Are You a Gentleman (or Lady)…?

A few days ago — while tidying my bookcase and bookshelves and cleaning my books — I browsed through my old diaries which I have preserved with great care.

During my student days — and even later — during my Navy days — I always carried around a diary and jotted down anything I found interesting — anything I read or heard or saw that appealed to me.

From time to time — I will share with you in my blog some jottings from my “ancient” diaries.

Today — I will talk about the definition of the word “gentleman” — which I jotted down while attending a lecture during a leadership workshop — more than 26 years ago — in the year 1992…


Musings of a Veteran By Vikram Karve


(Though written for the masculine gender GENTLEMAN — this article applies to the feminine gender LADY as well)

Before we get to the definition — let us ponder a bit on the meaning of the word “gentleman”.

As I said earlier — though written for the masculine gender GENTLEMAN — this article applies to the feminine gender LADY as well.


If you look at the concept of “gentleman” in an holistic manner — a gentleman comprises two aspects:


Form refers to the external “image management” or “personality development” aspects — visible behaviour and outward appearance — traits like poise, grooming, manners, etiquette, dress, accent, diction, speech, smartness, courteousness, elegance, style, refinement, sophistication and polished behaviour.

In the Navy — or in the Army, Air Force, Military and Civil Services — an Officer is trained in these aspects which are called OLQ or “Officer Like Qualities” when he joins service at various Training Academies.

In the civilian world — there are Finishing Schools, Image Management Trainers and Personality Development Coaches — who help inculcate in people the “form” attributes of a Gentleman/Lady.


FORM alone does not make a GENTLEMAN.

A true GENTLEMAN/LADY must have both FORM and SUBSTANCE.

FORM is important — but it is the SUBSTANCE — which establishes the true worth of a man/woman.

A man/woman possessing ONLY FORM — but NO SUBSTANCE — such a person is a phoney Gentleman/Lady

Don’t you see many such fake “charlatans” masquerading as Gentlemen/Ladies…?

We saw what is meant by “FORM”.

Now — let us see what is meant by “SUBSTANCE”.


FORM consists of “external visible attributes”.

SUBSTANCE comprises “invisible internal virtues”.

Here is a definition which defines the “substance attibutes” of a gentleman.

A Gentleman is:

“An honest man…

– a man with a sense of duties and obligations of his position

– whatever it may be — a man who tells the truth

– a man who gives others their due

– a man considerate to the weak

– a man who has principles and stands by them

– a man who is not elated by good fortune and not too depressed by bad luck

– a man who is loyal

– a man who can be trusted…”

The real virtues of a gentleman are inherent in the above definition.

Whether in Civil Services or Defence Services — an Officer is considered a Gentleman.

But — tell me — in the context of the definition above — how many officers truly possess all the attributes enunciated in the definition above…?

Image Management, Personality Development and Social Standing can give you “FORM”

But — it is your “SUBSTANCE” — which will make you a complete and genuine Gentleman/Lady.

If you look around you in urban society — you will find so many persons who look like Gentlemen/Ladies (as they exhibit the requisite “form”).

But — when you look more closely — when you observe officers (even high ranking officers) — and — individuals way up on the social pecking order — you will discover two types:

  1. Persons who are the Genuine Men/Women of “Substance”


  1. Persons who are Masquerading as Gentlemen/Ladies


As one of our Navy Training Officers at the Naval Academy used to say:

“We can train you to be Officers — by inculcating FORM — or — “external visible attributes”


We can’t make you Gentlemen — that — you will have to do yourself.

To become a Gentleman — you will have to self-develop SUBSTANCE — “invisible internal virtues”…


You may be an “Officer” — but are you a “Gentleman”…?

“Image Management” and “Personality Development” will give you FORM.

Image Management and Personality Development can make you an Officer.

But — to be a Gentleman (or Lady) — in addition to external FORM — you must have “Internal Character Attributes” — to be — a “Man/Woman of SUBSTANCE…”

Dear Reader: Do you agree…?


Copyright © Vikram Karve 1. If you share this post, please give due credit to the author Vikram Karve 2. Please DO NOT PLAGIARIZE. Please DO NOT Cut/Copy/Paste this post

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.


  1. This blog post is a spoof, satire, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
  2. All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright Notice:

No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.

Copyright © Vikram Karve (All Rights Reserved)

Link to my original post in my Blog Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve:

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

This is a revised and abridged version of my lecture/article written by me more than 26 years ago in the year 1992 and posted by me online earlier a number of times including at urls: and and and and and and etc

Originally published at on August 26, 2018.



A creative person with a zest for life, alumnus IIT Delhi, Lawrence School Lovedale, Vikram Karve is a retired Navy Officer turned full time Writer and Blogger

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Vikram Karve

A creative person with a zest for life, alumnus IIT Delhi, Lawrence School Lovedale, Vikram Karve is a retired Navy Officer turned full time Writer and Blogger