EXPENDABLE is an adjective, but when used as a plural it is definitely a noun. There are many meanings to the word expendable, but the meaning which is closest to the one i choose to write on is the fourth meaning given in the Online Dictionary, as follows:-
1. Subject to use or consumption: an expendable source.
2. Not worth salvaging or reusing: expendable rocket boosters.
3. Not strictly necessary; dispensable: an expendable budget item; expendable personnel.
4. Open to sacrifice in the interests of gaining an objective, especially a military one: expendable civilian targets.
Even though the fourth meaning is mentioned as relating to MILITARY, in our day to day lives we find many expendables.
In an ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE, the EXPENDABLES are easily identifiable at the bottom of the hierarchy. But like in any hierarchy, there is an unwritten code of conduct which is PROP THE TOP AND BALANCE YOURSELF WITH THE BOTTOM!
Once in a chat with a Colonel of the army, he said, ” During war times, it is not possible to clear the mines even if one knows that the place is heavily mined, so what is told is that the army is to march ahead unmindful of the mines and the damage caused to the personnel is ignored as the way created for the marching columns is of a greater advantage for the objective of the army.” The expendables, naturally were the low ranking personnel in the army.
Before one sympathizes with the sepoys let me narrate another apocryphal story. Once a family consisting of 4, two children and a couple were taken on a boating ride in a coracle at Hogenekkal, a waterfalls area in Tamil Nadu/ Karnataka border. As the coracle had reached the middle of the water pool, the girl put her hand out and was splashing the water and enjoying the splash and all of a sudden a crocodile caught her hand and vehemently started tugging and twirling at her hand. The father caught hold of the child and the coracle went on a spin, so the boatman told the father LEAVE THE CHILD AT LEAST WE ALL CAN BE SAVED! There the boatman thought the girl was EXPENDABLE, instead of using the oar to strike at the croc. The father grabbed the oar from the boatman and punched the eye of the croc and the croc let go of the child. The father did not think the the CHILD WAS EXPENDABLE. KUDOS to that brave father!
When i was a boy, i was introduced to a story where a brave Roman warrior called HORATIO, who along with his two other friends agreed to meet the enemy’s advancing army at one end of the bridge over the Tiber, while the Romans would fell the bridge to ensure that the enemies do not have access to the city of Rome. Horatio ENGAGED THE ENEMIES at one end of the bridge, while the Romans felled the bridge at the other end and ensured that the enemy was thwarted. The story ended with nothing being told about whether Horatio and his mates successfully swam across the Tiber in spate or not. My boyhood curiosity and anxiety remains till date. I know that Horatio must be long dead, but i was curious to know if the Romans had made some provision to salvage the tired heroes- but neither the story told the scheme put in place nor was there anything to indicate that Horatio and his mates survived. HORATIO and his mates were EXPENDABLES!
Like the above examples, in any political organization there are EXPENDABLES. How do we identify them? Simple, they come OUT ONLY when there is a CRISIS. Secondly, THEY ENGAGE the opponents. Thirdly, they SAY THINGS WHICH COULD SPOIL THEIR OWN CREDIBILITY BUT PROTECT THE INTERESTS OF THEIR MASTERS.
So, when i watch the NEWS CHANNELS, especially about political issues, I use these three criteria to ascertain if the debaters are EXPENDABLES. The best part in Indian Politics is that, the NON-EXPENDABLES DO NOT COME IN THE FRONT DURING CRISES. THEY APPEAR ONLY DURING PEACE TIMES, CREDIT TAKING AND CEREMONIAL OCCASIONS. The NON-EXPENDABLES STAY COCOONED FOR THE STORM TO PASS! Good luck to the NON-EXPENDABLES- FORTUNE’S FAVOURED CHILDREN!