Tuesday, February 11, 2014

HUMOR IN UNIFORM - DOES THE PECKING ORDER ALWAYS PREVAIL?

HUMOR IN UNIFORM

DOES THE PECKING ORDER ALWAYS PREVAIL?
An Apocryphal Story
By
VIKRAM KARVE

Disclaimer:
1. Please read this apocryphal story only if you have a sense of humor. This yarn 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.  This story is 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.

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)


DOES THE PECKING ORDER ALWAYS PREVAIL – An Apocryphal Story by Vikram Karve

Let me tell you an interesting story that happened a long time ago when I was on the faculty of IAT Pune, a premier inter-service institution for higher education.

A student officer, Lieutenant “A”, wrote a research paper based on his Master’s Dissertation.

It was decided to send this research paper to a prestigious professional journal for publication.

As was the custom in academia, the student officer (Lieutenant “A”) wrote his name first as the principal author and included the name of his dissertation guide (Lieutenant Commander “B”) at the second place as co-author.

The research paper authored by “A” and “B” was duly forwarded through “proper channel”.

The Head of Department (Commander “C”) read the research paper and was impressed by the high quality of work.

He was quite sure that this top-quality research paper would be accepted by the prestigious journal for publication and this would bring laurels to the department and institution.

The Head of Department Commander “C” called the student officer Lieutenant “A” and the faculty guide Lieutenant Commander “B” and said to them: “You have done outstanding research work and written an excellent paper. Well done. Why don’t you include my name as a co-author? After all I am the Head of Department and gave you all the help and encouragement you wanted, didn’t I?”

“Sir, we have included your name in the acknowledgements paragraph at the end of the paper,” the guide Lieutenant Commander “B” said.

“I would like my name to be mentioned as an author. After all, you are the guide but you too have included your name as an author haven’t you?” the Head of Department Commander “C” retorted to the guide Lieutenant Commander “B”.

So the research paper now had 3 authors:

1. “A” the actual researcher
2. “B” his guide
3. “C” the Head of Department.

As the paper progressed through the hierarchy, the Director of Studies (Navy) Commodore “D” decided to add his name too.

Commodore “D”, who was a careerist naval officer, knew that in the academia, a lot of importance was given to research publications.

He knew that in his present “academic” appointment publishing papers was considered as a “feather in his cap” and this would boost his ACR (performance appraisal report) and enhance his promotion prospects.

Also, such “academic achievements” would add value to his CV when he would look for job in his second innings after retirement.

So the Commodore “D” (who hardly did any research work) was in the habit of adding his name as co-author to all research papers going out of the institution.

So the paper now had four authors:

1. Lieutenant “A” the researcher
2. Lieutenant Commander “B” the guide
3. Commander “C” the Head of Department 
4. Commodore “D” the Director of Studies (Navy)

The research paper was sent to Headquarters for final clearance and forwarding to the prestigious journal.

After due process, one fine day, the paper landed on the desk of an administrative staff officer who was to forward it to the journal.

The administrative staff officer, a Salt Horse Commander from the Executive Branch was a most rank conscious officer.

Actually, he was just a “post office” and his job was to forward the research paper, that’s all.

But then, like all “post office” staff officers in Headquarters, he had an exaggerated sense of self importance.

The moment he saw the research paper, he sensed something was wrong.

“Why is the name of the junior-most officer on top?” he wondered.

Then he noticed that the names were written in reverse order of seniority – the name of “A” (Lieutenant) was on top followed by “B” (Lieutenant Commander) then “C” (Commander) and lastly “D” (Commodore) whose name was at the bottom of the list.

This “breach of protocol” irked him and was unacceptable to a “service minded” officer like him 

In the armed forces, and especially in the navy, rank and seniority were sacrosanct.

The “pecking order” had to be maintained at all costs.

The administrative officer decided to correct things.

He called his clerk and told him retype the names of the authors in order of seniority – the senior-most Commodore “D” on top followed by Commander “C”, Lieutenant Commander “B” and Lieutenant “A”.

Then, the research paper was duly forwarded to the journal.

The research journal had a policy of restricting the number of authors to a maximum of three authors.

Since only three authors were permitted, the editor of the journal duly “chopped off” the name of the fourth author Lieutenant “A”.

When the research paper was finally published, the name of Commodore “D” appeared on top as the principal author, followed by the names of the Head of Department Commander “C” and the guide Lieutenant Commander “B” as co-authors.

The name of the actual researcher Lieutenant “A” did not figure anywhere.

Yes, the name of Lieutenant “A” was nowhere to be seen in the journal.

Looking at the paper as it appeared in the journal, it seemed that the main research work had been done by Commodore “D” who was listed on top as the principal author of the research paper.

As per convention, it seemed that the other two authors, Commander “C” and Lieutenant Commander “B” had assisted Commodore “D” in carrying out the research work.

So, Commodore “D” got the maximum credit as the principal author although he did not have even have the slightest clue about the actual research work.

What a travesty?

Lieutenant “A” who slogged for over one year and did all the research work and wrote the excellent paper did not get any credit for his efforts.

The laurels were usurped by his seniors Commodore “D”, Commander “C” and Lieutenant Commander “B”.

I have seen this happen in various other situations in the navy too, where credit for work done by a junior is hijacked by his seniors.

Rank Has Its Priviliges (RHIP).

But does RHIP permit you to hijack credit due to your juniors? 

That is why I say that there are two types of officers:

1. Sincere Officers who genuinely do the work

2. Charlatans who dishonestly usurp the credit

And it is due to the unsung efforts of the first type of sincere officer that things are running fine in the defence services.

VIKRAM KARVE
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.

Disclaimer:
All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
NB:
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.
 


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