For your kind information and necessary action please

Thus ended most letters in the Indian Army.  During my young officer days, I asked a senior colleague as the need for ending all official correspondence with such a line.  He said that it padded up the letter and the letter will look incomplete without such an epilogue.

I never understood as to how the information could ever be kind to anyone and what was the need to send the letter in the first place in case no action was needed.  Someone told me that it was to be specific as to what the person at the other end must do.  If that person was ignorant of what is to be done with the letter, I never understood as to how that person could be educated about it with that very clichéd line.

The information asked for is attached herewith as Appendix to this letter.” This is another superfluous  epilogue I found in many letters written in reply to a query requesting data or information.  An Appendix means an attachment and is never mailed in a separate envelop, it is always placed in the same envelop (herewith,) and always with a covering letter (to this letter.)

As a Brigade Major and as a Commanding Officer were the only two occasions when I could get the staff and subordinate officers to doing away with these epilogues.  My reasoning was that it saved time, ink and paper (think of the number of trees that could have been saved.)

One clerk said that it had become an instinct and his fingers never stopped until he typed the epilogue.  One clerk said the idea was great, but will only be in practice until you are around and the next officer taking over from you will insist on the epilogue and hence the reluctance.

LOL, OMG, FTW etc are commonly used abbreviations in the cyber world in the age digital communications and text messaging.  These are understood by everyone across the continents and have been evolved over a period of usage and it still continues to evolve.  As young officers, we were given a book of abbreviations to be used in the Army called ‘Appendix C.‘  The introductory paragraph of the book said that use of abbreviations were to reduce time and effort and assist in assimilation and it will facilitate telegraphy (old analog methodology of transmitting text). 

We used to be summoned to the Adjutant’s office with the abbreviations book, to scan through every word in a document to be sent to the higher headquarters to ensure that any word that found a place in the abbreviations book had been abbreviated and in case the abbreviation used was correctly used.  In case of any errors, either the entire page was retyped or else the correcting fluid was liberally used.  One can imagine the amount of time spent on the task in place of the time it was meant to save.

When the entire world was using the word fax as an abbreviated form for facsimile (the current generation may not be aware of the origin of the word,),the abbreviation book called it fx.  Luckily it was changed to fax.  If you ask someone for a lap, it does not mean that you want to sit on their lap or rest your head on their lap, but it is understood that it is a request for their laptop computer.

There is an abbreviation DHPP and the very same Appendix C calls it as ‘Diesel High Power Point’ in place of ‘Diesel High Pour Point.’  It actually means that this type of diesel has a high pour point.   The pour point of a liquid is the temperature at which it becomes semi solid and loses its flow characteristics. In diesel, the pour point is the temperature at which the paraffin in the fuel has crystallised to the point where the fuel gels and becomes resistant to flow.  It is surely not a Power Point presentation the least.

World over uses left aligned format for all types of correspondence (all lines in the letter are aligned to the left.)  This facilitates easier reading on the hand held PDAs (Personal Digital Assistant) and cell (cellular) phones.  The Indian government for its official correspondence still continues to have subject line centered and some parts offset to the right side, the Indian Army also continues with the age-old practice.  You can imagine how someone using a PDA is to read such a letter and make sense of it.

We need to change with time and cater for all the developments taking place around us in all aspects of life and official correspondence is no different.

6 thoughts on “For your kind information and necessary action please

  1. Good one Reji. So many phrases have no meaning.” Necessary action ” is basically defensive saving your backside usage. Also endorsements on letters / notes are also amusing. In one of the corporates I worked for a boss who used to write “PDTN” . I being clueless of this acronym googled and found one of the expansion this expression “Please destroy this note” . Since it was an important letter I sought clarification. My boss was initially shocked , gathered himself and with a glare told me ” PDTN also means please do the needful!”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. If you do not know what a receiver is expected to do on the matter, you can easily wash your hands of by saying: Please do the needful. (“I am innocent of the blood of this just matter!” – Modern day Pilate) I presume, ‘needful’ may be the word that has had maximum wear and tear while coming out from a government machinery. Hold on to the horse tight lest it should buck you off!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reji, good one. This does cross every thinker’s mind but you have put it down in writing. There are many dos & donts in vogue in our society and they keep evolving with time. So also in fauj things do change for eg our DSR and also our Gunnery Bible (Fire discp pamphlet). Good Morning etc, Ram Ram etc has now become ‘Jai Hind’ for good. But I feel all must be allowed to think out of box and suggest / implement what is good for the present. Not to be regid and stick to irrelevant traditions.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Regi, good article. Todays youngsters communicate in whattsapp completely in abrevations which we find difficult to follow. In future, entire communications will be in shortform only. Seperate book should be published for answers. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Well said ! The article will put a smile on any Faujis face as this is something all of us have felt and faced . Especially the part about ‘ for your necessary action and kind information ‘
    All of us at some point would have tried to change it but as your staff rightly said that the change is so long as the person is !

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s