” Call me General, dammit!”

It’s unfortunate but many of us civilians do not have much idea of ranks in the Defence Services. This leads to awkward – and often amusing – situations. Many years ago, someone from our organisation wrote to a retired Major General of the Indian Army who was the Chief Executive of a large industrial undertaking. Unfortunately, the letter was addressed to ” Major B…”which resulted in the gentleman sending us a stinker!

To make matters worse, some days later a relatively senior executive was sent to meet the General and smooth things over as it were. Sadly, this man did not know it is customary to address a Major General ( retired or otherwise) as ” General “. He began by saying ” We are very sorry, Major” to which the General tersely barked “Call me General, dammit!”.

If our friend had known that there is a vast difference in the hierarchy between a Major and a Major General he wouldn’t have made the faux pas!

Since It Can’t Be You is largely about the life of an officer in the Indian Army, here are the officers’ ranks in that grand old institution.

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