JAL VAYU DEFENCE ENCLAVE KHARGHAR – HOW CAN IT BECOME THE BEST COLONY?

Jal Vayu (Navy, Air Force) colonies, through AFNHB (Air Force Navy Housing Board with head-office in New Delhi) are meant to provide affordable housing to officers and other ranks of IAF and Navy). Here is from the Home page of AFNHB site: “AFNHB generally constructs two categories of dwelling units, one for the officers category and the other for airmen / sailors category of Air Force and Navy. The funding […]

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NOISE IS THE NEWEST FORM OF DEVOTION

Life in the armed forces, as anyone would tell you, is tough. Armed forces are not a vocation but a way of life; and hence, one is on duty 24/7 throughout the year. You hardly have any family life. With the perpetual shortage of officers in the armed forces, you actually end up doing the work of your absent friends, in addition to your own. Hence, when you retire after […]

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INDIANS – POOR IN RECORD-KEEPING; ARMED FORCES NO EXCEPTION

As Director,  College of Naval Warfare in Mumbai, in the year 2008; I took the Naval Higher Command Course student officers with me to a tour of South Africa and Mauritius. In Mauritius we visited the Folk Museum of Indian Immigration.  We were surprised to see the records of all indentured labourers who came to British Mauritius from Bihar between 1834 and 1921 (the museum houses 2000 volumes of these). […]

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TALKING OLD ‘FAUJIS’

Today I attended my sixth Annual General Meeting and lunch of the Navy Foundation, Mumbai Chapter. Once again, I was reminded of this old song by Elton John titled ‘Talking Old Soldiers’. When you read the lyrics and at the end of it listen to Elton John sing the song, you would realise why I get reminded of this: Why hello, say can I buy you another glass of beer Well thanks […]

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THE TAIL WAGS THE DOG AND HOW! – PART II

In the first episode of ‘The Tail Wags The Dog And How!’ I had told you about the business end of the Navy being at sea; but, controlled by the ‘heads’ in headquarters who have specialised in dishing out detailed instructions on every conceivable subject. It is as if their efficiency is directly proportional to the number of reams of paper that they dish out. All of us have been […]

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THE TAIL WAGS THE DOG AND HOW!

The business end of the Navy is at sea: the ships, submarines and aircraft; the Navy being the truly three-dimensional force amongst the armed forces of the union of India. However, the Navy has something common with the other forces in that it has another dimension ashore: the headquarters. The headquarters has – hold your breath – heads; what else? These heads roll out stuff that people at sea sometimes […]

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NAVY AND STAFF-CARS

The Navy owns ships, submarines and aircraft. But, to commute on land you require road transport. That’s where the Navy finds itself totally at sea. We envy our Army counterparts whose jeeps, jongas and Ambassador cars look ‘battle-worthy’ from outside and are fitted with the latest luxury items inside if the allotment is even for a unit Officer-in-Charge. The one Achilles Heel of the Navy personnel has always continued being road […]

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THREE THINGS I’D LIKE TO CHANGE IF I WERE TO JOIN THE ARMED FORCES AGAIN – PART I

The Three Things that I would like to change, if I were to join armed forces again are: 1. Bureaucratic Red-Tapism. 2. Cronyism. 3. Hyper Protocol Consciousness. In this Part I, I shall deal with BRT or Babugiri. On commissioning of a ship, we hoist, on the main mast, a pennant or pendant called the Commissioning Pennant or Pendant. When the ship is decommissioned, it hoists a Decommissioning Pennant whose […]

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ARMED FORCES AND THE INDIAN SOCIETY

Indian Armed Forces comprise the military services: Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard, supported by what is called as para-military forces: Assam Rifles and Special Frontier Force. As of 2010, the Indian Armed Forces have a combined strength of 1.32 million active personnel and 1.15 million reserve personnel. In addition there are 2.28 million paramilitary personnel making it one of the world’s largest military forces in the world in […]

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OUT OF THE BOX THINKING?

This is the dilemma the armed forces face. In a uniformed service we choose to promote the uniformity of training, response, actions; in short everything. It is a virtual cloning. DSSC tells you that even letters have to be written a particular way: “I have the honour to state that we are not getting anywhere” etc. Then, suddenly, at a particular rank and seniority, we hope that some would still have some […]

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MUSINGS IN A NAVY HOSPITAL

The word hospital, Wikipedia informs us, comes from the Latin hospes, signifying a stranger or foreigner, hence a guest. Another noun derived from this, hospitium came to signify hospitality, that is the relation between guest and shelterer. Hospes is thus the root for the English words host (where the p was dropped for convenience of pronunciation) hospitality, hospice, hostel and hotel. I was recently admitted in the Navy’s hospital Asvini in Mumbai because […]

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NURTURING INDIA’S MARITIME MILITARY RESURGENCE

The British, when they ruled India, were circumspect in giving Indians any significant role in maritime matters. It is because, Britain being a maritime power, ruled over many parts of the world through the effective use of its navy. It had realized the importance of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and considered the Indian Ocean as its own “private lake”. Not many of our countrymen care to remember that we […]

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CAMARADERIE OR CRONYISM?

A few years back, a retiring C-in-C of the Western Naval Command openly bemoaned, in his farewell speech, the scourge of “cronyism” that had started to plague the Indian Navy. One could do nothing right unless one was in the good books of some flag officer or the other; conversely, if one happened to be the favourite of a senior officer, one could never do anything wrong. It reminded me of […]

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DURING OUR DAYS

One month out of the Navy and already I am using this hackneyed expression. Read on; it may just be different from the old-hat.After wielding the stick at me for some time, one of my COs suddenly shifted to the carrot approach. “You are lucky”, he thundered, “I have made a list of my COs and believe you me, all of them were b——s of a very high order”. But […]

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LEADERSHIP IN THE NAVY – PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE

We Revere Our Heroes 1. ‘Band of Brothers’; is that what we expect our youth to become in tomorrow’s battlefield? Nelson used this phrase on a number of occasions to describe the remarkably close and friendly relationship that existed between him and the captains who served under his command at the Battle of the Nile on 1 August 1798. The phrase also connotes a personalised or ‘collegiate’ style of leadership […]

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