Captain (I.N.) (Captain (Indian Navy)
There is, of course, no such rank. However, just like all morals, ethics and virtues are acceptable societal attributes if the majority thinks so, in the armed forces too, the majority service in manpower, Army that is, decides on what is an acceptable rank of the other service (in this case Navy) when they too have a rank spelled and pronounced exactly the same way (the Navy Captain is equivalent to a full Colonel in the Army).
The situation is compounded further when you realise that in the Navy, Captain is a rank as well as an appointment. A CO of a ship or a submarine is referred to as Captain irrespective of his rank. If you are a Sub-Lieutenant to a Commodore, you are in command as a Captain.
But, Captain (I.N.) has some unwanted connotations. I was undergoing the Higher Command Course with the Army at (that time) the College of Combat (no pretences at this being the Army College of Combat; but being the ‘majority‘ service, it had ascribed to itself the prefix ‘the’ and touted its training institution as the College of Combat. It was here that my rank was changed/modified to Captain ‘Within brackets IN’.
In my dreams (Whenever I am in difficult and unfamiliar situations I dream and transport myself to elsewhere. This hobby of mine continued from my school days when during Algebra classes, I transported myself to Switzerland and such other exotic locales) I reached the Pearly Gates. One glance at Saint Peter and his Assistant convinced me that, as in everything in India, the Army had been asked to control ‘the situation’; namely, to check and monitor the heavy influx into the Kingdom of Heaven (KOH). Saint Peter’s Assistant (SPA) was an army man, mustachioed, booted and looking important. After the usual questions regarding name, date of birth, father’s name etc, he asked me: “Rank?”
“Captain” I said.
“Captain In” said SPA.
“Thank you” I said and started walking in.
“Thum” SPA growled, “I asked you if you are a Captain I.N. or a normal Captain.
I cringed at the distinction. Before arriving at the Army’s premier training institution, I had considered myself perfectly normal.
“I too am a perfectly normal Captain” I replied with great dignity.
He re-checked my age and decided otherwise.
“Ah”, it suddenly dawned on him, “You must be a Group Captain”.
“But Sir”, I remonstrated, “I am totally by myself”.
“Stop being funny” he said, “One of the reasons why you are here is because you always tend to be funny whether in class, mess or even during tours and wargames.”
I made a quick mental note not to ask any “funny” questions, even if given another chance to undergo the Army Higher Command Course (AHCC), in my next life.
At this Saint Peter himself intervened, “Let’s hear why you consider yourself qualified to enter the KOH.”
“Well Sir”, I began hopefully, “I was a Col GS/Adm of an important Division in the wargame Zorawar.”
“We know”, said SP and SPA together, “No action whatsoever took place in your Div Sector”.
“By the way”, said SPA with a view to deflate my new acquired Army-styled-ego, “Even if you had done anything better than trying to ‘figure-out’, you would still not be qualified. You know even the Corps and Div Commanders of that exercise haven’t qualified. Only Blue Air Force officers can be permitted into the KOH, on the strength of their ‘pro-active stance’ and ‘pre-emptive strikes’, even though these were outside the wargame rooms.”
“But Sir”, I insisted, “Surely you won’t have failed to notice that I was in the Control (Room) in the last wargame Yudh Abhyas. Won’t that be a ‘positive’ achievement?”
“No, not enough” said SPA with finality.
What a cruel world, I thought. When one is not in ‘Control’, it appears as if those who are there have directly descended from Heaven; but, now that I was there, SPA found it “not enough”.
I decided to speak-up against the prejudices, but in the interest of Jointmanship (incidentally, the Army wants the word itself to be changed to Jointmantank and the Air Force to Jointmanplane), I decided against it. Clutching at the last straw, I blurted excitedly, “I facilitated several AHCC course-mates and even DSs to purchase ship’s canteen items during our visit to Mumbai.”
There was an immediate response as if I had touched a raw nerve. SP turned to SPA and barked, “Tell the cheeky Navy fellow to go to HELL.”
Captain IN became Captain OUT.
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