Dhrubajyoti De, the additional superintendent of police at Tamluk in West Bengal’s East Midnapore district, spent much of the first fortnight of 2010 on the banks of the Rupnarayan river. He was helping supervise rescue operations and, subsequently, efforts to retrieve the bodies of the victims of a boat capsize near the town of Kolaghat on 3 January, less than a week after he took charge.
Dhrubajyoti De, IPS officer
“For the first six days, I was virtually living on the riverbank with a 5- to 6-hour break at night,” says De, 32, an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of the 2006 batch.
For De, born to a family of teachers, the world of rescue operations, riot drills and other such policespeak must be a far cry from the campuses of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur, and Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Indore—of which he is an alumnus.
After IIT, De did a two-year stint with Cognizant Technology Solutions, a software services firm, as part of a team working for a US restaurant chain. But he admits he did not know which client he was working for. What was really galling, he adds, was the lack of decision-making power.
“No discretionary powers led me to believe that I must acquire some qualifications that can make me a decision maker, so I first started studying for CAT (the Common Admission Test for management institutes),” says De.
A leg injury during his second year at IIM Indore left him wheelchair-bound for the better part of the year and this helped him crystallize his thoughts. “I bought myself some basic civil services preparation material and started preparing for the UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) exams,” he says.
De ranked 128 in the examination in 2005 and made it to the IPS. He took the exam again the next year and improved his ranking to 105, but remained with the IPS. Today, he says his engineering and management degrees help him in his everyday job in the service.
Multi-tasker: Dhrubajyoti De says that being a civil servant allows him to work for the benefit of people. Indranil Bhoumik / Mint
“Engineering is basically about solving the problem at hand by taking an analytical approach and this is exactly what administration is all about,” says De. Similarly, his management skills are required every day to motivate a force that is hard-pressed and often low on resources.
“Whether it be motivation issues or a plan on sending manpower and vehicles for various programmes, management is required here every day,” he says.
De claims he has absolutely no regrets about not following the usual career progression after IIT and IIM to a high-paying, jet-setting, corporate job. For him, the civil services are the best vehicle to make decisions and do work that will benefit people.
“Unless otherwise privileged to have our own company and capital to take the risk with, most people of our age group are not in a position to do something that will change lives and yet have no profit motive,” he says, before citing examples from his 2007-09 tenure at Kalyani in Nadia district.
One of the changes he initiated was in the rules for political meetings. “Earlier, the planning wasn’t systematic. So, I sat down with my team and made detailed maps of the approach roads, entrances and exits and the number of people the venue would hold on the basis of a per capita space requirement, and worked out a template which is now with the District Intelligence Bureau for use in future,” he says.
The other change he took forward in Kalyani was the SAATHI (Security and Take Help Initiative) community service programme, started by his predecessor Arnab Ghosh. Young men are given security, rescue and first-aid training to patrol the town, help residents and assist in emergencies.
“With the state government enacting a new Private Security Agencies Act, they have been hived off into a completely self-contained security agency with their own rules and regulations and office-bearers,” says De.
He accepts that up to 80% of the work he does anywhere may be undone when he is transferred, but adds, “I am happy even if 20% of what I did stays after I am gone.”
In future, De wants to carve out a niche for himself in tackling economic crime. “Interestingly, P.N. Sarawade of Sebi’s (Securities and Exchange Board of India) economic crime cell was once SDPO (sub-divisional police officer) of Kalyani,” says De, his eyes lighting up.