By M.V.Ramakrishnan

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Kicked Upstairs : Field Marshal Manekshaw, Field Captain Batterji

Among the good things independent India inherited from its former imperial rulers was a well-organized Government set-up, both civil and military.   It wasn't normally possible to view the Army's affairs in a humorous light;  but once in a while such situations did arise, as when General Sam Manekshaw retired on promotion, which was fine grist to my Shankar's Weekly mill!


Glossary  (in same order as in text)

Field Marshal  --  The Indian Army retained (and still retains) the British designations for officers, from Lieutenant to General, though it adopted native terms for the lower ranks.  Field Marshal is an honorary title conferred only on two distinguished war veterans so far, Generals Sam Manekshaw and K.M. Cariappa.

Mantri  --   Minister, in Hindi  --  not a term typically used as a person's name.

File Bhavan  --  'Bhavan' is a Hindi expression which broadly denotes 'institution'.  Very near the massive and monumental twin Secretariat Buildings in New Delhi, where the Ministries are located, there are a number of relatively small but quite spacious buildings housing the various Departmental Headquarters  and bearing native names like Krishi Bhavan (Agriculture, 'krishi' meaning crops),  Udyog Bhavan (Industry and Commerce),  etc.  For no reason known to me, there's also the hybrid Rail Bhavan, which makes my File Bhavan sound very real!

Chief Minister  --  Corresponding to the Prime Minister at the Centre are the Chief Ministers in the various States in India's federal system.

Gazette notifications --  Senior officers' postings, transfers, etc. are notified in the Gov. of India's official Gazette.

Burochari --  An imaginary name, resembling actual South Indian names like Rangachari, Gopalachari, etc.  

Under-Secretary  --  The designations of 'gazetted officers' in the Government of India Secretariat are as follows:  Secretary  -  Additional Secretary  --  Joint Secretary  --  Deputy Secretary  --  Under-Secretary.  (Section Officer is a non-gazetted rank).

21-4-73  --  In India, dates in short form are usually expressed as Day-Month-Year.

Batterji  --  Obviously improvised from 'batsman', but with an amusing connection with three popular names in West Bengal State  --  Chatterji, Bannerji  and Mukherji --  which were invented by the British bosses, who couldn't properly pronounce the authentic Bengali names Chattopadhyaya, Bandhopadyaya and Mukhopadhyaya. Somehow they hadn't meddled with Battacharya, so I just made good the omission with Batterji!

Wedding invitation  --  Its relevance in this context is the prestige and status symbolism attached to the designation of the bride's father --  Under-Secretary, being a 'gazetted officer', distinctly ranks above Section Officer, a non-gazetted post;  and it sounds much better alongside the designation of the bridegroom's father!

Srimathi/Sri  --  Sanskrit for 'Mrs./Mr.'  --  adopted in most Indian languages, of which there are many.

IAS  --  Indian Administrative Service, conceived broadly conceived on same lines as the British Civil Service. 

Kalyana Mandapam  -- Tamil for 'marriage palace'. 

Muhurtham  --  Auspicious morning time for Hindu wedding ceremony.

Svaraswami  --  Imaginary name for a Carnatic musician ('swara' meaning musical note), resembling Sivaswami, a real Tamil name.  Traditionally in South Indian middle-class weddings, it used to be fashionable to have a reception in the evening, with dinner clashing with a classical music concert.  The idea is still in vogue to some extent, but the concert concept is fading out gradually. 


Shankar's Weekly 21 Jan/ 1973
Upstairs And Out!

I HAVE seen phrase books in several European languages , but none of them ever indicated the equivalent of the English expression "being kicked upstairs."  This typical British practice is perhaps not much favoured on the Continent!

We in India, of course, are not averse to adopting time-honored British conventions.  The latest instance is the 'promotion' of General Sam Manekshaw to the rank of Field Marshal, which he will hold for life.

In the British Army, it is reported, a General who is promoted to the rank of Field Marshal in peace time normally lays down his office soon afterwards.   In keeping with this tradition, Field Marshal Manekshaw relinquished his appointment as Chief of the Army Staff on January 15, and was succeeded by General Bewoor.

It is commendable that an outgoing soldier or official should be honored with a higher rank than the one he enjoyed while in service.  Particularly in our political, economic and social milieus in India, this would mean so much to the persons concerned.  I therefore recommend that this excellent practice may be followed in all cases, and not merely in the case of retiring Generals.  If the authorities accept this suggestion, we can look forward to communications like the following:-



New Delhi, Jan. 20

Mr. C.K. Mantri, Union Deputy Minister, has been promoted as Honorary Minister, which rank he will hold for life.

In accordance with prevailing traditions, Mr. Mantri is expected to relinquish office shortly.  It is understood that the name of his successor will be announced in a few days.

Newsmen who called on the Deputy Minister at File Bhavan this afternoon found him in a jubilant mood.  Mr. Mantri said that as soon as he is relieved of his present duties he would go back to his State and become Chief Minister there, which would be easier now in view of his new rank at the Centre.



MINISTRY OF FINANCE (Department of Expenditure)
Gazette Notifications

New Delhi
May 14, 1973

No. 76893  --  Shri R.S. Burochari, Section Officer, Ministry of Finance, assumed charge as Under-Secretary with effect from 21-4-73 forenoon, on promotion.


No. 76894  --  Shri R.S. Burochari, Unde-Secretary, Ministry of Finance, retired from service with effect from 22-4-73 forenoon, on attaining the age of superannuation.



Bombay, June 23

Following India's spectacular victory  over the visiting Australian cricket team, the Board of Control for Cricket has decided to promote the Indian skipper, Anil Batterji, as Field Captain.

Batterji will retain this title for life.  He will not, however, be eligible to participate in future Test matches.

The selectors are meeting here shortly to select a new Test Captain.  The most likely choice is Pitchpal Singh, the brilliant all-rounder from Haryana.

Talking to newsmen here today, Anil Batterji said that this honor meant a great deal to him, as it will enabe him to retain his present job in a reputable Bombay firm.




                                            Wedding  Invitation

                                 Srimathi & Sri  R.S. Burochari
                                   (Retired Under Secretary,
                              Ministry of Finance, Govt. of India)

                                   request the pleasure of your
                               company with family and friends
                                       on the occasion of the
                                    marriage of their daughter    
                                       K. RANGARAJAN, IAS
                                       (Collector, Thako Chak)

                                                     son of
                                   Srimathi & Sri R.K. Iyengar
                                  Retired Accountant-General
                                                     at the
                            Balaji Kalyana Mandapam, Madras         
                                      on Friday, July 27, 1973
                              Muhurtham: 8 a.m. to 9-30 a.m.
                                Reception/Dinner:  6-30 p.m.
                           (Music by Sri Swaraswami & Party)


PostScript, 2013
Prophetic phenomenon!

I think I must have possessed some mysterious and divine power of clairvoyance in early 1973,  A few days ago I had explained how close I had got to inventing the name of Gorbachov in a Shankar's Weekly article in April 1973  (The Eras Of Comrade Babov And Comrade Gabov, 17 March 2013).  And here's an article I had written just three months earlier, in Jan. 1973, in which I mentioned an imaginary character called Pitchpal Singh (suggesting a cricket pitch and sounding so much like the real-life name Pritpal Singh), who soon turned out to be an amazingly prophetic phenomenon! 

For the legendary batsman/fast-bowler Kapil Dev  (who made his debut at the national level playing for Haryana State in 1975 and quickly emerged in the international scene as one of the most successful Captains in Test cricket, winning the World Cup in 1983) was nothing but 'the brilliant all-rounder from Haryana' in real life!  Surely, another instance of my gazing into an amazing crystal ball!

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