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How I became a Police Officer

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By Anil Raturi

I sat in the 1986-87 All India Civil Services Competitive Examination held by the UPSC and joined the IPS in 1987.

How and why I joined the Police is an interesting story!

With every passing year the competition for Civil Services in India is becoming more intense. In 2023-24, about one and a half million young Indian men and women sat for the Civil Services Competitive Examination. From this large number of competitors, only about 600-800 are finally selected to fill the vacancies in the higher Civil Services of the country. The examination is arguably one of the most onerous in the world!

It is said that it is possible that an academically good student may, due to bad luck, fail, but it is almost impossible for an idiot to pass the examination!

The trial and tribulations of prospective aspirants were recently effectively visualised by the celebrated Hindi film, “12th Fail”!

To a large extent, the rigorous year-long selection process tests the academic merit of the candidates, while to some extent, it also examines the personality traits of the prospective civil servants.

The successful candidates recommended for the IAS, IPS, IFS and other select Central Services are put through a common 15-week Foundation Course (FC) at the LBS National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie.

The academic merit of the selected is an established fact. Amongst them, it is not rare to find a substantial number of candidates coming from top foreign universities, IIMs, IITs, AIIMS, other prestigious Schools of Medicine, Engineering, Management, Commerce and Liberal Arts!

In the training, therefore, the emphasis is on familiarising the trainees with the professional requirements of the job and fostering an esprit de corps amongst the probationers rather than on academic learning.

During the FC, lifelong bonds of friendship and camaraderie are forged amongst the trainees belonging to various services. In the decades to come, this camaraderie helps in facilitating seamless cooperation amongst the higher public services of the country.

I still fondly remember the days spent at LBSNAA, Mussoorie, during the FC in 1987.

I was fortunate to make lifelong friends during the FC with whom I am still in touch!

Post FC, the trainees of various services embark upon the service specific professional training at their own Academies.

Being in the IPS, after the FC, I reported to SVP National Police Academy, Hyderabad, for professional training.

For many trainees who were of a scholarly bent and, more particularly, for those who had not played sports in the past, the physically demanding outdoor training was challenging.

During my student days, I had been a sportsman and could play most of the games reasonably well.

With this fortunate background and also being used to trekking long distances in the Himalayas, the training at NPA was a joyful experience for me. The training became even more blessed for me when I met a fellow trainee who later became my wife!

Since my childhood, I have had a great fascination for the uniformed services. The study of English Literature at the University of Delhi inculcated a sense of a romantic idealism within me.

During my student days, by chance, I happened to see Govind Nihalani’s iconic film “Ardh Satya” at the Chanakya Cinema in Delhi.

I joined Delhi University in 1979. It was the time of “inspector-quota raj”. The system of the country was largely inefficient and corrupt. Poverty was an endemic reality of the times. The youth were angry and frustrated with the system. No wonder Amitabh Bachchan, the “angry young man” and his films were a rage amongst the young!

In the film “Ardh Satya”, the central theme is very beautifully evoked through a Hindi poem written by Dilip Chitre. The protagonist, an idealist and a Police officer, Anant Velankar (played superbly by Om Puri) reads the poem in one of the most artistic scenes of Indian Cinema.

The poem goes as follows:

“चक्रव्यूह में घुसने से पहले,

कौन था मैं और कैसा था,

यह मुझे याद ही न रहेगा।

 

चक्रव्यूह में घुसने के बाद,

मेरे और चक्रव्यूह के बीच,

सिर्फ एक जानलेवा निकता थी,

इसका मुझे पता ही नहीं चलेगा।

 

चक्रव्यूह से निकलने के बाद,

मैं मुक्त हो जाऊं भले ही,

फिर भी चक्रव्यूह की रचना में

फर्क ही न पड़ेगा।

 

मारूं या मरूं,

मारा जाऊं या जान से मार दूँ ।

इसका फैसला कभी ना हो पाएगा.

 

सोया हुआ आदमी जब

नींद से उठकर चलना शुरू करता है,

तब सपनों का संसार,

उसे दोबारा दिख ही न पाएगा।

 

उस रोशनी में जो निर्णय की रोशनी है

सब कुछ समान होगा क्या?

 

एक पलड़े में नपुंसकता,

और दूसरे पलड़े में पौरुष,

और ठीक तराजू के कांटे की नोक पर

अर्ध सत्य!!!”

 

The poem insinuates how the solicitation of circumstances in a corrupt system subtly and unknowingly transforms an idealist into a cynically tragic cog!

Through the film, the Kafkaesque system seems to be throwing the gauntlet at the feet of the idealists! Provoking them to venture into the realm of crusaders who are drunk with intoxicants of change and reform!

I had done well in the competition. As per the merit list, I could have joined the Indian Foreign Service. However, I had an inherent fascination for the uniform. Secondly, Literature made me an idealist. After viewing

“Ardh Satya,” my dice was cast!

The film fuelled my already brimming idealism! The choice was clear to me. The rarefied echelons of the diplomatic corps were not for me. My youthful heart drunk with idealism wanted to dive into the grassroots of India!

Deep into the sweltering mire and grime of the system!

Amongst all the functionaries empowered by the law of the land, the Officer Incharge of an Indian Police Station is the most formidable. The Code of Criminal Procedure gives the same power to supervising officers of the Police. To my youthful and innocent spirit, this was the vital tool! The good power to bring in change and reform for the betterment of humankind!

Instilled with this romantic idealism, I joined the Indian Police Service!

(Anil Raturi is a former IPS officer, who retired as Director General of Police, Uttarakhand)