The Devta Theory

As a kid I used to love reading ‘Commando’ Comics that had World War II stories about brave men and cowards. About soldiers and Generals. I remember a quote in one of the stories on fighter pilots. It went something like this,“ There are good fighter pilots and old fighter pilots. There are no good old fighter pilots.” Today, as the working environment within the police department grows grim and chances of a smooth (read, non-catastrophic) career graph grow bleak, I’m often reminded of this million dollar quote. The police officer’s job is today one of the most complex and stressful ones imaginable, where the best of intentions and back breaking labour may not be sufficient for keep oneself out of trouble. Often serious trouble.
The modern day Indian citizens, at least those belonging to its burgeoning middle-class, are extremely conscious of their rights. They seem to have taken the ‘The Great Indian Success Story,’ sold to it so successfully by the media, for real. They feel that we Indians have achieved the standards of the western world as we carry the same mobile phones or drive the same cars or watch the same soap opera. The blinkered vision does not see the dirty underbelly with which the police has to cope to keep the social order from collapsing. A country on the boil, torn by caste and religion like never before. The millions of unemployed, restive youth. The ugly slums depicted in the film, ‘The Slumdog Millionaire’, sans the happy endings. The highway robbers, the merciless kidnappers, the petty thieves, the thugs, the murderers and all the other brands of law breakers who lurk around every corner. All the elements that periodically rock the peace and quiet of our civic society.
The vociferous citizen today demands quick and complete solution to all his problems, completely unmindful of the ground realities. The better educated and well aware amongst them even seek to educate you on the contemporary policing practices of the developed world! The self-respecting police officers struggle to deliver in the face of constraints imposed by the system. The inertia of a poorly educated and poorly recruited force . The constraints imposed by adoption of liberal detention practices aping the developments in the West. The constant glare of media that seeks to sensationalize each minor development. Often, reputations carefully nurtured and cherished by honest, hardworking men are mindlessly destroyed at the hands of teenaged reporters in a hurry to make the ‘Burkha Dutt Grade’. The Courts and the myriad commissions and self-proclaimed social activists are there to conduct the postmortem of each professional decision and investigation, often drawing wisdom imparted by hindsight. The police officer unfortunately, does not usually have the luxury of time. Decisions have to be taken even when complete information is not available as even a bad decision is better than no decision.
The new entrants to the department, the young blood, are today, facing a crisis of confidence. The confidence to take a call whenever a situation demands to the best of one’s intentions and abilities. The apprehension of problems that can possibly arise from each course of action is causing a paralysis in decision making. Nobody seems to want to command anymore, lest he be blamed for the problems that may arise from the decisions that he took. And what are the kind of decisions that a police officer has to take? The decision to open fire on a violent mob. The decision to aggressively stop a suspicious vehicle and risk an accident. The decision to withstand adverse media publicity and take a principled stand to reject trial by media and to be ruled by evidence. The decision to tread into the dangerous gray areas of law and procedures in the interest of justice.
So what does one do? Quit? As a plain speaking boss put it somewhat crudely, ‘You are not obliged to continue in this job if its so tough!’ But I subscribe to a happier view. One need not quit or be fearful. One should enjoy every moment of this wonderful and God sent opportunity to do good and dispense justice. One should take each decision inspired by the confidence of bona fide intentions. Its not that things won’t go wrong. For a while, at least. Or may be for a wee bit longer than that. But things will be okay in the end. For somewhere in this big bad world is a man who is watching you and your work. He may have made different choices in his own life and career but he still respects those made by a clear and honest heart. He may be a senior colleague, a judge, a politician, a media man or an activist. But when you have your back to the wall he will appear as sure as the Devtas of Hindu mythology and bail you out. Sometimes quite literally! Believe it or not, this is a well established and widely endorsed belief in the department and has been aptly christened as the ‘Devta Theory’.

3 thoughts on “The Devta Theory”

  1. Well written…..seems to come right from the heart
    Hope sustains more than just life !!

  2. Good job sir.. I was searching for something motivational and encouraging quotes and this post dint discourage me.

    Keep posting… hoping for the next one 🙂

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