In the late evening on 20th November 2019 the Director General of Police (DGP) of the State of Odisha has been removed from the post and posted as Officer on Special Duty in the Home Department. Subsequently a committee headed by the Chief Secretary has been constituted to conduct an enquiry into the willful delay, neglect and inaction on his part to dispose of requests concerning clearance for fire safety measures required in numerous buildings, edifices and structures. It has been widely reported that such removal of the DGP is an outcome of the impact of five T (Transparency, Technology, Timeliness, Team spirit and transformation) which is now the sheet anchor of the “Mo Sarkar” or My Government scheme of the Government which aims at ensuring people centric good and effective governance in a transparent and timely manner for the purpose of bringing out transformation. Such a historic decision to change the sitting DGP of Police and order enquiry against him comes close on the heels of recent decision of the Odisha Government to compulsorily retire several Government servants, stop pensions of a few of them and even remove some of them from Government service on account of their conviction by the vigilance court on charges of corruption. The exemplary decision of the Government of Odisha in dealing with the DGP for his acts of commission and commission boldly affirms the point that there is no scope for indifference to duty, inefficiency, maladministration, opaqueness and corruption in any hierarchy of the Government structure. It has sent a right and positive signal to all those committed to uphold probity, honesty and integrity in administration and render service in a transparent manner.
Satyajit Mohanty as Interim DGP is the right choice
The decision of the Government of Odisha to appoint senior officer of the Indian Police Service, Shri Satyajit Mohanty, as interim DGP till Shri Abhya Kumar takes over as the full-fledged DGP of the State underscores the point that the track record of service based on clean image, professional competence and effectiveness in service delivery deserves recognition and reward.
I recall Satyajit Mohanty who while heading the Biju Patnaik State Police Academy several years back called me and asked if I had any plan to visit Odisha from Delhi. When I told him that I would visit my in laws place in Bhabanipatna to attend a wedding he requested me to visit the Police Academy and deliver a special lecture on “Mahatma Gandhi and Ethical Policing” to the newly recruited sub inspectors who were to be inducted to the police force in a few months time. I was reluctant as it involved travel involving 500 hundred kilometers from Bhabanipatna to Bhubaneswar. But he insisted and persuasively told me that while in general they teach new recruits about Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel none knew anything about Gandhiji’s worldview specifically on issues concerning police force and its role and functions in a democratic set up. When I continued to express my reluctance he pleaded with all earnestness that if the young recruits would hear some invaluable specific ideas of Mahatma Gandhi on police then some of those ideas would trickle into their minds and thought process and some time in their service career those ideas would actuate and guide them to serve people more meaningfully. I was stunned to know that a senior Indian Police Service officer was so keen to inculcate the thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi on police in the minds of trainee sub inspectors. His persistence and persuasion was compelling.
I went to the Biju Patnaik Police Academy and delivered the lecture outlining the details of Gandhi’s vision on police force and recalling his eloquent words of 1916 that police personnel should consider themselves as servants of people and not their masters and they should keep themselves away from bribery and corruption and stand by poor. My interactions with Shri Mohanty were very rewarding and during that time he said that if a police officer deeply thought and felt that he or she is truly the servant of the people most of the problems afflicting the service delivery by police forces would be solved. I am recalling those uplifting words of Shri Mohanty at the time of his appointment as the interim DGP and commencement and operationalization of the historic Mo Sarkar scheme, first of its kind in the history of our country, in police and health establishments of Odisha on 2nd October 2019 when the entire nation and indeed the world began celebrating 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the father of our nation.
It is worth recalling that a few years later once Shri Mohanty came to my office in the Rajya Sabha Secretariat with an officer of IB dealing with violence and bloodshed caused by the Naxalites. He informed me that the concerned IB officer felt that more than police action the ideals and thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi would bring about an end to Naxal problem plaguing large parts of the country. I was humbled to know that the IB officer wanted to discuss with me the ideas expounded by Gandhi on police to bring about constructive and progressive changes without adopting muscular and coercive approach. At that time he had told me that the newly recruited sub inspectors who had heard my lecture on Gandhi on police were still recalling it with fondness while discharging their duties in police establishment. It was quite refreshing to note that a police officer of Indian Police Service accorded so much importance to Mahatma Gandhi’s vision in the context of functioning of police force. It is quite apt that Chief Minister of Odisha Shri Naveen Patnaik has chosen Shri Mohanty as the interim DGP.
Abhya Kumar a sensitive police officer is an apt choice for the post of DGP
It is equally refreshing to find that Shri Abhya Kumar who is serving as the head of the Sardar Patel National Police Academy in Hyderabad has been chosen to function as full-fledged DGP of Odisha. His uprightness and his track record of competence combined with efficiency and honesty make him suitable for the top post in the police establishment of the State. I recall that when he was Superintendent of Police in Berhampur he told me that at end of the day one felt happy and fulfilled by serving the poor and needy who often become victims of exploitation in our society. It brought out his sensitivity and common touch as a police officer.
Selection of two competent officers affirm Transformational leadership of Naveen Patnaik
Shri Naveen Patnaik’s careful choice of two police officers to occupy the DGP post first as an interim measure and later paving the way for final full-fledged appointment of Shri Abhya Kumar affirm his credibility to uphold the cause of effective and clean governance at the centre of which remain people and their welfare. Such shaking up of top functionaries of Odisha bureaucracy for good governance is indicative and reflective of the transformational leadership so ably represented by Shri Naveen Patnaik who has ushered in paradigm shift in making governance people centric through his historic 5T and Mo Sarkar initiative.
.The author served as Officer on Special Duty and Press Secretary to President of India late Shri K R Narayanan and had a tenure in Prime Minister’s Office and Joint Secretary in Rajya Sabha Secretariat. Views expressed in the article are in his personal capacity.