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Saturday, December 29, 2012

KBC Syndrome

         I wonder what made the tv program KBC so popular. Notwithstanding the star value and the prize money, the main reason for the popularity, I suppose is the limited thinking it calls for. Choose among four options and if you find that two, too many, go for fifty-fifty and if that is also beyond your reach, then ask someone who, you think knows the answer. 

         Suppose someone were to ask you what was the blunder committed by Stonewall Jackson, which changed the course of American history. The question does not give the slightest clue as to whether the perpetrator of the offence was a politician or a baseball player. Yet, under KBC format, one could successfully negotiate the question, keeping your ignorance of American history intact.

How simple life becomes, when you apply the KBC or the MCQ format to day to day situations !

A clever mother does not ask the kids “What would you have for breakfast ?” This may be just the beginning of of an unending discusion or arguement as neither the kids have a clear idea of what they want nor the mother has a clear idea of how she can produce what the kids ask for.

So it is “Bread or Parantha ?”, “Coffee, Tea ?” “butter or jam ?” and so it goes.

With designer wears available for every item of clothing and accessories you just need to choose a brand name, at best an informed guess. Of course, there are variations in the same brand, but an expert comes to the rescue.

If you want to build a house , you frst choose a builder selling residential flats and then a financial institution to loan the amount. Simplicity itself. Compare this to site selection, design of house, procurement of materials , organising the labour force, etc etc. The issue gets simpler if you have selected the right father in law (or a husband; to be politically right, parent in law or the spouse) Then He or She would take care of the mortgages.

Most of the examinations today are based on objective type of question paper with “guess the right answer” and “head or tails” (Some insist that they are actually “choose the right answer' and true or false' ) questions.

Nothing brings out the KBC Syndrome better than an omnious computer screen to install a new application. Many of us would be familiar with the need to choose among “full, compact, standard and custom options to choose from. with standard, selected by default. How many of us have chosen the 'custom' option ?

The busy life we lead (or pretend to lead) nowadays precludes any original thinking. The theme of the game is why should one think when a set of options have been thought of by someone paid to think. In other words, think only when paid to do so or when there are no other options !

Even the options are to be derived by someone 'thinking' through complex situatons. Nothing wrong with that, but the fact is that less and less people or required to think while the vast majority just see the laid out options and click a radio button. Will brain become another vestigial organ ?!

What's more interesting is that even when the choices are well defined, most of us steer clear of the situation when the number of options exceed four, ie the number specified by our super hero. The situation is termed, “Complex” and you run to an expert or a professional for a fifty-fifty !

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Too much of Democracy

Too much of democracy.. too many rights and too  few responsibilities

It all started with an absolutely heinous crime. The criminals seem to fear no law, no law enforcer or no law maker. It may be persumed that when something  takes place like 9/11, 26/11 or for that matter the Newtown shoot out in US, everyone; the govt, the opposition , Police , citizens all unite against the perpetrators of the ghastly crime.. No, not in India and definitely not in Delhi.

The criminals fear nobody. It goes without saying that neither law makers nor law enforcers fear anyone except perhaps losing their power.

Coming to the protestors, they are law unto themselves. Do they fear anything or anyone ? When there were 'police brutalities' being shown on the TV channels, I saw atleast one young woman pouncing like a panther on an unsuspecting policeman.

We have a right to protest, so will protest when we want where we want, the way we want. You can't send us off to jantar mantar or ramlila maidan. We like to protest at India Gate. The fact that delhites prefer to call the National War Memorial as 'India Gate' hurts me every time I hear it spoken and to add to the woes we have 'India Gate basmati rice'. So much for the sanctity of a war memorial.

The media and the Internet community is livid with the police using water cannons; after all the protesters were just peacefully storming thorough the police barricades and marching towards Rashtrapathi Bhawan, to shake hands with the President. Can't a citizen meet the President of the Republic ? Who are these policemen to come in between ?

Arvind Kejriwal tweats "defy sec 144 , come to india gate". What are laws for except to defy ?

The so called national media has been stuck with dilli news for ever.  When I want to watch national or international news I tune to DD News or even a regional channel like 'puthiya thalaimurai'. Ya, to get an update on  the law and order or traffic situation in Delhi I tune to ndtv or cnn-ibn. Does the the media respect anything or any institution ? Whatever they say on their channel, it is worth reading their tweats, to know how they feel on any issue.

Sagarika Ghosh of CNN-IBN tweats  "Those ridiculous lal battis, ape-like commandos, fortified bungalows, all VIPs shd give up "security" and feel ïnsecurity" of public "

Does she know  how many times the "ape-like being" must have risked his life to train himself to become a commando and does she have an idea of the continuous training and deprivation one goes through to remain a commando? Well she is exercising her freedom of expression. Defy authority, demean the security forces, after all she is paying her taxes out of which army, police and the other govt servants are paid.

Overall I think  India in general and Delhi in particular needs to understand an ounce of their responsibilities than fight for  tonnes of their rights.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

risk profile :army

The piece was written during the course of a month long LRP (Long Range Patrol), at an altitude of about 15000-16000 feet, circa 1996. It was written in bits and pieces, in the scrap book, in field shelters. The immediate trigger was the number of standard operating procedures army has in place , to avoid / counter all conceivable hazards like avalanche, blizzard, flash floods, frost bite , HYPO (High Altitude Pulmonary Oedema), fire hazards and carbon monoxide poisoning from 'sigris' and of course enemy action. At times you wonder as to which was more hazardous, whether the avalanche or the restrictions imposed by 'measures to avoid avalanche' .

Nothing much has changed in the last 16 years and I haven't changed anything but for some annotations for civilian friends, since it is  a typical military format.



1.      Consequent to a comprehensive in-depth study carried out by (Management of Information System (MIS) Army HQ, it has been revealed that over 90% of fatal casualties in the army, in peace time, occurs in bed. Even in stray cases where the victims lost consciousness else where the actual death occurred only in bed. Hence forth all these casualties will be termed as bed casualties. While it is an indisputable fact that bed casualties can be totally done away by avoiding beds all together, a point to be taken note of is that human beings are more inclined to adapt a horizontal configuration wheresoever and when ever possible. As a humane approach to the issue, it is proposed to make 'going to bed ' as safe as possible.


  1. These instructions lay down guidelines for minimising bed casualties in the army.


  1. Minimising bed casualties will be a command responsibility and commander at all levels will be held accountable , meaning end of the career, for any lapses.

Bed Hours

  1. It is an obvious fact that minimum hours in bed (named bed hours) will ultimately result in minimising bed casualties. It is desirable that bed hours are restricted to 4-6 hours per day and bed hours for various personnel in the unit be staggered to minimise risk of bed casualties at a any given time.


5. In the age of information and communication, this factor cannot be overemphasized. All personnel going to bed should be provided good communication. However due to paucity of resources in the first phase, communication will be provided only up to battalion commander level. Meanwhile to tide over the situation, line beddings(line bedding, for my civilian friends is an essential item of a soldier's kit, mainly for tying up his bedding but used multipurpose like, putting up a bivouac, making a stretcher, communication between fire trenches etc) will be used for inter bed communication. Master general of Ordnance (MGO branch has confirmed availability of sufficient stock of line bedding (LP) in their depots. MGO branch will issue separate instructions for demand issue and replacement of these items.

Rescue Party

6. All personnel going to bed will be covered by a rescue party located in situ, ab initio ; they will also be provided communication as Para 5 above. The details of duties of rescue party will be incorporated in the unit SOPs.


7. A thorough medical check up will be carried out in respect of all personnel before going to bed and after waking up. Units will maintain records and these records will be put up to visiting senior officers.

First Aid

8. Any personnel having any complaint while in bed will immediately be pulled out of the bed and brought to sitting or standing position. Meanwhile help will be called for.

Bunker Collapse

9. There have been instances where in personnel have been choked to death due to bunker collapse while in bed, in the field areas. The Engineer in Chief Branch has been tasked to explore the feasibility of replacing the CGI(Corrugated Galvanized Iron) sheets with paper and the ballies with sarkanda to prevent such occurrences (any takers for AVSM)


10. MIS has also pointed out that most of he bed casualties occurs in hospitals. It is proposed to remove all beds from hosp and convert the hospitals to STCs ( Standing Treatment Centers). Medical directorate has been tasked to work out the modalities.

Standing Court of Inquiry

11. All Station HQ (Formation HQ where Station HQ is not co located) will order standing C of I to investigate all cases of bed casualties

Reports and Returns

12. To efficiently monitor the entire op, it is directed that all commands forward a report as per format att (not to all) every qr. The first report should reach this HQ by 01 apr 1996.


13. These instructions are only some basic guidelines to minimise bed casualties . Imaginative and innovative methods have to be evolved keeping in view the overall picture in mind. With a concerted effort, Indian army would prove to be a shining example in this field, for the entire nation.