Book review: In and out of step, down memory lane
Former Punjab director general of police GS Aujla’s book, In And Out Of Step, is a sometimes humorous, sometimes reflective, but always a witty collection of anecdotes – personal and professional – on vignettes of Punjab’s history and heritage.
The first part of the book provides a window into Aujla’s nearly four-decade career, starting from his training at Mussoorie and Mt Abu to his postings in Bihar, Jharkhand and Punjab and as head of the Punjab Police Academy.
Anecdotes such as, The Donkey at the Border, The Wailing Bridegroom, the illicit distillers’ anthem, Watan Ki Aabru, and The Rickety Stage’ are a delight to read. On whether any incident shines brighter than the rest, Aujla says, “The arrest of politician Raj Narain for attempted suicide after he launched a hunger strike, the Victorian Buggy and the deaf and blind British home secretary’s visit to Phillaur stand out.”
His unconventional choice of subjects includes pisspots and commodes. “These are subjects nobody has written about, but I found them mentionable as they represent the ancient regime of the training period and the need to modernise to keep in step with the trends in crime and criminality.”
The second part of the book deals with history and politics, touching upon the Ludhiana and Phillaur forts, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Maharaja Duleep Singh, the rivers of Punjab, and the Jallianwala Bagh massacre among others.
Aujla takes readers on a ride around the world in the third part of the book. Of all the wondrous places he has visited, he finds England the most enchanting. “Monarchy and parliamentary democracy survive simultaneously in England. Besides, today it is one of the most multicultural nations in the world,” he says.
Depoliticise police service
Ask him if there is any change, he wants to see in the Indian Police Service and he says, “The police should be completely depoliticised if it wants to win the confidence of the people. Politicalisation in recruitment, selection and postings needs to be arrested.”
Though at times being both in and out of step landed him in hot water, Aujla says he regrets nothing as he was following his “own volition, professional compulsions and conscience”.