The service motive

The service motive

After 60 years,what distinguishes the first batch of IPS officers from those of today are the values they cherished

After 60 years,what distinguishes the first batch of IPS officers from those of today are the values they cherished

Forty IPS probationers from different parts of India reported to the National Police Academy in Mount Abu on October 5,1953. It has been 60 years — and it is time to retrospect on what the service meant to us then and what we,octogenarians now,feel about it today.

Intelligence quotients of the new entrants are higher today. Attribute this to better nutrition and healthcare. The sheer knowledge possessed by today’s probationers is probably ten times what we could boast of. Attribute this to advanced technology,TV,computer and the internet. Remember that we were the cream of our universities. But since the scope for corporate jobs was limited,government service in senior positions beckoned.

In our batch of 40,the topper was Govind Rajan of Tamil Nadu. One of his three sons is today the governor of the Reserve Bank. Another has been chosen by Cyrus Mistry,chairman of Tata Sons,for his inner circle of three advisors.


Rajan would have topped the IAS merit list but he competed for the civil services at the age of 20 — considered old enough for the police but not for the IAS. Today’s aspirants are allowed to reappear and improve their rankings so as to slip into the IAS,but that privilege was denied to those like us who competed in the early 1950s. Many of today’s IAS officers have spent a year or more in the police before graduating to the senior service.

There were three other super-intelligent officers in our batch. All three,along with Rajan,were seconded to the intelligence agencies. Anand Kumar Verma became the director of RAW,and Hari Ananda Barari of the Intelligence Bureau. He later became governor of Haryana. Rajan himself ended up as chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee,a position that has been subsumed into the office of the NSA. Three of our batchmates resigned prematurely and joined private enterprises. Six died while in service. Of the rest,most rose to command their state forces or head Central police organisations.

What really differentiated us from today’s entrants into the service were the values we cherished. There was much greater accent on justice and integrity. Nobody I knew of joined the service to enrich himself,and if later somebody was tempted to do so,he or she was a rare exception. It is different now. And since the general atmosphere has altered so drastically,officers who are just and honest in their dealings are so conspicuous that only on that account are they acknowledged and respected.

The menace of corruption has affected all government services across the land. Even highly respected organisations like the judiciary,the defence services and the media have been touched. The root cause is political corruption. When we entered service,politicians were immensely more honest. They were committed to the service of the people. That commitment rubbed off on the higher echelons of the bureaucracy. It is tragic that the quest for power has forced politicians into corruption of such magnitude that the domino effect has cascaded on all branches of government service and every other sphere of life. Even the young now want to get rich quickly and without effort!

Another big difference noticed after 60 years is that the police force is now run by politicians instead of professionals. To a large extent,the police leadership is itself responsible. Incompetent or corrupt officers find it more convenient to surrender their authority in order to occupy important chairs.

Maharashtra Home Minister R.R. Patil professes to be upset because retired IPS officers have been criticising his style of functioning. Actually,what amazes us is that the police force is being administered by him,though he is not trained to do so. The transfers and postings are done by the minister and he directly communicates with inspectors in charge of police stations. We are unable to understand how police chiefs can exercise any authority over their juniors if the minister deals directly with them. This certainly did not happen in our time. Junior officers knew that they had to account to us for their actions and conduct and generally behaved themselves.

And so,when the 1953 batch of the IPS,now reduced to 20 or so,meets to renew old memories,they should ruminate on the present state of the service and consider whether they can influence the politicians to restore to the IPS the professional leadership the police needs in order to dispense justice to citizens.

Many of today’s governors are former IPS officers and one,M.K. Narayanan,of the batch of 1955,became the National Security Advisor before he was shifted to the Raj Bhavan in Kolkata. Gubernatorial jobs after retirement should never be the end. It is more important for serving officers to remember that they belong to a service and that service to the people,giving them justice and reducing their woes,is far more important than moving into Raj Bhavans.

Julio Ribeiro

The writer,a retired IPS officer,was Mumbai police commissioner,DGP Gujarat and DGP Punjab,and is a former Indian ambassador to Romania