Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Bharat Darshan Chronicles-III

This is third part of the Bharat Darshan series. If you are a new visitor, you may read the first and second parts by clicking the hyperlinks.

We traveled from Dantewada to Vishakhapatnam by road. The landscape of the region is marvelous spreading across Chattisgarh, Orrisa and Andhra Pradesh. The entire road runs along Eastern Ghats.

The path had ideal setting of sceneries we used to draw as a child. There were beautiful mountains and the river running across them. Then there was that colorful sky at the sunset with various shades and the red ball of fire vanishing in the horizon. There also were small scattered hamlets that dissolved in the landscape as twinkling lights along with sunset.

We reached Vishakhapatnam at around nine at night. Our attachment was with the Eastern Naval Command. A submariner had come to receive us. He introduced himself along with his rank and that’s when we realized that we should have known the hierarchy of the armed forces. Our predicament was to continue for next few days. We were taken to a Navy guest house named ‘Kremlin’, signifying our long defense ties with Russia. Our rooms were in no way less than any good hotel. After dumping our luggage, we rushed to the Mess, to have our dinner. A Mess in armed forces is quite different in many ways.

The atmosphere is formal with a proper dress code. You go there and sit with a stern face and the rest of the job shall be done by the waiters. A plate will appear in front of you along with other items. You try hard not make any noise while eating with the fork and knife. After that you close your plate by putting the fork and spoon parallel and the waiter will ensure he picks it from the right direction. Those three days of ‘formal dining’ were the most stressful part of our attachment.

Next day our Navy attachment officially began with a visit to Maritime Warfare center. There sailors are taught, how to control a ship with the help of computer aided simulations. War games are prepared and trainees learn to use the controls of the ship. After this we went to visit a warship INS Ranjit. The captain of the ship was the only serving Mahavir Chakra winner in Navy. He explained us about defense equipments, materials bought from Russia and the difference from their American counterparts.

Here I have a good news for ladies. Any lady who goes on a warship receives a salute from the officer in command. The reason is that they treat ship as a lady, so it is a token of respect. And then came the visit that we can never forget; the visit to submarine INS Sindhudhwaj.

The difficult life that submariners live has to be seen to be believed. A person cannot stand erect in a submarine. When it ventures out in the sea, the submariners get a ration of one mug water a day to do all their activities. They have no contact with the outer world and no one other than the captain knows where they are, how long the operation shall continue and what is happening in the outside world. Also in case of an accident or attack, the chances of survival are slim.

In the evening we had an interaction with the Chief of the command, a Rear Admiral. He briefed us about the importance of Navy in general and operations of Eastern command in particular. He explained us how Navy is a strategic force which has an important role in the present geopolitical scenario. He also told us about the continuous struggle of Navy to get a bigger share in the defense budget. The official schedule had no plan of taking us out into the sea but we requested him for that and he agreed. The day after was going to be in the sea, on a warship INS Kripan.

Our sea journey started early in the morning. We were welcomed by the captain and the entire crew. There we came to know that in the night at two, they had returned from a military exercise. They had been in the sea for last two months and now they were going to have rest. But then they were asked to take us into the sea. I was really impressed by their cheerfulness in entertaining the forced guests, i.e. IAS probationers.

The weather was good and it was amazing to feel the breeze on the deck Even walking was difficult due to wind but we tried to emulate the Titanic pose. We were treated royally on the ship with juices and shakes being served on the deck After sometime the captain gave a go ahead to the exercises that were simultaneously being planned.

A ship called INS Sukanya came along and then both ships exchanged man and material by rope. They sent us ‘Idlis’ while our ship sent a bag of sweets. Then men were exchanged via rope connecting the two ships. After that an IAF chopper landed on the moving ship and then flew back. Firing on a target was also practiced and there I fired the first machine gun of my life. The day spent on the ship was one of the best experiences of Bharat Darshan.

That day we came back late. In the evening some of us went to the beach. Staring the raw form of nature evokes strange feelings and the philosophical questions come gushing back to me, what is life, what is my aim, and what I want to do. Many times the truth of life is equally simple and complex. When I look back, I feel that everything in life just happens and we are only spectators.

Next day we went to see the ‘Satavahanas’ that was training school for submariners. The training there is more difficult than life in the submarine. And after every three years, everyone has to come back and go through the training again. In the afternoon we had a debriefing session with the Chief of Staff, Admin. It was more of a general ‘Gyan session’. He shared his philosophy of life. Interestingly he criticized the hierarchy of civil services, an element that was more pervasive in armed forces. He told us an interesting story.

A young IAS was newly posted as an SDM in a district. The DM called him for a meeting that was for discussing the arrangements of marriage of his daughter. The young officer had no clue so he took his head clerk along with him for this meeting. The DM asked how many sweets should be present in the wedding. The head clerk prompted the SDM to say that five kinds of sweets will be good.

After the marriage, our SDM received a call from the DM thanking him for the arrangements of sweets. When the SDM inquired from his head clerk how arrangements were made and from which fund the money came, he replied “Sir, didn’t you pass an order for spraying insecticides in the villages. The insecticides have been ‘perfectly’ sprayed and that is where the money came from”.

Well, I sincerely pray that we don’t end up spraying insecticides in such a fashion. Our official Navy attachment ended with this. For most of us, this was the first close interaction with armed forces. I was inspired by the great work they are doing for the nation work and I wish that we, as civil servants are able to emulate it.

Next day we had to move for Rajamundry, and then to Sringarei coalfields for our public sector attachment


CrEaTiVe WrItEr said...

ok, from dantewada to the east coast and into the sea! Bharat Darshan seems to be the best part of training!
waiting for the next chronicle..

CrEaTiVe WrItEr said...

just 1 question. what after bharat darshan? would you be posted to the district as an sdo/sdm for informal training? and how long does that last?

Anonymous said...

insightful and entertaining post. Training you guys get sounds very interesting.U guys see the length and breadth of india in such a short span. amazing!The IFS guys also seem to get interesting training.Dont know how it works for the other services. probably not so interesting i guess.

Saagar said...

Nice post once again, get ready with some knowledge about marriages too, might be helpful for u :)

Btw, whats wrong with your RSS feed, your new posts don't show up anymore on my Google Home page..

sitharamaraju said...

Thanks anurag. You are an amazing writer. How many days are allotted for Bharat darshan. And well , when is your next post on Bharat Darsan ?? :)

Hari said...

Hi Anurag,
Coudn't really get the essence of tale of DM and SDM.

What is the relationship btn sweets and insecticides ?

Anurag Srivastava said...

@creative writer: I discovered on Bharat Darshan that traveling is a big learning experience in itself. My Bharat darshan was over in feb, its for 2 months and only once in the career. I am in LBSNAA and I shall be here till May end, after that I go to the district.

@anonymous: Yes so far so good, I am enjoying the training. Well it is indeed the truth that IAS and IFS guys gets the maximum touring and darshans :)

@Saagar: You again reminded me that I am going to get married soon, seems like the butterflies one has while moving in a new college and hostel :)

Is RSS feed working now? I have done some changes

@Sitharamaraju: Thanks for appreciating the post. Bharat darshan is only once in career, so its over now. It is of 2 months duration.

@Hari: The money was channeled to fund the sweets :) Anyways I have modified the story a bit now, to make it more understandable

k.karthikeyan said...

You have mastered the secret of blogging :)

Did you take any photos during the dharshan? You can put those photos in between the paragraphs. It is just a suggestion. I really suggest you to put these chronicles as a book. Definitely it will find readers.

I saw your engagement pictures. Congrats and my best wishes.

Ashish said...

Hi Anurag,

Well you seem to have a way with words...the opening paragraph is beautifully phrased...the entire scenery comes alive as if one is really looking at the I realize where you scored those marks in Pub Ad from ;) !!

Well you are really lucky to have the 'once in a service-time' BHARAT DARSHAN...or rather you deserved it :)...but for us poor souls, your narrative is the only window to see the future from a civil servant's do keep writing and sharing your chronicles as and when you can.

The battleship and submarine visits must have been an awesome experience...I can only imagine!!

So long then...

Anurag Srivastava said...

@kartik: replied to your comment on post Do we lack brain

@ashish: Thanks for the appreciation. I am happy my blogs prove that my marks were well desreved :)

chakresh mishra said...

DM cannot has a daughter of marriageable age. DMs are generally in their 30s. Am I right sir?
anyway good chronicle.

Bharat said...


When does the training for the newly selected IAS officers end?

I know it begins this September, but how long before a trainee gets a proper posting and place of residence in the district, so that parents can reside with him/her?