Friday, August 22, 2014

Humor in Uniform – NAVY “GYAN” – HOW TO PARTY

HUMOUR IN UNIFORM

Let me share some “GYAN” I learnt and applied in the Navy on HOW TO PARTY

NAVY “GYAN” –  HOW TO PARTY
A Spoof
By
VIKRAM KARVE

(This happened long back when we worked for 6 days in a week in all government offices)

HOW TO PARTY

“You think you are too damn smart – but I have found out something about you,” the PMC said.

“What is it, Sir?” I asked, curious, wondering which ‘secret’ of mine the PMC had discovered.

“You avoid having parties on Saturdays,” he said.

“Is it so?” I said, smiling like a Cheshire Cat.

“Ever since you have taken over as Mess Secretary you always schedule parties on working days – on weekday evenings. Every time we want to have a party on Saturday evenings, you get the party re-scheduled on a weekday on some pretext or the other. Now you have crossed all limits – you even want a Saturday afternoon Pre-Lunch Drinks (PLD) preponed to Wednesday afternoon,” he said.

“There is no such word as ‘preponed’, Sir,” I said.

“Shut up. Don’t try to change the topic...” he said.

“Sir, but Wednesday is also a make-and-mend (half-day) routine – and the officer whose farewell party it is – he wanted it on Wednesday – he said it was more convenient…”

“Don’t bullshit me – the officer said that it was you who told him that Wednesday would be convenient…” the PMC said.

Now that the cat was out of the bag, I decided to make a clean breast of it.

“Sir, you are right – I don’t like to have parties on Saturdays,” I said.

“Any particular reason – something religious – do you fast on Saturdays?” he asked.

“No, no, Sir – it is something totally different – nothing religious or spiritual about it, Sir – maybe philosophical – but you won’t believe me if I tell you,” I said.

“I want to know – you have to tell me,” the PMC insisted.

“I work to enjoy my leisure,” I said.

“You work to enjoy your leisure?” he repeated my words, looking puzzled.

“We all do, don’t we? Don’t we all work so that we can enjoy our leisure? We slog 6 days a week, so that we can enjoy that one Sunday we get off. And in the navy, we have to do duties on some Sundays too, so even some of the few Sunday routines we get are ruined anyway,” I said.

“But what the hell has all this got to do with not having parties on weekends?” he asked.

“I don’t like to have a hangover on a Sunday morning – I prefer to have my hangover on a working day, in working hours,” I said.

“What?” he asked, looking puzzled.

“I drink because I am in the Navy – it is the Navy that taught me how to drink, it is the Navy that motivates me to drink by giving me the choicest top quality duty free and subsidized liquor – and don’t we have an official party culture that encourages drinking?” I said.

“How can you say that?” he asked.

“Sir, I never touched a drop of booze in college. And most probably, I would never have started drinking alcohol had I not joined the navy. So, since I drink alcohol because I am in the Navy, the effects of drinking alcohol like a hangover must be suffered in working hours. Sir, most navy parties are official parties, so the effects of these official parties must be officially endured in official working hours…” I explained.

“You are talking all nonsense…” the PMC said.

“Sir, please try to see it logically – the Navy is responsible for my drinking, so the Navy must bear my hangover. Why should I ruin my valuable leisure hours suffering a hangover on the one beautiful Sunday morning I get for myself – in fact, I like to get up early on Sundays so I can enjoy my well deserved holiday to the fullest…” I said.

From the incredulous look on his face, it appeared that the PMC was not convinced by my logical reasoning.

And to prove that he was the boss, when the next occasion for an official farewell party arose, the PMC decided that the party was to be held on a Saturday evening.

This was vetoed by the PMC’s wife, who unequivocally told her husband, “Why an official party on Saturday evening? Why don’t you have the farewell party on a weekday evening like you normally do? I am not going to ruin my weekend attending your boring party which goes on and on. On Saturday evening, you take me out for shopping and a movie.”

What the PMC did not know was that a few days ago I had a discussion on the same subject with his wife, and she seemed to heartily agree with my views.

EPILOGUE

I tried my best to follow my NO PARTYING ON WEEKENDS dictum throughout my naval career, so that I could fully enjoy my well-earned Sundays (later Saturday/Sundays) as I pleased.

Sometimes, this did irk some seniors who found me missing from weekend evening cocktails or afternoon Pre-Lunch Drinks.

In one organisation, despite my best efforts to convince them to have parties on weekdays, they insisted on having all parties on weekends.

I avoided most of these weekend parties.

Once when one of my bosses asked me why I was missing, I gave him one of my classic retorts: “Sir, I do not attend parties because I am an alcoholic.

What happened after that?

Well, that is another story which I will tell you some other time.

Meanwhile, remember the “Moral of the Story”:

The worst way to spend a beautiful Sunday morning is sleeping in bed having a splitting headache suffering from a hangover due the excesses of late night weekend partying.

Why ruin your valuable leisure hours?

If you must party, why not do it on weekdays and “enjoy” the hangover in working hours?

You agree with me, don’t you?

Party on Weekdays and Enjoy your Weekend.

VIKRAM KARVE
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.

Disclaimer:
1. This story is a spoof, 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)

THE NAVY – A Definition

Humour in Uniform
THE NAVY  ―  A Master Plan designed by Geniuses for execution by Idiots

Here is a quote from the classic Navy Novel “The Caine Mutiny” that describes the Navy:
 
“The Navy is a master plan designed by geniuses for execution by idiots. If you are not an idiot, but find yourself in the Navy, you can only operate well by pretending to be one. All the shortcuts and economies and common-sense changes that your native intelligence suggests to you are mistakes. Learn to quash them. Constantly ask yourself, ‘How would I do this if I were a fool?’ Throttle down your mind to a crawl. Then you will never go wrong.”


~ Herman Wouk, The Caine Mutiny

Thursday, August 21, 2014

MILITARY PROMOTION SYSTEMS

MILITARY PROMOTION SYSTEMS
Musings of a Retired Veteran
By
VIKRAM KARVE

In his autobiography “Courage and Conviction” General VK Singh mentions how he almost missed his promotion to Major General due to just one low ACR (in the rank of Lieutenant Colonel) due to a personality clash.

Egged on by some of his well-wishing superiors and on their prodding and advice, he made a formal complaint and was cleared for promotion as a review case. 

In his autobiography “An Odyssey in War and Peace Lieutenant General JFR Jacob narrates many instances where he fell foul of his bosses and was almost written off” and twice almost came close to resigning from the army.

This prompts me to re-post, once more, some musings I had written a few months back on the Promotion System in the Navy (I feel this applies to the Army and Air Force as well).

THE MYTH OF MERIT and PROMOTION BY PREFERENCE

Let me begin with a quote by Admiral Burke on the importance of a good promotion system in the Navy:

 Officers must have confidence in the promotion system or discipline will be jeopardized. 

Unless the best officers are promoted, faith of other officers and enlisted men in the integrity of the system will be shaken. 

It is essential that officers be promoted who will be best qualified to lead in battle.

They must have other qualifications, such as good administrative and technical ability and a wide array of knowledge also, but the rest of the Navy must have absolute confidence in those selected. 

Should the less qualified personnel be selected, there will come a time in battle in which the Navy will fail because of its leadership. 

Like begets like (e.g., ducks pick ducks), and inadequate personnel, once they have moved up sufficiently to be on a selection board, will themselves be apt to select other inadequate personnel. 

Admiral Arleigh A. Burke
Chief of Naval Operations

DO MILITARY PROMOTION SYSTEMS PROMOTE CRONY LEADERSHIP ?

THE TWO TYPES OF LEADERS

If you look around you, you will observe that there are two types of “Leaders”:

1. GENUINE LEADERS

and

2. YES-MEN (who Masquerade as Leaders)


There are tomes written on the subject of genuine leadership.

So let me say a few words on the second type of leadership where yes-men masquerade as leaders.

Let us call this Crony Leadership.

Many Human Resource (HR) Management Systems are designed to breed yes-men.

These Promotion Systems ensure that yes-men are catapulted to the highest rungs of the hierarchy.

Promotion Systems may be classified into two broad categories:

1. Promotion by Seniority

2. Promotion by Merit


PROMOTION BY SENIORITY

Promotion by Seniority is the most transparent promotion system.

Seniority is like Maternity.

There is no scope for ambiguity here. When a child is born there is no doubt as to who the mother is, since the baby is delivered directly from the mother’s womb.

Likewise there is no scope for ambiguity about your seniority.

Rules and Regulations on how to determine seniority are clearly specified in every organization.

In most cases it is the date you join an organization or the date you are promoted to higher rank.

Many organizations publish clear cut seniority lists from time to time so that every employee knows where he (or she) stands and if anyone has any doubts they can get things clarified and rectified, if necessary.

Promotion by seniority is the most fair, transparent and stress-free system as far as employees are concerned.

You patiently wait in the queue knowing that your time will come.

Promotion may be by “time-scale” and you will be promoted after completing the requisite number of years of service.

Or promotion may be vacancy based and you patiently wait your turn hoping that a vacancy will arise in due course or at least before you retire.

Even if a vacancy does not arise for a long time and you have to “stagnate” in the same rank or post, there is always one big consolation that your junior can never “jump the queue” and “leap frog” over you.

You will always serve under your seniors.

You will never have to suffer the humiliation of having to serve under someone who was once your junior (as can happen in organizations where promotion is by “merit”)

Organizations where promotion is purely by seniority will have harmony in the workplace because of the high degree of contentment in among employees.

In the Navy, and also the Army and Air Force, this concept of promotion by seniority is followed for the first 20 years of your service as an officer.

Earlier time scale promotion based on years of service was followed till about 15 years of service when your first selection board for the rank of Commander (Lt Col / Wg Cdr) used to take place.

But since 2006 (after the AVS Cadre Review) promotion to Commander is also by time scale after 13 years of service and you will have your first selection board for the rank of Captain (Colonel / Group Captain) in about 20 years of service.

For civilian government employees, their career prospects are even better as they are assured of time scale promotion based on seniority to the highest ranks under the Assured Career Progression (ACP) scheme which has been denied to the Defence Services.

Frankly, this extension of time scale seniority based promotion is a good thing as the naval officer of today can get on with his job in a sincere and dispassionate manner without having to worry too much about pleasing his boss, at least till the rank of Commander, because it is only after that does promotion by merit come into play.


PROMOTION BY MERIT

What is merit?

Merit is like Paternity.

In the case of paternity, there is scope for ambiguity. 

There can always be a doubt as to who the real father of the baby is. 

Sometimes, if she has been promiscuous, even the mother may not be sure who is really the father of her baby!

“Merit” is a highly subjective term, especially in the context of performance appraisal.

How is merit evaluated?

You may say that there are objective ways of determining merit.

For example, you can have an independent written examination and draw up an order of merit based on performance in the examination and promote from the top of the list appropriately (on the lines of the process for admission to IITs and IIMs via the IIT JEE and CAT Management Entrance Examinations)

While this may work fine at the recruitment stage and for junior level employees, I don’t think any organization uses such objective methods of determining merit for promotions at the higher levels of the hierarchy. 

The way in which the navy promotion system operates, “merit” means “preference”.

And, consequently, promotion by merit means promotion by preference.

“Merit” is like “Beauty”.

It is said that:

“Beauty” lies in the eye of the Beholder.

Likewise:

“Merit” lies in the eyes of your Boss.

Who evaluates your merit for promotion?

It is your immediate superior, or the person higher up in the hierarchy who can influence your promotion.

In the Navy there is a system of Annual Confidential Reports (ACR) for “performance appraisal”.

At the end of every year your boss writes your Annual Confidential Report or ACR.

The key word here is “confidential”.

You do not know what your boss has written about you, specifically you never know how many numerical points he has awarded you.

This is a very subjective performance appraisal system.

Your entire performance for the past one year is evaluated in one go.

Your boss is free to appraise you as he wants as per his whims and fancies.

And you are kept in the dark, quite clueless, about how your performance has been appraised.

Earlier there was a system where the appraiser had to show the ACR to the appraisee and also give him a written extract of the “pen picture” part of appraisal report (called “flimsy”).  

This was a good system of feedback for the appraisee who knew where he stood in the eyes of the boss and in which areas he needed to improve his performance.

Also this system of discussing the ACR imparted a sense of healthy transparency to the performance appraisal process.   

Surprisingly this excellent system was discontinued and now everything is kept “confidential”.

In fact, the entire promotion process is done in such a “cloak and dagger” manner and this generates an atmosphere of suspense, anxiety and intrigue.

Promotion is a great cause of stress amongst senior naval officers, since in the navy your rank determines everything. 

I think the situation is quite similar in many organizations, where promotion by merit actually boils down to promotion by preference.

Your career prospects depend on the likes and dislikes of your boss.

So you must be “tactful” and ensure that you are always be on the right side of the boss, or better still, you must become the “blue-eyed boy” and “right hand man” of the boss.

Yes, if you want to succeed in your career, the key quality you must have is “Tact”.

“Tact” is a euphemism for “Moral Pliability”.

It is tact which will help you to be a “smooth operator” and facilitate you to effortlessly indulge in sycophancy and please your boss.

It is tact which will enable you to become an “yes man” and rise to great heights in your career.

Your bosses may change and it is the quality of “Tact” that will enable you to change your colours like a chameleon depending on the “requirements” of your bosses.

Your “morals” too must be flexible and your “ethics” must change to suit the “ethics” of your boss.

Yes, being an “ethical chameleon” is the sine qua non for becoming a “yes-man”.

Thus, we see that in many organizations, in the implementation of HR Management Systems, “merit” actually becomes “pseudo merit” and the promotion system, though ostensibly based on “promotion by merit” degenerates into “promotion by preference”.

This results in an atmosphere of favouritism which breeds cronyism and sycophancy and throws up yes-men to leadership positions.

And when yes-men become leaders, what we get is crony leadership.

As Admiral Burke said:

Like begets like (e.g., ducks pick ducks), and inadequate personnel, once they have moved up sufficiently to be on a selection board, will themselves be apt to select other inadequate personnel.

Thus, yes-men will pick yes-men, and these yes-men in turn will pick more like minded yes-men.

This will have a spiralling effect.

And this yesmanship driven promotion process will proliferate till the top brass is flooded with yes-men and we have an overwhelming crony leadership.

Is crony leadership good for the Military (Army Navy Air Force)? 

Well, that topic I will discuss subsequently in a forthcoming post on my blog.

VIKRAM KARVE
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.

Disclaimer:
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.

STRESS MANAGEMENT

STRESS MANAGEMENT
Musings of a Stressed Out Mind
By
VIKRAM KARVE

The title of this article may be a bit of a misnomer, but I have used it since it is a commonly used term.

An apt title would have been STRESS PREVENTION

I feel it is best to try and prevent stress rather than try to manage it.

How do you prevent stress?

I found the clue, long back, in a small booklet called “Thus Spake Vivekananda” which encapsulated the teachings of Swami Vivekananda in a nutshell.

I first learnt about Swami Vivekananda, sometime in the 1960’s, when I was a small boy and my father had taken us to visit Belur Math near Kolkata. 

At Belur Math I acquired a tiny pocket book called “Thus Spake Vivekananda”.

Whenever the chips were down, or I felt dejected, I referred to the inspiring gems of wisdom, distilled from the complete works of Swami Vivekananda, for instant motivation and strength.


AN INSPIRATIONAL GEM OF WISDOM FROM SWAMI VIVEKANANDA

Here is an inspirational gem of wisdom, a phrase from the sayings of Swami Vivekananda:
 
Anything that makes you weak physically, intellectually, and spiritually, reject as poison
 
I feel that the word “weak” is all encompassing.

The term “weak” embraces anything that creates in you a stressful situation.

Thus “weakness” includes all negative emotions and feelings like anger, irritation, fury, worry, anxiety, frustration, despondency, depression, demoralization etc, which, in a nutshell, cause unhappiness.

These negative emotions disturb your inner tranquility and equanimity, drain you emotionally and intellectually, and make you feel “weak” just like physical weakness.

Oh yes:

Unhappiness is Weakness

Unhappiness is Poison for the Soul


IDENTIFY YOUR UNHAPPINESS CREATORS

Now sit down in a quiet tranquil place, close your eyes, introspect, and try to think of all the things that make you feel negative,

Reflect and introspect on all your unhappiness-creators and unhappy situations.


UNHAPPINESS CREATORS

These unhappiness creators can be anything, tangible and intangible, things, activities and persons, and include:

1. Toxic individuals and incompatible persons, who irritate, annoy and hassle you
 
2. Foods and beverages (like Alcoholwhich don’t suit you and are physically detrimental to your health and well-being
 
3. Activities, social and personal, which may appear pleasurable, but which actually drain you out
 
4. Technology and Gadgets, like your cell-phone, which disturb your peace of mind

5. Strained Relationships, which are a source of unhappiness and cause stress in you

6. Any activity or thing that causes a guilty conscience within you

7. Disagreeable persons and unpleasant activities which are a stimulus for negative emotions like anger, worry, fear, etc and create negative vibes within you.

Close your eyes, introspect and think about all aspects of your life  your work life, your home life, your social life.

Think about all the persons, activities and things that generate negative vibes, create stress and unhappiness in you, things that make you feel “weak”. 

Then, follow Swami Vivekananda's advice: 

Anything that makes you weak physically, intellectually, and spiritually, reject as poison 

Yes, you can do it in actual life.

Just “reject” all these “poisonous” things and people by avoiding them as far as possible.

Make an exhaustive list of all your 
“unhappiness creators”  all the things and people that make you “weak” - and try to reject them as “poison”.  
 
At first you may be a bit skeptical about this approach.

But when you start implementing, you will be surprised how much of it is in your own control to prevent unhappiness.


SAY NO TO UNHAPPINESS CREATORS and WELCOME HAPPINESS CREATORS

While, on the one hand:

1. You reject the things that make you weak and unhappy

simultaneously, on the other hand:

2. You must reinforce the things that make you feel strong and happy

Say NO to unhappiness creators

Say YES to happiness creators  

Yes, if unhappiness is weakness”, happiness is strength.
 
So simultaneously, reflect and contemplate.

Make a list of things and persons that give you strength and joy and make you happy and productive.

Include all the things and people that create positive feelings in you.

Then try to devote as much time and energy to doing these positive things and interacting with these morale boosting people that give you strength and make you feel good and happy.  


MANTRA FOR HAPPINESS (and UNHAPPINESS) - IN A NUTSHELL
 
To put it in a nutshell, if you want to be happy:

1. Try your best to generate happiness vibes by doing things which make you “strong” and happy 

2. Try to reduce or even eliminate negative unhappiness vibes by rejecting” things which make you weak” and unhappy. 

(And if you want to be unhappy, just do the opposite  keep wallowing in negative vibes by encouraging your unhappiness creators and avoiding your happiness creators).


HOW TO CREATE HAPPINESS and HOW TO CREATE UNHAPPINESS

Whenever I feel unhappy, I realize that it is because I have allowed myself to be overwhelmed by my unhappiness creators.

And the moment I envelop myself with my happiness creators, I start feeling happy.

Remember this saying of Swami Vivekananda:

Anything that makes you weak physically, intellectually, and spiritually, reject as poison 

(Conversely, I say: Anything that makes you feel strong, imbibe as nectar)

Implementing this inspiring gem of wisdom from Swami Vivekananda is breathtaking in its simplicity. 

Try it – experiment – discover your happiness creators and unhappiness creators.

Start making your two lists and then you know what to do.

This works for me and I am sure it will work for you. 

I do feel stressed out and unhappy at times, but I know why  and I know what to do – so I try my best to make my unhappiness creators disappear and overwhelm myself with happiness creators.

Wish you a stress-free life filled with happiness.

VIKRAM KARVE
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.

Disclaimer:
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.

Revised version of my article written more than 20 years ago and