defence item involved meticulous planning and provisioning of high-precision gauges to be used at various stages. Since we were embarking upon the job for the first time in India, we had to obtain the blue-prints for the purpose from the British Admiralty. They were in the from of one single schedule catering for the different marks in use including the one being made by us. My boss Lt. Cdr. Rodney Todd by name, trained in England, was quite conversant with the practical aspects of the work. Nevertheless, he left the whole thing to me, both because he felt I could do it and it was the best way for me to learn. The result was I Bungled. Instead of confining my-self to the Particular mark in view, I prepared a demand for gauges for all the marks as given in the schedule. Quite a few of them had to be made in England, Since such sophisticated technology for making the special steel and achieving -the Precision was not then available with us. And so, the list as Prepared by me was forwarded and went through different
channels at higher levels without anyone detecting the grievous error.
None of us was wise to the ignominious blunder, least of all myself. It is difficult to imagine what sleepless nights of anxiety and fear of impending doom would otherwise have held me in thrall. For, as will be seen presently, my huge
mistake was to cost to the government quite an unnecessary loss of a few lakhs of rupees. This came to light only during the visit of a high-ranking Naval Officer sent to review and report on the progress we were making. While going through
the records, he was taken aback to find that we had ordered for so many guages not required for our purpose and he was in a towering rage. He was closeted with my boss whom he squarely took to task for such sheer incompetence amounting
to criminal negligence putting the government to the loss of a sizeable amount. What explanation had he to offer for such a disgraceful lapse? And so on.
Sitting in the adjacent room where I could heat everyghing, I felt as if I were the target of the 'slinge and arrows of the outrageous' insults sought to be heaped on thehead of my boss since the actual blame lay at my door. The impact on me of the realisation of the grave magnitude of my stupid error was stunning. I felt the need for courage to speak out the truth. After all, courage and honesty are not
things to be put on the shelf, to be used when convenient.