Savitribai Hirve, a 47-year-old Mumbai Police constable, celebrated her birthday for the first time ever on Wednesday.
Her face was a mix of joy and mild embarrassment as she went about distributing sweets to her colleagues at Kala Chowkie police station.
“Even my husband doesn’t know it’s my birthday today. I will go home now and surprise him,” Hirve said, her face beaming. She had just completed a night shift and the station celebrated her birthday during morning roll call.
“This is my 20th year in service, and it felt nice that my colleagues took some time off to bring in my birthday, and I’d brought chocolates for them,” she said with the excitement of a child. The station staff gave her flowers and cheered for her.
Senior Police Inspector Sunil Jain, who came up with the idea of celebrating birthdays of his staff, said the idea was to lift up spirits.
“Given the kind of job we have, we are prone to high levels of stress – when we take time out to do something like this, it goes a long way not just in making the staff happy, it also helps me get the most out of them,” he said.
Jain, who has written a book, Human Resource and Stress in Police, on ways to deal with stress in the force, said he also ensures the birthday candidate gets to go home a little early that day. “We let them leave two hours before duty ends so they can celebrate the occasion with their family,” he said.
And he thinks the effort is paying off. “I’ve been here only about four months, but I’ve already seen a considerable change in the mood of my staff. Not only do they not mind putting in some extra time when it’s needed, they have also become more responsive to members of the public,” Jain said.