SSB Interview aspirants now a days are so familiar with the term `OLQs’ (Officer Like Qualities) thanks to the much increased awareness, better information network, lot of books and a number of SSB coaching academies.
The concept of OLQs has been well researched. Military training strengthens OLQs. Military life provides opportunities to practice OLQs in all spheres- Operational- Administration- Maintenance. Over a period of time OLQs become your nature, your identity….If not, then there would be something seriously wrong with the person!!
Here is a real story on Officer Like Qualities. Hope you would take home something from this.
Some three decades back when I joined the Indian Air Force as an officer, the working and social environment was different. Much more different than what is prevalent today.
In March 1988 I was chosen as the leader of Training Command Cycling Expedition. We had to start from Bangalore (now Bengaluru)- head straight on the Bombay (now Mumbai) highway- reach upto Dharwad- and turn toward Panjim (now Panaji). Then take a southward turn- reach upto Ernakulam crossing the entire coastal Karnataka from Karwar- then take eastwards- Reach Bangalore via- Thekadi- Dindigal-Salem.
The route was long- terrain was challenging and the weather was hot and swelter. Anyway the core and the context of the matter is something different here.
We had long briefing about the expedition with the maps and the contingency plans. Days were different then. No GPS, no cell phones- LL phones and STD booths had just started showing up- and were thought of a matter of luxury.
Connectivity was the problem but this lack of connectivity had added a very special quality among the masses- Tolerance to Ambiguity.
I, as a leader of expedition had the special responsibility not only towards the success of the mission but also towards the welfare and discipline of the team members. All these while my mind was preoccupied with these thoughts though my team-members were quite co-operative and very well disciplined.
Think of devil- and devil will be there. The thought of any contingency always haunted my mind- and sure enough it came!! It was 15th March and there was a Bharat Bandh Call given by (Late) V P Singh on the Bofors issue (hope you know/remember what it was). That time we were passing through the coastal Kerala- beautiful and inviting- and a landscape with thought of the Eden. Yes- what was unbearable was the humidity and though it was only the March- the heat was quite parching!!
To ditch the heat we used to get up very early in the morning and set course on the expedition as early as 4.30 in order to cover maximum distance before the sun could grip the region with its heat. Breakfast used to be around 7.30 at any respectable and clean Dhaba. On that fateful day the same followed. Early in the morning we set course. At the break of dawn- we realized that the worst was in store for us!
Public responded well to the Bandh call by erecting obstacles on the road. All the business establishment were sworn not to entertain any transaction- come what may!
The morning labor of nearly two hours left me and my team hungry and exhausted. We badly needed food- tea-water and our sources on the roads remained locked. I tried to arouse the compassion of a few coconut water sellers who stockpiled their coconuts on the roads- but they would not buzz. And within no time the wisdom dawned on me that advancing further is impossible. I decided to halt and check in any motel. So ordered my team to put on the Air Force trek suits and search for any motel or resort.But Kerala is Kerala- especially in the matter of political sensitivity. We found a couple of roadside resorts- but they too refused to take up any business. I thought the day to be really cursed.
Then suddenly a thought flashed in my mind- To search for any Army/ Navy or NCC Units nearby. And my flash gave instant hope when we came to know that a DSC training unit was quite close by. Yes – we were near Cannonur (now Kannur).
With our Air Force trek suits we entered the premises of the DSC training Unit. I found out the office of the Adjutant. One Major Chandy was the adjutant who met me with great warmth- offered me water and tea and then asked me about my requirements. I pleaded him if it was possible for the Unit to accommodate and shelter my team for the next 24 hrs.
The officer there was quite senior, experienced and warm. Whatever he did resulted in arrangement of everything from shelter to my men in the Langar- instant arrangement of breakfast etc and then the Major detailed one Jawan to be with me in their officer’s mess and look after my comforts.
The hospitality was really great. We restarted on our expedition when the situation calmed down the next day. We had nothing but unlimited thanks for the sister organisation that came as our patron in crisis. Mentioning the warmth and their hospitality in my debrief was too little for the timely help and assurance they gave to us. Later I came to know that Major Chandy had sent a telegram also to HQ Training Command that the Air Force guys are safe with the Army.
Who was Major Chandy? Did I know him ever? Did he know me ever?
But he displayed unique spirit of empathy- accommodation-and a bond- that irrespective of the colour of uniforms we are ONE. Your happiness, sorrows, woos are equally mine.
This is a true example of Officer Like Qualities (OLQs) – Social Adaptability, Co-operation and Sense of Responsibility.
Do you have any such experience where you observed the other person reflecting good example of OLQs? Share it below.