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I just happened to Google for a submarine called Scorpène and it showed 18, 00,000 pages about it. I didn’t know what to do. Will I be able to browse through so many pages in my lifetime? Today, in the twitter age, who has the time or interest to read those 22,000 pages? Fauji’s, No way! Yes had you given it to my father, he would have found minimum one spelling and one grammatical mistake on every page. After all he was an English teacher. Puns aside, Frenchmen writing documents in English would be equivalent to a Chinese writing Hindi. Well, seriousness of the matter apart, why are panic buttons suddenly switched on, if such a document has gone missing? I agree it’s a serious matter. With navy already tarnished with the naval war room leaks case, can such a thing happen? I have my fingers crossed.

How many such submarines were India going to acquire and how many are in the pipeline? Well it is a closely guarded secret from us Indians. Under what circumstances was India procuring these? Was it to replace the aging fleet? No, no, our fleet will last another 100 years. Was it to enhance our submarine capability? Do you guys think so? Was it to explore into the deep seas? Why should I tell you? Against whom shall we use these subs? Against Maldives or against Sri Lanka or the very friendly Pakistan or for that matter not very friendly China? Your guess is as good as mine. Will they be nuclear powered or diesel powered, or a mix of both? How much would be the endurance? Well, Wikipedia says nothing about them. What will be the missile platforms, or the torpedo capability on such platforms? Well, India does not have any such systems, isn’t it? How many countries have acquired such subs already? That is a closely guarded secret, not available on the internet I suppose. I must be joking.

Indian Navy, I am sure would have conducted thorough French classes for all the personnel being deployed on such subs. The crews must be chattering away in French, just to confuse the enemy. I can assure you, for a jat or a tambi, deciphering the buttons on his console would be like an expedition to Mount Everest. Well, I did my French interpreters course in NDA, but landed up in a unit with Russian equipment. I learnt broken Russian the Hindi way.

I remember how we were taught to memorize the panel board of a BMP. It was like “sab se phale dahine se pahla switch on karo”. Next, Hawa ki botal kholo. What the heck! That was the first time I heard something like that, had it been daru ki botal kholo would have been music to the ears. Bayen se teesra aur dayen se satwan button on karo. The bloody thing had 17 identical looking switches in one row. What were their functions did not matter, but procedure was procedure. In fact I had a fight with my ustad that why does he say switch on karo actually its switch off karo. For me it was like an electricity switch where I pushed it down to “on” and vice versa to “off” a bulb, but here it was ulta, off matlab on. Wah you Russians! Then it used to be dahine se doosra push button dabao. I used to keep pressing it and nothing used to happen till my ustad told me to lift the damn lid covering it and then press. One thing I enjoyed was the sounds which used to emanate on pressing these switches, something like a choooooooon, and a heavier sounding chooooooon on pressing the push button. Then we had to push the air button and the battery button together for a quick start. I used to think why these guys can’t just have key, like you start a jeep. I am sure by now our Indian submarine crew would have kept nick names for everything French and every button they would come across like we did to operate this vehicle. Those adjectives I shall keep for later. BMP itself was called “BIN MATLAB KA PANGA”.

Well, let Pakistan know each and every detail of the leaked pages and let them come up with something bigger & better as a counter. I am sure by now they would have got hold of the document and translated it into Urdu for better assimilation. French to English is understandable, but French to Urdu, well quite intriguing I must say, we are nowhere close to match the Chinese capabilities and numbers in subs, so why are we so perturbed that Arnab, Barkha and Rajdeep can run full day episodes on the same and make Gen Bakshi cry for every page they discuss and create breaking news, “Indian submarine sunk in the dry docks”. “The Scorpion has been stung”. “Periscopes down for all Indian Subs”, etc.

I just hope no damage has been done by these so called leaks. India is not in a position to modify a screw in them, even if it proved that there has been a leak. So far as the submarine tactics and number of submarines to be inducted are concerned, nothing much can change. Scrapping this deal is out of question, and I hope no one is made a scapegoat from the Navy just for the heck of it. Let us keep building our capabilities slowly and steadily. Let our naval strength speak for itself to our enemies. Till then, BICHOO-ONE is signing off. By the way ladies and gentlemen, Scorpène is a fish and not what you thought; even I didn’t know till I Googled it.

Au revoir mes amis, jusqu’à ce que nous nous revoyions. This is what Pakistan must be wondering, are these MCs and BCs in French. Keep wondering!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


© Noel Ellis