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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!!!!!!!!!!
© Noel Ellis
It is quite a challenge to handle civilian employees especially those who don’t understand logic. Why? I don’t know. Let me share with you an incident which most of us faujis will laugh off as a silly issue. However, if I see it as an issue for employees it becomes a big one. I don’t want to draw any conclusions from it but suffice to say may God grant them wisdom to understand that there is life beyond making an issue out of a tissue. Here goes!
Let me give a little background to the story. We have two busses one of which is a shift bus and the second one is for CSR activities. Schools are closed for Diwali so the CSR bus is kept as a standby to the shift bus. A Sunday before Diwali, as a tradition both the busses are sent to Bombay for Diwali purchases as a welfare measure for employees. Thus we have to ensure all shift people have to be picked and dropped in company transport for that day.
The company had a hired 7 seater which the contractor withdrew without notice three days back. In addition there is a company owned 7 seater (Xylo), whose electrical systems packed off in its last trip; it now can function in day only. We were about to send it for repairs as we have a small car (I-10) but unfortunately that met with an accident and had to be sent to the workshop. There is no provision of hiring any additional vehicle whatsoever, call it the terms of reference.
To add to the crises on Saturday night the plant developed an issue, so many of the technicians had to be held back. Once the criticality of the plant was resolved were they allowed to leave? Some of them had been in the plant for about 24 hours. Hats off to them!
Be that as it may, the real complications start now as instead of say 4-5 people who were supposed to be dropped the numbers swelled up to 14-15. They definitely cannot fit in a xylo. They all came and sat in the shift bus which was detailed to go to Mumbai and refused to budge. The time of release of all the vehicles was 6.15am. The employees decided that they have a birth right on the shift bus and shall not adjust for about 20 kms with other passengers and families who also had to travel on the common route.
The solutions offered to them were, firstly, we will do two trips of the Xylo which was not acceptable to them as they were not able to decide who should go in the first trip. No one wanted to hang around twiddling his thumbs. The second solution offered was that kindly be accommodative for these 20 kms and let the Mumbai marketing people also stand along. Priority to sit on the seats shall be given to the shift people. Third solution given to them was the Xylo will accompany the busses, carry seven shift people especially those who stay nearby. This was also not acceptable to them either. Third solution offered was that Mumbai marketing people sit in the xylo and these people will then board the bus after 20 kms having dropped the shift people.
Ultimately after 60 minutes of haggling, pleading, requesting, coaxing, cajoling repeatedly did they agree? One hour was wasted in futile discussions. Everyone got delayed. I even offered to drop people in my car if worse comes to worst but by then some good sense prevailed and after heated parleys people left for their destinations.
What did you gather out of all this folks? Had the shift people been a little accommodative, a little adjusting, a little more flexible, a little more sensitive, a little more open minded, nothing of this sort should have happened. Had logic been applied, a kind of crisis situation should never have arisen. Imagine a person who waits for this shopping trip suddenly finds his trip being cancelled or delayed. How can shift people be so unreasonable? Why do people have to be difficult? Why do people make things harder when they know that resources are limited?
Had the shift people created a win-win situation in the first place, everybody would have been home and in Mumbai in time. We are all working for the same organisation but without unity and brotherhood. We don’t have a helping nature. My Ego is supreme. Anything in which I am a little uncomfortable is not acceptable to me is the psyche. Problem solving and issue resolving is not in their blood as most of them become mere Tamashbeen’s (spectators) to have some more masala to gossip about. How to help the other person who is going out of his way to tide over a situation is expecting too much. It is my way or no other way. Do what you have to or let everyone be inconvenienced. My comfort comes first always and every time.
All is well that ends well friends. I did not want to get into telling them “when I was in the Army”. Thank God a body called the “workers union” did not get involved otherwise situation could have worsened. Over all a sad state of affairs as too much of welfare has spoilt them. Suffice to say one more day has passed, let me wait for the next challenge. Will these people ever understand? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!
© Noel Ellis