This is a very interesting and educative experience from past. I was the Divisional Officer in Foxtrot Squadron in 1990. I used to take practically all the Army related classes for the sixth term Army cadets of my squadron and hence was quite close to them professionally as well personally.
Dinner Night Before Final Exam
Before the final exam for the Army subjects a dinner night came up in NDA. On that day I was the officiating Squadron Commander. It is normal service culture to compromise on values to win competitions. Performance of the cadets in this exam was also treated as a competition. Foxtrot Squadron sixth term Army cadets approached me to exempt them from attending the dinner night to focus on their studies. The demand was quite genuine but not in accordance with my values. I told them that they must attend the dinner-night.
Why should We Suffer because of Your Stupid Values?
Since I have never been an authoritarian person my students and soldiers have been fairly open in expressing their views to me.I don’t remember the name of the cadet who asked me, “Why should we suffer because of your stupid values? If you were not the officiating Squadron Commander or we were in any of the other 14 squadrons we would have been exempted from dinner night without even asking?”
I replied that I agreed with what they felt & it was their bad luck to be stuck with me. I still reasoned that since we had worked systematically then these additional two hours which they would have got would not really matter much in the final exam & they could look back with pride for performing well despite not bending the existing norms. They went back with sad faces resigned to suffer because of their stupid boss.
Result: Foxtrot Squadron Best!
Bayonet pins are awarded to the top performers in Army subjects. Foxtrot Squadron won more bayonet pins than all the other squadrons. We had won despite abiding by the norms. I don’t know whether my students learnt some lesson from this incident or not in any case I have not changed. I am still the stupid guy!
Colonel M.M Nehru
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