What Decision is good for your survival ? – Bhoop Singh’s LMG

As a Leadership and Management student and trainer over the last two decades , I have come across large volumes of books , research papers and stories on Decision Theory , Decision Process , Heuristics , Game Theory,Decision Trees and the like .But , no one can ever tell you with certainty what is good for you in a given circumstance except yourself ! .You may take inputs from multiple sources , get your decision reviewed up the hierarchy , but finally you are responsible to decide what is good for YOU .

The following story which periodically do the rounds in the Army Circles and many times used by me in my training sessions will illustrate this point. Before we go to the story , let us understand the concept of positional defense at a forward Army post facing the enemy in a mountainous terrain.  Our troops generally occupy a piece of high ground overlooking a possible enemy approach and try to dominate it both by observation and fire power. In the smallest field formation called a section consisting of a dozen soldiers , the main fire power is provided by the Light Machine Gun [LMG] which can fire a salvo of rounds in an automatic mode at the approaching enemy column. From an enemy stand point , the attack will be mounted to neutralize the LMG post at the first instance before the attacker fight with the others dug in . In defense , the positions and sighting of the LMG is reviewed up the chain from the Section Commander , Platoon commander, Company Commander and the Battalion Commander .  In the case of some key locations where guarding and defending a possible enemy approach is vital for the success of the defensive battle , at times the Brigade Commander may review the gun positions prepared by each section . Needless to say,this management review process holds good in civil life also whether in the government or with the industry .

Now , the story . In a section of Army Troops occupying a defensive post in a mountainous terrain , Naik Bhoop Singh was in charge of the LMG . Considering various enemy approaches and selecting a post which gives him the best field of fire with the widest sweep of the gun possible , Bhoop Singh dug up his position in a forward slope selected and assigned to his section by the Company Commander. Later on , his Platoon Commander reviewed the lay out and suggested a different position for the LMG and asked Bhoop Singh to move his gun there and dig again. Bhoop Singh did this and moved his gun there. Soon, the review by the Company Commander followed and as luck would have it , Bhoop Singh was asked to move his gun to another position which according to the Company Commander gave Bhoop Singh better field of fire to inflict maximum casualty on the attacking enemy ! . Bhoop Singh dug up his new position and moved his LMG .

On the following day, the Brigade Commander accompanied by the Battalion Commander visited the defenses to review the layout down to the section level. The Battalion Commander discussed some details reviewing the gun positions with the Brigade Commander considering various threat perceptions. Bhoop Singh’s LMG position also came under review . The Battalion Commander instructed the Company Commander to select a better location for Bhoop Singh’s LMG . Before leaving , The Brigade Commander casually asked Bhoop Singh to tell him where he would be comfortable to locate his LMG  to face the attacker effectively . Bhoop Singh smartly saluted him and told him that he would like to site  the gun where he dug up the position originally !. The Brigade Commander told him to go back there !. Moral of the story and the Decision Process – It is mostly your  ‘ GUT FEELING ‘ that holds good both in war and in business !

 

Inspection Blues !

An Inspection in any organization is a major task involving month long preparations , brushing up all the SOP’s [Standard Operating Procedure ] , and many rehearsals before the D Day .There is always an element of  ” window dressing ”  to hide any possible shortcomings in the system , especially in the upkeep of facilities and equipment .The main purpose of an Inspecting Officer is to judge  the state of  ‘ fitness ‘ of an organization to discharge its intended role. In the case of Armed Forces , it is  to test  the ‘ battle readiness ‘ of a field force when there is no war  around. Thus , peace time soldiering is all about training for war and periodic inspections including technical inspections .

The incident here happened at Bareilly  in UP during the late 60’s where I was posted as the Adjutant in the rank of Captain in an EME Battalion. Our operational role was in the UP – Tibet  border against any possible threat from the Chinese. It was my job to ensure that all administrative aspects about the inspection was taken care of which included a ‘ book inspection ‘ by the staff of the divisional Commander  and above all  pull all the strings to get a good impression of the General during his visit to the battalion which includes a working lunch at the Officers Mess .

I got into the act and ensured that everything is taken care of in its minutest details. I came to know from the ADC to the divisional commander  that the General was very fond of gardening  and always appreciated good potted  flowers . Our Officers Mess lacked a good garden and I had noticed some good flower pots painted in blue with a variety of seasonal flowers with the neighboring Signals Regiment . The adjutant there was a good friend and I borrowed about two dozen flower pots from him for our Inspection. After a successful tour of the Battalion in the morning , the divisional Commander along with his staff came over with our Commanding Officer [ C O ]  to the Officers Mess for lunch. While walking in , the General noticed the freshly painted flower pots with good flowers and appreciated the same .  Everything went off well and my CO was very happy .

It so happened , our battalion was the first to be inspected by the General and the Signals Regiment was the last after a gap of two weeks or so . During the visit of the divisional commander to the Signals Regiment , unfortunately , there were some glitches while they were tested for establishing communications with the higher HQ and the General was not very happy with the CO about this lapse which reflected poorly on the ‘ fitness ‘ aspect of the regiment. When , he moved into the CO’s office for a final chat ,  he saw the same flower pots he noticed in our officers mess , this time displayed in front of the office of the CO of the Signals Regiment . I heard  he sarcastically commented to the CO there ” Come on Colonel , I am sure you can at least  have your own flower pots in front of your office ! You don’t have to borrow them from the EME Battalion ! ” .  The adjutant of the Signals Regiment , I believe , got a strong reprimand from his CO for this fiasco and did not speak to me for some time! . Inspection Blues!

An Inspection in the land of the Kanchenjunga

 

I am glad to refer my readers to one of my blog published last year in guftagu @ amolak.in. Hope you like it. The scenic beauty of this Himalayan State  , friendly locals , inhospitable weather with treacherous terrain especially at higher altitudes , eye ball to eye ball contact with Chinese  troops at the passes like Nathu La , Jelep La , Cho La  etc are still fresh in my memory . I am very closely following the Doklam Stand off which is in the news these days.

One of our patrol party strayed  into Chinese territory across the international border in 1980 . They were apprehended by the Chinese troops and were taken to Yatung , the local military HQ at the Chinese side of Nathu La for questioning .  We got them back after a week through negotiations at the Field Commander level. One Medical Officer , Captain , who was part of the party later told me that they were looked after well and every evening they were shown the Hindi movie ‘Awara ” .

Please also see my blogs on ” An Indian Rope Trick ” and ” Field Punishment ” which narrate  my experience and encounters in Sikkim.

Re – Imagining Infosys – Come back of Nandan Nilekani

Nandan Nilekani is back with Infosys after a gap of 10 years , this time on a SOS call from the co-founders and the board  to release the bellwether IT Company from the recent controversies it got mired into , initially with the strong criticism on the board’s functioning by Narayana Murthy [NRN] , the co-founder of Infosys in 1981 with a shoe string budget , followed by the resignation of Vishal Sikka , the first CEO  from outside ,  selected by the board unanimously in 2014 to re-position the company to meet the market challenges posed by the competition and technology necessitating a new business model . Sikka delivered in 3 years and took the company to a better standing among its competitors but  his style of functioning and the tacit support he received from the board  [ now without any founders as its members ] was  not received kindly by NRN . The ” fight ” went out to the market and the Organization suffered in its standing in the public eye.  The stake holders including the clients in 45 countries with a market cap of more than $ 34 billion and the co-founders  who own 12.8 % of the shares could ill afford this situation and immediately did a rescue act by recalling Nandan to take charge  and steer the ship to safety , balance and future prosperity.

I have been closely following Infosys , at least from the late 90’s when they established their  facility at Hyderabad . I believe  , the then Andhra Pradesh Govt had to have several meetings with NRN to persuade him to open a branch at Hyderabad . I had an informal meeting with Chandrasekhar Kakal ,the first center head nominated for Hyderabad in my office with Metamor at the Cyber Towers when he came over to check with me on the availability of a temporary office for Infosys. He finally managed to get a few seats with the STPI [ Software Technology Parks of India ] facility in Cyber Towers on rent . Today , Infosys has two major world class facilities in Hyderabad employing more than 30,000 professionals and is a dominant player in the Telangana IT Eco System.  As the Executive Director of HYSEA [www.hysea.in ] I had close interaction with Infosys , Hyderabad and all the Center heads from Kakal , Narry , Ravi Kumar , and Manisha has been members of the Managing Committee of HYSEA [ www.hysea.in] I met Nandan Nilekani during 2005 over a break fast meeting with HYSEA’s Managing Committee and was greatly impressed by his professionalism and a ” no nonsense ” approach to anything in  business and life.

Nandan has been largely responsible in taking NRN ‘s legacy forward when he stepped into his shoes as CEO of Infosys . The culture , value system  , corporate governance , and impeccable credentials of Infosys is well known in the Industry. He later on became the public face of the Company and took it to greater heights and profits making it a truly global entity. It is therefore proper for all concerned to bring him back in this moment of crisis to do the balancing act and chart its future with a new board . I heard his press briefing today thanks to an on line coverage by Economic Times , and was very happy to listen to his deliberate and measured  words to the media at the same time stating his immediate priorities candidly. He started by saying he is back because there is no one else , partly joking but otherwise meaning every word of it !. He assured that he represented 100 % of all the stake holders and has a  ” clean slate ” to work on ,assisted by a newly constituted board and the second rung of leaders in the company. His tasks are to build consensus , bring in stability , find a new CEO from among the insiders/ outside / Infosys alumni who moved out in the past to other organizations with the help of a search committee under Kiran Majumdar Shaw , CEO of Biocon , and work with clients , institutional investors co-founders and all others in this endeavor  . He specifically mentioned the need to ” patch up ” with NRN , the industry icon whose concerns needed  to be addressed on priority.

Nandan Nilekani  joined Infosys first at the age of 26 in 1981 , was its CEO during 2002 -07 , continued as its Co- Chairman till he left to take up his job with the Govt of India , heading the UIDAI project , another path breaking  performance which earned him great accolades from all. He is back  with Infosys at the age of 62 to  stabilize the company using his consultative skills as its HCF or LCD as he jokingly stated to the media today. Having read all his books , starting from the seminal work  ” Imagining India ”  and observed him and his style of Leadership from a distance , I am very confident that this new task is really cut out for him and he along with his team will bring this very resilient global company to greater heights and glory very soon.  As he himself stated today , this is also one form of serving the nation , while answering a question from the media. Time to Re-Imagine Infosys , Nandan .

i Gen and Beyond – Profound Social Changes with Great Impact on Our Lives

Today, I was reading through a review of a recent book titled  ” i Gen ” authored by Jean.M .Twenge , in today’s Wall Street Journal [WSJ] . The author categorizes ” i Gen ” as people born between 1995 and 2012 , labeling this birth cohort [ generally known as Gen Z] as a group that doesn’t know a world without the internet and smartphones and is now 24% of the US population. The population of this group in India will be much more , I guess , with equally tech savvy especially on the smart phones  . India has more than 900 million mobile phones and counting with at least a third of it smart phones  . Recently , on the occasion of the 70th Anniversary of India’s Independence , Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Group announced a package with a free smart phone and unlimited free calls and data for as low as Rs 159 [ less than $ 3 ] per month in his Jio Network for the first 20,000,000 subscribers ! I believe the pre -booking is almost done !

On the behavior side, iGen , according to the author , is neither cynical as Gen X , nor as over confident as Gen Y , with a radical departure when it comes to their views on religion , free speech  and relationships . Technology  and social media is central to understanding this generation’s experience , with their social lives shifted decisively from in – person interaction to the virtual world .   . Worse , they are not happy with their ” on line ” life!. A major cause of worry, according to the author is the stunted development of adult skills which creates a generation that prefers the ’emotional safety ‘ of virtual relationships to the messy entanglements of real ones .

From a Social Science perspective , Veterans [ Silent Generation – Seniors ] to which I belong adhered to rules , are  conformists , had a hard time growing up , believes in family values and became prosperous by hard work . The Baby Boomers who came after World War 2 , believed in equal rights and opportunities , were optimists and team oriented . The developed and developing world flourished because of their commitment and dedication . Gen X [ 1960-80 ] grew up in diversity of culture , are independent , entrepreneurial , informal , pragmatic , techno literate and  think globally . The Millennials [ Gen Y ] of 1980-2000 are more confident , achievers , fun loving , sociable , street smart , tech savvy – a  global community .

Each such generation brought along certain distinct  behavior and social dimension , generally towards the progress of mankind.  Today , in my own nuclear family , I can say that both me and my wife have adapted to technology  , spending about 3 to 4 hours a day on our smart phone ,  i pad or laptop , buying things and paying bills on line and able to understand GPS . A far cry from the days of coal gas buses , 78 rpm discs , analog radios , box cameras ,  and  35 mm movies in a theater . My children are very tech savvy , achievers with a great goal orientation and cannot live without net connectivity. My grand children spend more than half of their waking hours with electronic devices , especially when they are on a vacation ! . One really has to pull them away from a device to which they are glued in – with Netflix , Facebook , Whats App etc.

Where do we go from here ? . Technology is already leap frogging as a leading indicator of future possibilities . Cloud platforms , I o T , Automation , Robotics , AI and Machine Learning are making manual work redundant in almost all areas of repetitive and predictive work . Do the new Generation following i Gen soon compete with Robots and the like? . Does the sci-fi Star Wars become a reality in our lifetime ?  Will human habitats transcend the earth and move to the galaxies up there ?  What will happen to physical relations ? How about human cloning ? .  It is both scary and appealing  paradoxically at the same time !  I think it is time we need another Alvin Toffler to write a book on  ” Future Shock Revisited ”  .

Welcome Friends Old and New – Linger Here a Day or Two – Cape May , NJ

Lighthouse

WELCOME FRIENDS OLD AND NEW  – LINGER HERE A DAY OR TWO  – An inviting sign board at the Perry Street in Cape May captures the essence of this  seaside tourist paradise located at the tip of Southern New Jersey’s Cape May Peninsula.

Cape May has a rich history of more than 400 years – Henry Hudson, an English Sea Captain in 1609 came upon this small peninsula while sailing in his small yacht  “Half Moon” between the Atlantic Ocean and the Delaware Bay. In 1620, a Dutch Captain MEY gave the place his name, later on changed to Cape May. This place continued to be a tourist destination, initially with the Native Americans and thereafter with the settlers over the years.  Good roads and rail roads soon connected this peninsula with many New Jersey and New York localities and today it is one of the most sought after summer Sea Side Tourist spots with clean beaches, trolley rides, ghost tours, home tours covering a rich history, the Sunset beach  with Victorian Style bungalows lining up on both sides of its approach, shopping and world class dining. A good number of hotels, home stays and condominiums cater for the visiting tourists. A population of merely 4000 caters for an average number of summer tourists numbering 40,000 plus every year.

WW2 lookout posts

We had a good look at Cape May on 13 Aug 2017 after a nice two hour drive from Montgomery through some of the scenic places en route. We began with an afternoon tea at the Carriage House Cafe and Tea Room located at the historic Emlen Physick Estate, followed by a two hour visit to the beach adjacent to the light house watching dolphins very near the coast.  The bird sanctuary near the beach, a second world war look out bunker were the added attractions at the beach.

At the beach.

We continued after sunset with a walk through Washington Street near the President’s Summer Retreat [ I understand US Presidents right from Abraham Lincoln holidayed here during summer] and a quick visit to the vibrant Perry Street where we saw many of the city population out there along with visiting tourists enjoying the Sunday evening. We concluded our short visit with a great Mexican dinner at De Mayo enjoying some of the best food cooked by a Mexican lady all by herself [ the place is open from 12 noon to 9 PM every day !] and managed by her daughter and two or three staff members.

Jerry Lewis – The God of Hollywood Comedy in the 50’s and 60’s

Jerry Lewis who made us laugh for two decades or more during the 50’s and 60’s is no more. It is with a lot of nostalgia that I remember his earlier movies in the 50’s pairing with actor – singer Dean Martin – My Friend Irma, At war  with the Army ,  Hollywood or Bust , The Three Ring Circus , to name a few which I have watched . They were a great pair and excelled in various pranks – mostly situational comedy graduating from the pure slap stick variety of Charlie Chaplin and others in the 40’s . While Martin played the cool guy with his charm , Jerry played the “goof up ” guy.

After falling out with Dean Martin , Jerry did some great comedy movies like The Bellboy , The Disorderly Orderly ,The Ladies Man ,The Nutty Professor and Boeing Boeing [ with Tony Curtis] . During this period , Jerry used sound and action to fashion a new form of physical comedy , the forerunner of movies  with Jim Carrey , Robin Williams Eddie Murphy and others. He also taught a film course at the University of Southern California and his students included Steven Spielberg and George Lucas .

For decades, Mr Lewis was the public face of the fight to cure muscular dystrophy , hosting an annual televised fundraiser for the MDA that , all told , raised nearly $ 2 billion. It was in 1976 , that in a public event Frank Sinatra surprised Jerry Lewis by ushering an unexpected guest onto the stage : Dean Martin!. The two who met after decades and embraced each other

Jerry Lewis was a totally committed comedian who depicted the ” fool ” with great abandon. Paramount Pictures signed him up for a $ 10 million contract in 1959 when he was 33 , allowing him to write , direct and produce his own films .  Jerry Lewis’s last screen appearance was in ” The King of Comedy ” a satire where he played the title role . The film was released in 2016.

Jerry Lewis has become a memory – and we will always  cherish the golden age of Hollywood Comedy  where Jerry played a major role.

Also see my blog “Out of the box thinking ” dated 31 October 2010 on this site.

Vishal Sikka’s message to Infoscions – A great lesson in Leadership for all

Dr Vishal Sikka resigned today from the post of MD & CEO Infosys attributing unrelenting , baseless/malicious and increasingly personal attacks on him . The board of Infosys supported his reason and also named the founder of Infosys  as the person Sikka was attributing in a statement to the shareholders , released to the Press. Not a happy ending to the stellar performance in all dimensions for a struggling bellwether IT Giant when Sikka took over command in 2014 . This blog is not to do a critique on the incident or its fall out but only to quote Mr Sikka from his farewell letter to ‘Infoscions ” which caught my attention from a Leadership perspective .

An extract from his letter –

Three years ago, I started this journey with a calling , to help reshape the company around innovation and entrepreneurship , to deliver breakthrough value for clients , and to help elevate our work  , our standing , ourselves , on the basis of a dual strategy , bringing together duality of renew and new , automation and innovation , people and software, to show a new path forward in a time of unprecedented disruption within the industry and beyond . That time , around and before June 2014 , was a difficult time . Our growth rates were low and attrition was high. There was a sense of apprehension all around and I came here to help enable a great transformation as our core business faced intense pricing pressure , and clients looked increasingly to innovative partners to help shape their digital futures. Now,a bit more than three years later , I am happy to see the company doing better in every dimension I can think of .————

And I am proud of how we have upheld our values , our culture , our integrity ,whilst we have gone about this massive transformation .

—————- I was ,and remain, passionate about the massive transformation opportunity for this company and industry , but we all need to allow the company to move beyond the noise and distractions .———–

Together we have achieved a lot . —- We have laid the foundation for the next 30 years of Infosys , and I feel deeply proud to have worked alongside all of you in sowing the seeds that will return this company to the bellwether it once was. As you’ve all often reminded ,Infosys is no bigger and no smaller than any of us ,the people,the Infoscions.  You are the ones that will take Infosys to the next 30 years and beyond. As I think about the time ahead, for all of us , I can only see us powered by a freedom from the known, of renewing ourselves to thrive in the time ahead. Each one of you has vindicated my deeply held belief that people are capable of doing more ,  achieving more, being more, than they ever imagined possible . So , keep pushing yourself to do better at whatever you are good at , but also learning to do things you have never done before ,indeed,nobody has ever done before —.

Advice and wise counsel to emulate for all leaders who would like to embrace change to grow their organization !

 

Padma Bhushan Dr F C Kohli – A Great Patriot

I consider it a great privilege in my corporate life to have met Padma Bhushan Dr F C Kohli, the founder CEO of Tata Consulting Services [ TCS] on 30 Nov 2016, when HYSEA [ Hyderabad Software Enterprises Association] felicitated Dr Kohli  for his Life Time Achievement in the service to the IT Industry in India , during its silver jubilee event at the International Convention Center, Hyderabad. As the Executive Director of HYSEA at that time, I was deeply touched by the passion and indomitable spirit and above all his great humility when I spoke to him on phone after sending him a formal invitation sometime in September 2016 through Mr V Rajanna, the Vice President and Regional Head of TCS at Hyderabad. Mr Kohli graciously accepted our invitation, spoke to me at length asking me about HYSEA and the event. Thereafter, he read out to me major points he would like to cover in his speech and sought my views on that. Coming from a person of his stature, this was a new experience for me.

When I joined the IT Industry with a MNC company back in 1997, Dr Kohli was already a great celebrity in the IT Industry of India. In fact, he is regarded as the ‘Father of the IT Industry in India’, having been the founder CEO of TCS way back in 1969. He was asked by the Chairman of TATA Group to take over the new entity when they decided to hive of an existing department to be a full fledged IT company. Under Dr Kohli’s leadership, TCS pioneered the IT revolution in India and the spectacular growth of TCS to what it is today is due to the visionary leadership and a ‘no nonsense” approach to his role by Dr Kohli.

Dr Kohli not only led TCS to glory but used Information Technology for the masses in India. His various adult literacy programs using computer and his advocacy to engineering students to undertake research and come out with socially relevant programs and innovations shows his great commitment to Nation Building. In his speech during the felicitation ceremony, he exhorted the IT Industry Champions to design software in all Indian languages so that the Internet can be truly an “Enabler ” for the country to harness the digital prowess of IT. A person in his mid 90’s in age, he spoke for more than 20 minutes clearly articulating his vision for the IT Industry in India and pledged his support in this endeavor. Over 900 participants, mostly CEO’s of IT Companies, in the august presence of Sri K T Rama Rao [KTR], honorable minister for IT, Govt. of Telangana stood up for a standing ovation to the Patriarch of the IT Industry in India and a true patriot.

I dedicate this blog to Padma Bhushan Dr. F C Kohli on the Independence Day and pray to the Almighty to give him long life and health to continue to be the Beacon for the IT Industry in years to come.

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Dr. FAQIR CHAND KOHLI

Profile

Born in Peshawar (Pakistan), Faqir Chand Kohli had his early education in Peshawar and Lahore. After graduating from Punjab University, Lahore he went to Queen’s University, Canada and received his B.Sc. (Hons.) in Electrical Engineering and later his MS in Electrical Engineering from MIT.

After a brief stint in US training in Power System Operation Planning, he returned to India in early August 1951 and joined Tata Electric Companies. He quickly rose in ranks to become director of Director of Tata Electric Companies in 1970 and was instrumental in introducing several advanced engineering and management techniques for the operation of power systems. He was also responsible for significant use of digital computers for power system design and control, using the CDC 3600 mainframe computer at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. All this while he simultaneously working as consultant to Tata Consulting Engineers.

In September 1969, when he moved to TCS as General Manager, it marked the beginning of IT development in our country. TCS pioneered India’s IT Revolution and helped the country to build the IT Industry. 

Be it the propagation of computerization in India or bringing the benefits of IT to India’s rural masses through computer based Adult Literacy programmes, Kohli saw IT as an instrument of national development. He has been working on advancing engineering education at undergraduate level to world standards to create a large pool of students ready for undertaking graduate studies and research.

F C Kohli is a fellow of IEEE USA, IET UK, Institution of Engineers India, Computer Society of India and many others. He has received multiple Doctorates in Engineering (Honoris Causa) from the University of Waterloo (Canada), Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, U.K., University of Roorkee (UP), from IIT Bombay, Jadhavpur University, Kolkata and IIT Kanpur. He has received many awards including the prestigious Dadabhai Naoroji Memorial Award in 2001, and was conferred the Padma Bhushan in the year 2002.

A visionary and pioneer by nature, Dr. F. C. Kohli is acknowledged as the ‘Father of the Indian Software Industry’.

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Field Punishment – An episode from my early days in the Army

I tasted my first drink at the age of 15 when I was barely out of school . I used to drink once in a while at the college. During our training at the Indian Military Academy [IMA] ,Dehra Dun , India , we ,Gentlemen Cadets were  not allowed to drink .[I understand now they can have a glass of beer during social occasions!]. This episode happened when we were on a forward area tour of Sikkim during our course break in December 1965 .

After landing at Siliguri , the rail head , our batch of 20 cadets proceeded by road in military vehicles towards the Chinese border under the supervision of  an instructor, a Major  from IMA . After a lunch break at Teesta , we proceeded to Rongli , our night halt for Day 1 at a height of 3000 feet above Mean Sea Level. We were accommodated at the Officer’s Mess of an Animal Transport Company. The officer commanding of this Company  invited us for dinner . It was very cold at night in the peak of winter and the Major , our host ,wanted to offer us all a drink. He requested our Instructor for permission who reluctantly permitted all of us to have half a peg of any alcoholic drink.

While I was grudgingly taking my rationed drink, a Captain from the host company asked me if I would like to drink more, I said yes  and he took me to another side room and poured me a large peg of Rum. Needless to say I thoroughly enjoyed it and continued drinking with him for more than an hour without our Instructor noticing it . I believe I took about eight large pegs and was told later on that I was really in ” high spirits ” throughout the rest of the evening , started singing loudly and indulged in all “un- officer like ” behavior and skipped my dinner. I passed out on top of a ping pong table and was escorted to my tent by my colleagues for the night.

All hell broke when I got up in the morning and our Instructor wanted to take severe action on my conduct and report  this at IMA when we got back. He told me I will get relegated to the next junior batch losing 6 months of seniority in the bargain. The Company Commander pleaded with our Instructor against it and suggested that as this “offence ” happened in the field , I may undergo a ” Field Punishment ” there only . The punishment decided was that I should walk to the next destination – Padam Chin [height 10,000 feet] ,about 5 hours drive up the hills . Another cadet who did not give me away to our Instructor  ,the previous night when questioned about my identity , was also sent along with me.

We started after break fast and enjoyed the journey of about 12 hours on foot , bought some liquor en route and reached the destination by late evening. The party was already there by lunch time. It happened to be 31st December and our hosts at Padam Chin , another Army Unit wanted us to join the cocktail and dinner. We confided in the host about our rules for drinking. He said ,not to worry. What he did surprised us for its ingenuity – He got our instructor drunk in his tent , before joining for dinner . During the cock tail session, we played a game singing ” Nine green bottles hanging on the wall ‘ and each cadet singing will move to the bar and take a drink in turn. Our instructor was present but could not comprehend clearly what was going on !. Need less to say we enjoyed the New Year Eve party thoroughly and I for one and my buddy, the ” Field Punishment ” In Sikkim preceding that ,during the day.

Tail Piece – On the following day , New Year Day , we were hosted for lunch at Kupup Tri-Junction short of Jelep La pass by the local Brigade Commander. He ordered for beer for all the cadets and when our instructor objected , told him to keep quiet as he ,the Brigadier , is in command there and everyone will follow his orders!  We secretly said ” Three Cheers” to the Brigadier!

Post Script – I served in the rank of Major during 1979-82 in Sikkim at a high altitude field workshop as its Officer Commanding near Nathula Pass. I made it a point to visit the Officers Mess at Padam Chin out of sheer nostalgia.