IPS officer Esha Pandey salutes lady IPS officers who paved the way for others
From 1972- when Ms Kiran Bedi became the first woman IPS officer- to date, we have several unsung heroines in the police department, who have been waging silent wars and getting things done. Yet, even today, women form only 7.28 percent of the police force, writes IPS officer Esha Pandey.delhi Updated: Mar 27, 2018 12:43 IST
The heart bursting with pride, and a lone star shining on the shoulder, when an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer joins the national training institute for police officers - Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy (SVP NPA), in Hyderabad - there is no limiting the enthusiasm one has on the prospects of brining about a positive change in society. And the indoor and outdoor classes that one attends introducing one to the police sub-culture swiftly yet steadily, only adds to the confidence of the trainee officers. It is common to hear references and stories of the erstwhile training academy (NPA which was earlier in Mount Abu, Rajasthan) by seniors in the service who came for various lectures. Those references made brimmed of nostalgia and pride.
They also said that the younger generation has it easier than them. And it wasn’t just about the physical training, I learnt gradually. Such were the stories of the training days at Abu, that one wanted to belong to the same golden era. It also reminded me of the dramatized version of the same training academy in the TV series Udaan - which was the story of IPS Kanchan Chaudhary of the 1973 batch, who was second woman IPS - which I saw growing up in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. Udaan had inspired a whole generation of young girls, including yours truly, to take up the services.
Cut to 2018, when I recently got a chance to attend a five-day course at the academy of police lore - Mt Abu Academy. I was naturally ecstatic. The place was the National Police Academy till 1975, known as the Central Police Training College, and is now the Internal Security Academy (ISA). When I entered the compound, it was with a lot of expectations and absolute dreamy eyes.
I looked around with awe at the walls, ground and air, for I was physically at this place which contained legendary stories and has produced legends. I smiled with reverence at the wall in the obstacle course which Kalyani, the IPS officer in Udaan, tries so hard to conquer. I was sure that I would find history seeped into the buildings and environs, and I was not disappointed.
Even before it became the Central Police Training College, it was known as the Abu Lawrence School. Constructed in the year 1849, the Lawrence School was a co-educational institution providing accommodation to girls and boys of pure European parentage. After the Independence, when need for a premier training academy for IPS officers arose, the school compound was chosen for the purpose. Thus, the Central Police Training College was established in the same premises of the Abu Lawrence School. The Central Police Training College continued to train the IPS officers till it was shifted to Hyderabad as the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy in the year 1975. Now, it functions as the ISA and has been preserved beautifully by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).
As I went around the campus, it was motivational to see that there were several tributes to the previous office bearers of the academy. However, I was surprised to find that the current ISA, CRPF academy has had only one lady IPS officer as IG training -- the illustrious Ms Manjari Jaruhar of the 1976 batch. She was also the first woman IPS officer from Bihar.
That got me thinking about the front runners in the police services who paved the way for us, other lady IPS officers. The torchbearers who have fought patriarchy at home and in offices, as well as on the field, to let the younger generation, like us, command equal treatment. Take for example, the inspiring Ms Kanchan Chaudhary, who became the first DGP of a state; or Ms Neelamani Raju, who became the first woman DGP of Karnataka in 2017. Even SVPNPA, got its first woman director in the year 2014, when Ms Aruna Bahuguna (a 1979 batch IPS officer) became the 28th director of the academy. Currently, Ms Dyuti Rani Doley Barman (a 1986 batch IPS officer) holds the charge of the director NPA.
The ‘firsts’ are definitely extraordinary. Not only because they represent recognition of all the hard work and sacrifices, but also because they represent hope for a better future. These ‘firsts’ need to be celebrated because they inspired generations of young girls in small towns in India to dream big, to reach for the stars. On being in the campus which produced some stellar lady IPS officers, I felt that it was time to celebrate all such ‘firsts’, and also to celebrate those who followed, who put their hearts and souls in their duties and who survive and are winners in their own might. Cheers to us all!
From 1972- when Ms Kiran Bedi became the first woman IPS officer- to date, we have several unsung heroines in the police department, who have been waging silent wars and getting things done. Yet, even today, women form only 7.28 percent of the police force. The number falls immensely short of the mandated 33 percent. To prepare more women to take up the police job, we would need to build capacities and provide the right skill set. It’s not sufficient to provide jobs and opportunities to empower women, real empowerment will come when our social fabric becomes supportive of such women who want to join the force. Their families need to encourage and support such woman so that they are able to tab their potential.
IPS Esha Pandey is a 2010 batch officer, and is currently serving as the Deputy Commissioner of Police in Delhi.
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