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‘Don’t try to be ‘Singham’, is the first advice for recruits: IPS officer Himanshu Garg

Himanshu Garg, Superintendent of Police, Kurukshetra, Haryana and an alumnus of Apeejay School, Saket, says cops are not influenced by films like ‘Singham’ that portrayed supercops.



Himanshu, a 2013 Batch IPS Officer, has extensive experience of handling law and order. In an interview, he talks about the importance of perseverance to crack the civil services exam, the need for police-community relations, how to handle external pressure, preventing crime against women and much more.

Tell us about your journey from being a student to becoming an IPS officer?

After completing my schooling from Apeejay School Saket in 2004, I did my B.Tech in Civil Engineering from IIT Delhi. Soon after completing my engineering in 2009, I kickstarted the preparation for UPSC Civil Service exam. I have a lot of members in my family who are in government service. In fact, my father is an Indian Engineering Services officer and is presently serving in Delhi Metro as Director – Operations. So, I always had the inclination to join government service. My father used to motivate me to become a public servant to make a difference to the lives of people. Civil service offers a broad platform to directly impact the lives of people. We all know cracking UPSC is no walk in the park. In my first two attempts, I couldn’t pass the interview round. Eventually, in my third attempt in 2012, I cleared all the three stages of the exam.

After two failed attempts, it’s easy to lose heart. How did you stay committed to clear the exam?   

Naturally, you do lose heart, but apart from testing your academic knowledge UPSC is also a test of your perseverance. Many times we have to face multiple failures before we taste success, the same principle applies to UPSC preparation. One has to keep working hard and not let failures bog you down. The fact that I cleared Prelims and Mains twice gave me confidence to keep giving my best.

Why are people crazy about IAS & IPS? Is it due to the lure of power or does it actually give an opportunity to make a difference to the lives of people?  

What I realised while growing up is that a job in civil service, unlike the private sector, gives you big responsibility from day one. You get an opportunity to directly impact the lives of lakhs of people. When I was kid, I saw how the work done by my father made a difference in the lives of the common man. Of course, when you are in a government set up you get a lot of respect from society and that in itself is a motivating factor. Most of all, people prefer government employment for job security. Importantly, the government takes care of its employees no matter what the market situation is. Though, I have noticed that newly inducted IAS and IPS officers are motivated to change India for the better. They are not joining civil service to enjoy perks and privileges. Coming to the power part, in a democratic country like India, no one person is bestowed with absolute power. It’s not as if an IAS or IPS officer is a king of a district and can take unilateral decisions. The emphasis is on participative decision-making. We have to make decisions based on rules and regulations.

How do you handle external pressure?

In a democratic setup, there are various stakeholders, including political executive, judiciary and media. As I said, we follow a participative approach to decision-making. So, if a political leader gives inputs or feedback, there’s nothing wrong with it. After all, politicians are elected by the people. But there are situations where there is friction between the political executive and a government servant. In that case, the system protects you. It has enough checks and balances.  In the worst cases scenario you will get transferred.

How do IPS officers maintain their honesty and integrity in a set up known for political interference and rampant corruption?

Ethics and integrity is something which is in-built in a human being. It depends on your upbringing.  You find officers who are corrupt, but there are others who are dead honest. Based on my experience, if you are honest on your first day at work you will retire as an honest person. I don’t think the system can corrupt an honest individual as by the time you enter the service, your ethics are already structured. The system can’t shape you in one way or another.

There are few cops who try to act like ‘Singham’. Your message to them.

The first advice we give to recruits is ‘Please don’t try to be ‘Singham’. Real-life policemen can’t be like Bajirao Singham. See, the purpose of a movie is to entertain so cinematic liberties are taken with impunity. A cop has to abide by a plethora of laws. There’s a rigid protocol for each situation. There are a few cops who try to behave like Singham, but they ultimately face the wrath of law. We are only allowed to use force under limited circumstances.

What can be done to make our country safer for women?

Women’s safety is primarily a social issue. Though, it’s often projected in the media that women’s safety is the sole prerogative of police. The women approach the police when the crime has already been committed.  We, as a society, have to ask ourselves some tough questions: Do we consider women as equals? Are we a patriarchal society? The answers to these questions involve broader social issues. When we start respecting women, when there’s an increased representation of women in different fields, the crime against women will automatically come down.  However, when it comes to response to violence against women, the police has taken numerous steps to deliver timely justice to victims. For example, cases registered by women have to be investigated within 60 days. For the last couple of years we are also getting capital under the Nirbhaya Fund to improve the safety and security of women. I would like to mention that in Haryana there is a women’s police station in every district which is manned by women staff.

Dheeraj Sharma is Asst. Editor (Newsroom). He covers events, webinars, conducts interviews and brings you exciting news snippets. He has over 10 years' of experience in prominent media organizations. He takes pleasure in the small things in life and believes a healthy work-life balance is key to happiness. You can reach him at [email protected]