to give a bit different perspective as to why we Faujis are suffering today at the hands of bureaucrats and ministers. As someone in the above comments rightly said, it is our own prison that we have made inside us, termed it as ‘ethos’, not to question anything that a senior tells you or demands from you. Just do what you are told. I believe that’s exactly what has gone wrong among the forces today. In midst of following orders, we forgot to stand up for ourselves, hence, the erosion of status, pay, values. The reason we have to beg babus and ministers for everything, run from pillars to posts for getting a file cleared. The grassroot reason is that we never stand up for ourselves, say it on the face of a higher authority that ‘You are wrong’. We are so engrossed to go up in service that we even agree to do disgusting works of our superiors, resort to boot licking and sycophancy. Anyone questioning the system is suppressed and never goes up in service. Time and again, as a junior officer, I’m told that we are no one to question the decisions, that those things are ‘beyond our pay grade’ to even discuss. Why has such erosion happened sir? Isn’t it our own doing? Haven’t we read about the legends of Field Marshall Manekshaw and Gen Thimayya on how they stood up against wrong against their men, for their service, by the hands of ministers and babus. Why don’t we consider standing up for ourselves, our men and our service a military trait now? We all know about the dirty politics that goes around to become the service chiefs, even at the juniormost ranks. We all know how much boot licking of ministers and babus the top brass does to reach the top ranks. And we all also know the political connections and being in good books of babus and ministers one must require to supersede someone in chain to become service chief. Clearly, the officer going to court didn’t give in to lick boots of babus and ministers and hence was replaced by someone willing to do so. We already have a serving chief as an example. Everyone knows it, no one speaks about it. And just like Gen VK Singh, who stood up against govt, the officer being talked about today is also being publicly humiliated by govt and govt paid media just like a 10th class certificate DOB was bought up to humiliate Gen Singh back then. I dont believe the officer in question has did or is doing any wrong. He’s more like an example for us to follow, from the present system of not to question the system. That’s exactly what we need to do. Stand up against the wrong and unjust done, which we have forgotten. Nothing is served in plate, if we want it, we need to fight for it. We wouldn’t have been begging govt for OROP and NFU today had we fought for it from the very beginning. We wouldn’t have suffered from the hands from babus today, had we questioned the system openly and not treated them like VIP’s for personal favours. Its our own doing and we are suffering today because of this.

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    • April 27, 2019 at 13:21
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      Yes, I do endorse your candid views. We ourselves are the culprit. Changing times require changing responses, and especially more so when your rights and unwritten assurances from the powers that be are blatantly trampled upon in full public view and media glare. Maintaining of pride, parity and privileges of the forces was duty of the govt. Whereas, forget about the govt. being in your support, it stands vehemently against you in the Courts for the issues which reeks of blatant discrimination and injustice against you. It not only does provide moral go-ahead but spends money in opposing you…
      Sad but true state of affairs in services today. And about babus, the way they treat forces, less said the better…

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    • April 28, 2019 at 14:53
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      Absolutely spot on. We as a service, needs self introspection, other than just blaming external entities for all our ills within. So far no chief has ever resigned against systemic ill treatment by MoD as a mark of dissent. After retirement these same very people become wise overnight and start MoD bashing.

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  • April 27, 2019 at 13:38
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    Dear KP…What a masterpiece, I hope this writing reaches to “those” who “consider” themselves movers and shakers.. Keep up the good work

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  • April 27, 2019 at 14:13
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    The characterisation is rather close to a neighbour, friend n a course junior….both of us were in command n occupying C type quarters at Vizag as Lcdrs,btw two more of his course matesmates n and made of the same mould missed out at Cmdre level….CNS’ coursemates,my guesswork.

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    • April 28, 2019 at 07:53
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      I salute you sir for a very well written and thought provoking article. It is not about being ‘passed over’ or being ‘up and about’; it’s about maintaining dignity, honour and integrity under all circumstances. Our leadership is certainly lacking in this field, on second thoughts, I was wondering how many general ranking officers have commented on the blog ?? None I guess !

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  • April 27, 2019 at 15:52
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    After a long time i came across an article which is thought provoking. I request the author to keep up the good work and publish such lovely write up.
    Incidentally i want to know who is Geeps

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  • April 27, 2019 at 16:01
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    Hi KPS. Indeed a piece from the heart of a man who is pained to see the very ethos of the service he loves snowballing. Had heard about your blog and the outstanding pieces you have been writing about varied topics close to your heart. Still remember our last meeting at the Good Earth (Casino Hotel) at Kochi. You were holidaying with your family and I was busy trying to find out Why the accident happened. Not our meeting buddy but that of the craft. I am a great admirer of Geeps though I am not anywhere close to his shadow. Only thing I have ensured is that my kids walk the same path he did and am sure he still does. It is no surprise that his path is winding and steep but at the end that is the only one that leaves the traveller brimming with pride. Now that I have got a link to your blog I shall try and read as many of your past one as I can and enrich my inner self. Shall also not let the future posts go unread. Fly safe buddy. Am sure that your hair is more like the ‘Copra’ you are grating in the picture in this piece (I say so because I don’t think you can carry a bald head like Piyush G). Keep up the good work both in the Air and from your Chair.

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  • April 27, 2019 at 19:25
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    KPS thought provoking and hard hitting as always. It’s a sad fact that rules are different for you and me and the so called top brass. Hope things will change for the betterment of services.

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    • April 29, 2019 at 02:43
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      KP….
      1. From an objective perspective this piece lacks data. You have shared few anecdotes to support your thoughts. This suggests bias and arm chair journalism.

      2. On the question of ethos, an officer sought redresal in court and this promoted you to question the ethos of the entire defense community. How are you any different when you wash linen in a blog?
      3. From an emotional stand point,you have quoted the example of an officer who lost his life to exemplify service before self and accompanied your piece with a picture of yourself grating coconut as another example. It trivialises the issue.

      As a spouse, I only have a ringside view. However, I can see many men at every rank who exemplify service before self. This is a serious charge you level here. Do take the time to look at data objectively, then I will have no grouse with any conclusion you draw.

      Best always

      Deepa

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  • April 27, 2019 at 19:44
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    Superbly written piece you virtually take thoughts out of my mind and words out of my mouth . a small difference please do allow me to very marginally disagree with you . One, seniority e in the armed forces must be respected and not treated as it is done in the civil that is the beurocracy , secondly only to show a face to the civil bureaucracy / polity going to court purely to tell the system that you you must not play with seniority in the armed forces like you can or may do with other departments…….. Armed forces are meant to be sensitive to hierarchy and seniority, albeit no compromise on capability, courage of conviction, honesty ………………………..and all those OLQs . Lovely read but.
    Regards

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  • April 27, 2019 at 20:25
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    A good piece of article which raises the feeling that atlast someone dared to put his mind on the paper. However, one lingering thought of ‘Why only now’ also flickered as it did when I read the article of holding accommodation at Kota house over a decade. It was further accentuated by the remark my sailor made yesterday that he chose to opt for unwillingness for further service when he was told that he would have to accpt a transfer to Mumbai if granted re-engagement. The sailor said that he refused reengagement for the single reason that he didn’t want tp live in a shared accommodation and also stated that non availability of housing is one of the prime reason that most of the sailors don’t accept for service extentions. We had been living without paying heed to the plight of sailors for over two decades it appears. So ‘Why now’ question arises very strongly. Notwithstanding, I agree the issues brought out in the articles come out as a rude awakening.

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  • April 27, 2019 at 20:57
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    Wow what an article. I would say it must be read out to all cadets and Young officers.

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  • April 28, 2019 at 05:27
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    Dear sir, I did read the piece but it seems extremely biased. It seems u have painted all seniors or so called star level officers with the same brush. I don’t think that’s d case. And also give an example of an individual who was upright and straight forward being overlooked seeming like a martyr is putting things to simplistically. It cuts both ways, I think the attitude of self before service if there in someone is there right since d beginning and doesn’t come as and one becomes an admiral. There also seems a tone of envy and bitterness in ur write up. That it seems is probably because it’s an personal account of ur perceptions and those can be highly deceptive. Warm regards

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  • April 28, 2019 at 07:36
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    There are too many men of straw who have risen to higher ranks because of a flawed selection system (SSB) & an archaic appraisal ritual (ACR). Even the training in NDA has not kept pace with changing times.

    Fauj (read Defence) is now all about I – Me-Myself, this is the grim reality.
    For a small difference read my articles in Fauji India & Victory India series.

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    • April 28, 2019 at 23:17
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      Well written reality of the present time services sir !

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  • April 28, 2019 at 08:03
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    Dear KPS. Well written. It echoes the feelings of the many who were made to chant ” the NDA Prayers” to choose the harder right than easier wrong “and who chose to follow this motto “” Service Before Self” . The reason for such erosion which has been on for years is this ” old age syndrome” and ” mediocrity” breeds mediocrity. I have seen most junior leadership is still committed to “Service before self ‘ motto , some officers choose to attach to senior officers as SO, Flag / ADC. Or their personal staff to move faster and get choicest postings. Senior officers encourage that because they themselvesvwere product of this route. Senior officers need to be taken care after retirement . So post people in favourable positions to ensure continued favours as the ex CNS wife sits in Not a house for 10 years after retirement.
    Few professional officers slip through this system but they are unable to change the system of this mediocrity breeding mediocrity. But things are changing slowly for the better. Yet some really stupid chiefs come & set real examples. Most affected us the army others to a lesser extent. Army has to find a way to clean up its mess to save the pride of India

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  • April 28, 2019 at 10:18
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    Unfortunately, this trend continues . There are two types of officers namly opportunist/ Carrierist. The prevailing trend will continue and keep harming the Armed forces unless opportunist are identified and rooted out.

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  • April 28, 2019 at 10:40
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    KP,
    Congratulations to you for penning down extremely well articulated article! Kudos to you! Somehow feel that rot has been setting in the system; but contrastingly, extremely good officers also rise up the ladder… I can vouch for my course mate, who is scheduled to take on the mantle of the top job, unless these unscrupulous elements upstage the show unethically!

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  • April 28, 2019 at 10:48
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    Very apt and to the point. I am in total agreement with the expressed views. Hope the commanding officers get access to this piece and follow the lessons put across very convincingly. Having spent 35 years in the Indian Army, I too look for a few (sorry not too many) officers I would go miles to shake hands with.
    I wonder have I earned that respect!

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  • April 28, 2019 at 11:14
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    Beautifully expressed… very lucid !

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  • April 28, 2019 at 11:41
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    Sir
    All procurement of large magnitude will have some lines which would have been overlooked. I think we should focus on omission than intention. The Rafle CAG report was chaired by the opposition leader which is case fir all CAG reports hence have not understood is the opposition ldr gave his personal nod on the report. What ever is happening is not good for the country.

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  • April 28, 2019 at 14:43
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    Sanju you said it.Nicely written.I was closely associated with mainly Army Officers and few months with Air Force (snow clearance in Western Side Air Port and Gwaliyor Air Field run away extension )too during my 28 years with GREF/BRO.Heard and seen such type of cases then also but 90% Officers were truly patriotic and dedicated not like the present set up (sorry). after my son joining in IN I used to closely follow the services news and pity those who do the things what you mentioned. What I am today is only due to those wonderful Officers influence and guidence in shaping my carrier further which I followed their
    principles .But what read now a days is that not that good. .Any way hats off to the brave Armed Forces ..Keep on writing such incidents and let the young officers correct it.
    RMU

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  • April 29, 2019 at 09:12
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    Spot on Sanjeev. My take. There are many Geeps in the Services still. Met him a few days bsck. They are looked up to even now. The other side of the coin you have so nicely brought out get publicity especially in the present internet milieu. Have seen my share of well turned out and nothing more SOs.No need to despair.

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  • April 29, 2019 at 18:53
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    Sir,

    I am the son of a retired Naval Officer. I graduated from INA as a PC officer after joining via 10+2, UPSC/NDA (just as you did). What I saw in service was a Far Cry from what was described to me by my parents. I was deeply saddened by what I found myself in and called it quits in 2017. I am perhaps viewed as the loser in my family but the double act was too much for my conscience to bear (playing the angel for the public but the devil within the service). I have emailed you my views, I hope you find them worth reading.

    Kind Regards

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  • April 30, 2019 at 06:39
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    To over 22000 people (& counting, as on 29 Apr, 2019) who read and shared their views on my recent blog, my sincere thanks.

    Here’s a quick summary & my take on some contentious issues:

    1. 99% of responders agreed a problem exists.

    2. Readers responded with emails, calls and messages that recounted personal experiences with a request ‘not to share’. I respect their right to grieve privately.

    3. 95% of ‘written’ responses were from officers below rank of Brigadier/Commodore/Air Commodore. I waited for the big ones; few came forth. Please remember – some of them must be out at sea/out of Jio coverage/engaged in active ops / have better things to do.

    4. Vast majority of active responses came from retired/veterans. Most of those serving maintained a stoic silence (understandable). I respect their limitations.

    5. Many energetic young men & women expressed anguish at the state of affairs while drawing inspiration from the ‘Geeps’ example. They want more ‘Geeps’, less ‘fruit & nuts’.

    6. A small minority advised me not to wash linen in public. My advice: you may provide more washing machines at NOM, Kotah House & such other hideouts, but there’s no washing machine for moral turpitude.

    7. Surprising as it may seem, EVERY single detail of our daily conduct is transparent & constantly under scrutiny these days. So, for those who asked ‘where’s the data?’, beware, it may already reside in phones, memory cards & FB accounts.

    8. Few just read just the title / tag line & vented out their angst. Some in that minority even suggested that Kaypius must be in some ‘camp’ because he is thrashing ‘so & so’. My advice: please read more & judge less. This is exactly how brothers turn against brothers. I spend sleepless nights with my conscience before I publish each piece. So should you, after reading.

    9. There is a definite tendency to glamourize & propagate ‘good news’ without supporting data, while insisting on data for events that run contrary to the ‘null hypothesis’. This is contrary to established principles of hypothesis testing & must be rejected at all levels.

    10. Lastly, if you still have patience, please watch this video of one of India’s iconic naval chiefs – Adm Ronnie Pereira.

    Once you have watched the entire video, write back to me & let me know if I went wrong in my assessment or apprehension.

    https://youtu.be/XB2ppN4tv60

    C’mon, take the effort to copy-paste the above link into your browser… it’s worth it!

    What trivializes the sacrifice of Lt Cdr DS Chauhan more? My 2008 picture grating coconuts for a family who walked with me through thick n thin? Or those who dragged the navy to court in 2019 through family members who enjoyed safe sanctuary in Lutyens Delhi since 2008. You tell me.

    What ethos are we talking about?

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  • April 30, 2019 at 21:34
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    I think he is. Commodore G P Parameswaran. CO, INS Cananore, then, CO GANGA Or Gomati or Godavari. His name figured in Command list as next CO, Viraat. But was never to be, bcaz, the fleet commander then was of a totally different breed. U know what I mean. Very sad.

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  • May 1, 2019 at 20:27
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    No system is perfect. I feel such short coming is there at all stages of leadership.

    Loved your narrative.

    Best wishes

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  • May 4, 2019 at 14:38
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    The rot of double standards my stomach comes first has been the motto of majority of of two and three stars .In eighties it was heartening to see sons of senior officers joining navy .Academically bright good at everything those youngsters had every thing in them having imbibed good values service ethos having been brought up in service families. Within five to seven years the crap they saw and left navy for greener pastures abroad. Iam happy that they refused to accept the shit they saw in service and chartered newer courses and qualifications abroad .

    Reply

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