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Maintenance of law and order, checks on drug traffickers, countering terrorism… Indian Police Service officers wield enormous power and face tough challenges, says Pranab Ghosh

education Updated: Mar 18, 2010 09:35 IST
Pranab Ghosh
Pranab Ghosh
Hindustan Times

Meenu Chaudhary, 35, daughter of a retired chief engineer from the Military Engineering Service, joined the Indian Police Service (IPS) in the year 2000. She is an Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram and Union Territories (AGMUT) cadre officer. A BA (Honours) in sociology and an MBA, Chaudhary had always wanted to be a civil servant. “My father wanted me to join the civil services and I grew up with this thought in mind,” she says. Chaudhary made it a point not to appear for any placement interviews after completing her MBA in 1998 and before writing the Civil Service exam in 1999. Her optional paper in the preliminary exam was sociology; and the two papers she chose for the mains were public administration and sociology.

“The IPS is mainly responsible for the internal security of the country, maintenance of law and order, control and detection of crime and ensuring peace by enforcing the law of the land,” says Chaudhary, now an additional deputy commissioner of police (Addl DCP), central district. Unlike other services, a lot of power is vested with an IPS officer, “like ensuring instant justice for an aggrieved person,” says Chaudhry. “Criminal justice will take its own course but if a distressed person comes to us we can provide immediate relief to him or her, thus making a difference to society,” she adds. And it is this zeal to serve the society that finally made her choose the IPS.

“The scope of work of an IPS officer is unlimited,” says Dr PM Nair, inspector general of police (operations), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). “In the domain of public service, the sky is the limit,” he points out.

Says Parmaditya, additional DCP, south west, duties of IPS officers could include “traffic management; arranging security for VIPs; border policing; railway policing; tackling corruption in public life; counter-terrorism, checking smuggling, drug trafficking, and economic offences and helping in disaster management. They could be leading and commanding Indian intelligence agencies such as the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), Intelligence Bureau (IB), Central

Bureau of Investigation (CBI), etc, or the paramilitary forces of India, like the Border Security Force (BSF), CRPF, Indo-Tibetan Border police (ITBP), etc.

They can also serve as heads of departments under various Central and state government ministries and public sector undertakings and interact and co-ordinate with members of other all-India services and Central Civil services or the Indian Armed Forces.”

The work is both challenging and strenuous. “At times one has to work continuously for months without any break — even on national holidays and festivals,” says Sagarpreet Hooda, DCP, north. “ But that’s life for IPS officers and in the process he/she learns to enjoy his/her work,” he adds.

In recent times, “terrorist threats have become one of the major challenges for an IPS officer,” says Sharad Agarawal, DCP, west. Add to this the “rising white collar and cyber crime” and “high expectations of the public”, and you will find that the plate of an IPS officer is always full, he adds.

But officers are expected to “lead by example and their conduct must be above board,” says Hooda.

What's it about?
The Indian Police Service (IPS) is part of the Indian Civil Services that consist of 27 services organised into two main sections — the All India Services and the Central Services. IPS is an all-India Service, entry to which is through one of the most difficult examinations conducted by the UPSC. Officers of all India services, on appointment by the Indian government, are allotted to different state governments. The IPS officers are responsible for the safety and security of the public. They mainly take care of the law and order, crime prevention and detection, traffic control and accident prevention and management, etc

Clock Work
A DCP’s work schedule could be similar to the following:
8 to 9 am: Briefing by junior officers and conveying the same to senior officers
10.30 am to 1 pm: Listening to the problems/grievances of complainants visiting the DCP’s office, directing the concerned officers for appropriate action
2 to 2.30 pm: Quick lunch
4 to 6 pm: Visit police stations/police posts
6 to 7 pm: Check security arrangements at important installations
7 to 9 pm: Disposal of correspondence/files etc
Work schedule changes in case of emergencies/special events

The Payoff
Entry level: Around Rs 40,000 per month
Middle level: Around Rs 60,000 per month
Senior level: Around Rs 80,000 per month
One is also entitled to special perks depending where he or she is posted. This is, however, a variable amount specific to some locations only

One has to be hard working, have strong will power and determination
. Must have clarity of thought and an ability to analyse a situation to take a just decision
. Must be sensitive to the aspirations of people
. Must have good listening and communication skills
. Thorough grounding in the law of the land
. Despite the demands of the job one has to focus on physical fitness and stay mentally alert

How do i get there?
For becoming an IPS officer one has to appear in the Civil Service Examination. Anyone who is an Indian citizen and a graduate in any discipline can appear for the exam, a three-stage competitive selection process consisting of a preliminary exam, a main exam, and an interview, conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). The preliminary examination has general studies and one optional subject. Candidates clearing this can appear for the mains, which includes two optional subjects, and papers in general studies, essay, compulsory language and English language. Those qualifying the mains have to appear for an interview. If a candidate qualifies at this stage, he or she is selected for the Civil Services and allocated the service — namely IAS, IPS, etc — on the basis of merit

Institutes & urls
. Vajiram & Ravi Institute for Civil Services Examination
79, Old Rajinder Nagar Market, New Delhi;
. Cosmos IAS Academy B-3 Basement A 37-38-39
Ansal Building Mukherjee Nagar, New Delhi;
. Study Circle Virat Bhawan (MTNL Bldg.),
Dr.Mukherjee Nagar, near Batra Cinema, Delhi
. Rau’s IAS Study Circle
18 Barakhamba Road, CP, New Delhi 110001
. Brilliant Tutorials Pvt. Ltd
Have centres all over India

Pros & Cons
Immense satisfaction derived from the fact that you are serving the public and making a difference to society
. Not a routine job, has enough challenges and can be glamorous
. Good remuneration, especially after the implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations and time-bound growth prospects
. Transfers can play havoc with family life
. It’s a 24 x 7 job
. Dealing with criminal cases can be risky

corruption is the biggest challenge

A senior official talks about the strengths and weaknesses of the service

Brilliant students once dreamt of joining the IPS. Has there been any shift in that perception?
I have not done a study on the perception of brilliant students studying in Indian universities. However, if you analyse the profiles of the people joining the IPS in the National Police Academy, Hyderabad, you will see those from the cream of the society coming in. There are people with high rankings in the civil services exam who are opting for IPS instead of going for IAS or IFS. It is the spirit of national integrity, national security, and public safety that is attracting them.

The crime graph is heading north, especially in the metro cities. How has the role of an IPS officer changed over time?
The crime graph has to head north. If the population increases the crime rate also increases. The trends of crime however,
change. Today the traditional crime of burglary and theft are not taking place in the Naxal-affected districts. There the crimes have their origin in militant activities — explosions, abductions etc. This new trend will also change with growth of population, growth of commercial activities, industrialisation, etc. A stage will come where there would be more of cyber crimes and more crimes against human dignity. So, the IPS officers in the field have to keep track of the changes.

How is an IPS officer geared to tackle terrorist activities?
If the IPS officer is the SP of the district or the DCP of the place, he is fully accountable and responsible. Once he assumes responsibility there are certain demands on him — an SP might not get to sleep for days, or have to go without a meal or two. He may be bombarded with questions by the media or politicians. I would not call it interference but interventions. Once such interventions come in, we should take it in the positive and right spirit. I have seen that we can create tremendous impact in more ways than one by changing and orienting ourselves to the needs of the hour. As for special training to counter terrorist activities, the National Police Academy, Hyderabad and several training institutions in the country and abroad where officers are sent, are conducting professional courses to orient the officers.

What are the challenges that the IPS faces today?
I think corruption is a major challenge from the national perspective, which we need to address. And the solution lies in taking prompt and strict action against the delinquent and corrupt people. The second challenge is from the officer’s point of view. An officer has to orient himself to modern policing (at times traditional methods might not work). And while doing so the officer should not solely depend on official training but take initiatives to improve himself.

Dr PM Nair, inspector general of police (operations), Central Reserve Police Force Interviewed by Pranab Ghosh

First Published: Dec 02, 2010 09:53 IST