Noel Ellis's Official Blog

I wield the pen to explore the vastness of the human mind

Category: CAS EVAC

THE BEST CAREER

As I sit back and look at the journey of my life, had I continued in the Indian Army, I would have retired at the end of this month. In the civil where I work with now, I may go on for another 6 years if all goes well. Well, I am not sure will I be able to last that long because of my nature which does not go very well in civil, which is to take a stand for my subordinates or for something which my conscious does not allow. Well, this attitude has cost me my job many times. I still continue to bash on regardless without bothering about the outcome.

This brings me to a question. Which is the right profession then? What can be termed as a satisfying career? In which job can you keep working till the day you like, keep earning and enjoy the best of life? Is it the forces? The answer is an absolute no. Is it the corporate? My answer is an absolute no again. I find two professions which might fit in the bill. One is to become a politician and the other is to become a holy man.

Be that as it may, the thought that triggered me to write this piece was the way armed forces are being used in the country today. It has been proved that the forces will come to the rescue of this nation for anything and everything including building a foot over bridge or cleaning the mountains besides all that we keep doing routinely in Aid to Civil Authorities. Why do we do it so professionally? It is because this comes from the ethos the men and women in uniform imbibe in them.

The simple formula we follow is Z-KIT-BM. The landmarks (Zamini Nishan) are given to get familiar with the terrain and area of responsibility, the information of both, own side and the enemy is given in great detail (Khabar dushman ki aur Khabar apni), the aim (Irada) of the operation is made crystal clear. It is short, crisp and precise. The modus operandi (Tarika) is then told so that no doubts are left lingering, including various contingencies. Thereafter, we discuss the administration (bandobast) and finally are the communications (Milap) between all parties participating in the operation.

Last but not the least we also synchronise our watches (Ghari Milao). This is the most important ritual, as we do things time bound. We then get to work even without orders. In case our leader becomes a causality or is not available, the next senior assumes his position automatically. We work, we rest and we get back to work again amidst all chaos till we achieve our aim as given out in the Irada. We fight till the last man last round, if rounds finish we get our bayonets on, if bayonets break, we don’t give up even then, we use are bare hands to achieve the aim even if we perish in the process. That’s our culture.

All this I do not see happening in the civil. First, I find the main aim is “paisa banao” (make money). Second, is to paisa bachao (save money), by not paying well and cutting down on salaries, amenities and manpower. To achieve greater heights the formula becomes lick, lick and lick. Butter every side of the toast. The formula used is, “KAAM NA KARO, KAAM KI FIQR KARO AUR FIQR KA ZIQR APNE BOSS KO ZAROOR KARO” (Don’t work, just worry about work and keep telling your boss that how worried you are) is the key to success. Secondly, for any fault, blame all and sundry rather than own up responsibility. Make someone the scapegoat. Let truth never prevail. If caught, run away or go to court.

Sit long hours in office twiddling your thumbs. In fact your boss does the same but apparently it should appear that you are the most sincere employee. Bring a pin and describe the process as if you bought an aeroplane. Discuss it repetitively in all meetings the efforts you put in to research about it, the hurdles you faced in the selection process, the difficulty with which you could convince people to pass your budget, not to forget how many mails you sent and the paper work you did. How you almost visited the vendor, got the pin loaded and followed it through every octroi post. Blame the delay on the non cooperation by some who did not give a crane to unload this pin especially if you hold a personal grudge against him. At the end expect a complimentary mail for you to keep in record to show it during your appraisal. Life actually sucks.

The profession of babas and baby’s I don’t have to discuss. Politics I don’t know and about politicians I won’t utter a word. One thing I may like to tell the people who run this country is that, Sirs, if you don’t make the profession of the Armed Forces the best career option in this country, if you don’t give the serving and the veterans their dues and Izzat, then your profession will be jeopardy someday. Politics as a career is alright but will you be able think beyond the petty politics and pay heed to the writings on the wall called “Khabar Apni”? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

RAIL BACHAO

Train accidents are again on the increase. Innocent lives who have entrusted everything of theirs to the railways find themselves on a journey of a different kind. People land up at the heaven’s gate in that fraction of a second when someone somewhere has not done his duty properly. Worst are those people who are left behind maimed and injured. Many perish for no fault of theirs.

Yes, the Indian Railways is totally responsible for such loss. Compensating for lives by a few lakhs is cosmetics as this person can never be replaced. People who are left behind do not know what to do now. Common train travellers are middleclass people like me or from rural background. Government can really do nothing much except to give treatment to the survivors, arrange another train for the stranded and hand over the bodies to relatives. Many have no claimants for the compensation so all of it goes back to the government kitty. Everything gets forgotten, media finds a new story. A few people are sacked or transferred and political statements are vociferously made. Resignations are demanded and by then rail traffic gets restored so life goes on as usual.

Train accidents invariably occur at inaccessible places, on the sides of fields and farms. Are civil and railway hospitals along the main train routes geared up to receive causalities?  I suggest use of helicopter ambulances. They should be mobilised to extricate casualties straight from the site to the best of hospitals. Can we have on each train a space for keeping material to make an improvised helipad even if that compartment gets destroyed? Can the railway staff be trained to create one helipad under any circumstances? I can assure you if our helicopter pilots can land on a five feet strip in the glacier in inclement weather as also our Coast Guard pilots rescue people in storms and rough seas then why can’t there be an NDRF air component to transport everything required even if it has to be under slung. The concept of Quick Reaction Teams for such activities can be done state wise for immediate cas-evac. If we can have anti sabotage and anti terrorist squads in every state, then there also should be airborne med-assist teams for the railways in general and state in particular.

Railways definitely need to pull up their socks. Accidents happen as animals come on the tracks, to people moving between tracks, crossing unmanned level crossings, to people crossing manned level crossings. However alert the driver and his assistant may be, for them to notice a crack in the railway track and stop the train at a safe distance is asking for too much. I have also not understood that why is the railway engine cabin located in a place where the driver has to peep out and look for objects. In case of bad weather he cannot even shut his window and has to look through the one in front of his seat. The length of the engine blocks the complete view of the other side. His seat is so uncomfortable that sitting on it for eight hours must be a task in itself. The assistant loco pilot hangs outside on the other side, trying to figure out if the signal is green or red or is there a caution. He maintains the logs and risks moving out on the engine to check while moving full speed. I find no safety gear for him.

I have seen them shouting to each other various commands and cautions as the situation arises. It is to confirm that what the driver has seen or observed is correct and cross checked. I can assure you one goes deaf in the engine roar. I have firsthand experience sitting in diesel engines while moving military specials. It took our railways ages for the driver and the guards to have walkie-talkies. Why can’t they have long range communication with their HQs and stations enroute? The driver or the assistant has to take the token half hanging with his arm curved at an angle. The person handing over the token has a burning “Mashal” to indicate his location at night. A dropped token means the train doesn’t have clearance to move and a penalty is imposed on the driver. Hope things have modernised and improved now.

The driver doesn’t have a toilet. Even if he stops at a railway station his position is such that he cannot run to the nearest one. I do not know if the drivers and train crew go through an alcohol test before mounting onto their workplaces as done for air crews. Railways are famous for working after getting “tally”. This I have seen myself as my uncle was a loco foreman in the NE Railway at Kathgodam and I had the privilege to travel on the footplate of steam engines many-many moons back. This poor man doesn’t even have a water cooler leave alone an air conditioned cabin. I have seen many of them carrying their own water bottles for the day’s journey. Yes stations were fixed where ice used to come on the engine after dark, as time to open the throttle and the bottle used to coincide.

Well friends our rail network is too vast. Threats are too many. One fish plate, one locking nut, one blink of an eye can lead to a tragedy. They still remain the prime movers of the citizens and freight of this country but they need to be more professional as far as rail safety and security is concerned. They also are the easiest thing to target maybe it a Rail-Roko or sabotage. Every life is precious; every life counts. I too want to ride a bullet train in this life. “Hey Prabhu”, will I be able to? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

 

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