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Association of Retired Senior IPS Officers (ARSIPSO)

This is with reference to my letter No. ARSIPSO/GS-BSD-4/2023 dated. 10/08/2023 on the 4th B.S. Das Memorial Lecture, which had to be rescheduled for unavoidable reasons.

The 4th B.S.Das Memorial Lecture to be delivered by Shri Anil Kumar Sinha, IAS (Retd.), on the subject Disaster Management: Creating Safer Communities, has now been rescheduled for October 14, 2023 as per the following:

Conference Room No. 2, India International Centre, Max Mueller Marg, New Delhi, October 14, 2023 (Saturday)



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AN IDEAL TRAINER - Sankar Sen, IPS

 
 

Most of the police training institutions all over the country today are in a poor state of health. Besides inadequacies of infrastructural facilities, they have become dumping grounds of inefficient and often discredited officers and men who command little respect from the trainees. Many of them instead of motivating the trainees, spread the message of frustration and cynicism. However, there are some refreshing exceptions some titans among the minnows. One such was E.L. Stracey, who was Deputy Commandant of the Central Police Training College, (CPTC) Mount Abu, where we had undergone our police training after joining the Indian Police Service.

CPTC was a make-shift institution hurriedly set up after independence. Training facilities were inadequate, if not poor. In the training curriculum there was overemphasis on drill, parade, horse riding and physical exercises. To many probationers, CPTC was indeed an acronym for Constant Physical Torture College. Many of the trainers in both indoor and outdoor sections were inadequately equipped to train IPS officers and many suffered from various limitations and complexes.

But one person, who stood tall and commanded respect and awe, was the then Deputy Commandant E.L. Stracey, an IP officer from Tamil Nadu cadre. Smart, handsome and ramrod- straight, Stracey was an inspiring model; one of those ideal trainers, who took joy in imparting training to the budding leaders of the Indian Police Service. He took this training assignment with almost a missionary zeal and imparted to it some rare grace and flavour.

Stracey was a stickler for correct etiquettes and manners and took great pains in teaching the raw probationers how to hold correctly forks and knives at the dinner table, how to greet a lady and how to salute smartly in uniform. We used to call E.L. Stracey as Etiquette Loving Stracey. He could be stiff and blunt at times but always sought to inculcate among the probationers, officer-like qualities. He had an eagle eye and was quick to detect the lapses of the probationers at the parade ground and malapropisms in the class room. He would teach us how to salute properly and how to conduct ourselves befittingly on and off the parade ground. Colour of the socks not matching the shoes and trousers, hastily shaven cheeks and loose tie knots will not escape his eyes. We learned from him many a social grace and nicety. Though punctilious, he was never a heartless martinet. Behind the apparently tough exterior there was warmth and concern for the well-being of the trainees. Once he noticed that one of the probationers was lowering his head too much while taking soup, he advised him not to do so and humorously added that horses do like that.

He used to take classes on police administration. He was not very sound on rules and procedures of police manuals or sections of the Indian Penal Code but clear on fundamental ethical issues concerning policing. He always emphasized that short-cut extra-legal methods are impermissible and counterproductive and sully the image of the police hampering good and efficient policing. After nearly four decades, when I had the privilege to join as the Director of the National Police Academy, Hyderabad Stracey was my inspiring role model.

At the entrance of the National Police Academys office building on the black piece of marble the following lines are inscribed:

Michelangelo was once asked, How do you produce statues that are so full of life? Michelangelo said, It is just a matter of extracting them. The rough marble already contains the statue. There is already a fine officer in you. Help us to chisel it Whenever, my eyes fall on those lines inscribed on the marble I think of Stracey. We heard from Stracey the vicissitudes of his service career and the sea of troubles he faced for not being a pliant officer. But ultimately, he reached the summit of police profession as the Director General of Police, Tamilnadu. He has narrated in his book, Odd Man Out in Indian Police, the high and low watermarks in his service career, the difficulties he encountered for crossing swords with the politicians. He narrates all this with no sense of rancour.

So far work is concerned he would not spare anyone but would not pursue. Streaks of sadism and vindictiveness, which we have witnessed in many senior officers were conspicuously absent in him. He would tick off not only the probationers but also the instructional staff and even the senior officers coming for training in advance courses. He pulled up a senior officer (who, later on became a Member of Parliament) for coming late as a player in the cricket field and for setting up a bad example before the junior officers and chastising senior outdoor trainers for using swear words in the parade ground. However, he also made it clear that the IPS probationers would have to follow the discipline of the parade ground and unquestioningly obey the directions of the field trainers. Once admonishing some errant probationers he said that sometimes we have to be cruel in order to be kind. Firmness and fairness should go side by side.

Our training in Mount Abu also included a program of Bharat Darshan to enable us to catch fleeting glimpses of the different parts of the country and understand its bewildering diversities and the underlying thread of unity. Our Bharat Darshan program included a visit to Delhi and calling on the Home Minister Pandit Govinda Bhallav Pant. A stalwart of the freedom struggle, Pant was a venerable and powerful leader, enjoying a position only second to Nehru in the Central government. During the interaction session, Pantji with his shaking hands (an after-effect of the blows received in the lathi-charge by the police during the British rule) expounded to us the new role of police in independent India. In the course of the discussion, Stracey raised before him the question that political masters want quick results against crime and criminals and thus indirectly pressure the police to adopt short-cut and quick-fix methods. Pantji however, misunderstood the burden of this valid poser. He upbraided Stracey and called him an officer of the old school. The meeting ended in a sour note. We came out sadder but not wiser.

Nearly twenty years later, when I was serving as a DIG Western Range at Rourkela, I received a letter from MIS Iyer, the then Dy. Director of the National Police Academy mentioning that Straceys sword would be kept in the Central IPS Mess. He asked me to suggest some appropriate lines to be included in the brass below the sword. I wrote to Iyer that Stracey has become a living legend and will occupy a place of honour in the annals of the Indian Police Service. I suggested the following lines of Shakespeare to be inscribed on the brass bellow the sword Be just and fear not. Let all the ends then aimst at be thy countrys, thy Gods and truths I sent a copy of the letter to Stracey, who was then Director General of Police, Tamilnadu. Stracey wrote back that the compliments you pay are very touching; all the more because they are sincere. I only hope I deserve them. I shall always recollect Stracey as the role model of a trainer. His handsome appearance, dignified bearing, graceful movements, eye for details, total commitment for training and unremitting endeavour to improve an institution set him apart as an ideal head of a training college. Today, many of the police training institutions are in a bad shape and some of them are just crumbling. We need outstanding committed officers like Stracey to head these institutions and impart to their dry bones, the Promethean spark of life. Unfortunately, many of these institutions are headed by people, who are singularly unfit for the job and only mark their time and think of shifting to greener and more lucrative pastures.



 
The views and facts stated above are entirely the responsibility of the author and do not reflect the views of this Association in any manner.
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