My Travel Map

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Saluting a Hero

Heroes may retire but they don’t fade away. They will continue to inspire.

Everyone has his or her own childhood hero. My wife has had the good fortune to be inspired by one throughout her life – her father, and I have had the pleasure of knowing and admiring him from close quarters for the last 3 years or so.  Like all heroes, he does not talk too much, but believes in action. He takes the guise of an IPS officer. Yes, that much maligned and much lampooned protector of civil society. Yes, also that breed which most Bollywood reel action heroes belong to.  A police officer.  Earning less than maybe even some petty criminals and yet fighting every day to resist material temptations and bring them to book.

So we hero worship our Singhams, our Rowdy Rathores and our Chulbul Pandeys. But how do we repay our real heroes? Surely not the way our country has chosen to. As he stands on the cusp of his retirement today – a day he surely must have been looking forward to – to look back fondly in pride at his 30-plus years of achievements and accolades, he finds no joy. Only betrayal. By the same system he once embraced wholeheartedly and tried very hard to make a difference.

He tried to attempt what few police officers attempt to do – took the hard stance with crime, earned the respect of all and sundry, stayed fair, stayed clean and did not succumb to any undue pressure. He was good enough to instill fear, real fear in those who were in the wrong. Yes, he was a very high ranking police officer. But you don’t see his palatial houses being built in every corner of the state. You don’t see him standing next to the minister’s daughter at every wedding. Yet what was his strength becomes his weakness in the twilight of his career. The fact that he has curried favours with no one makes it all so easy for most to turn their backs and look the other way when he is dragged into a conspiracy.

A political conspiracy that we common people do not have the knowhow or resources to fight. Yes we have the will and we will fight. But it will be a long fight. And fight for what? The rights that were due to him to begin with? The respect that the department, the politicians and the judiciary should have accorded him?

I had always considered the civil services to be too much of an effort to consider pursuing. Like so many of my peers, I chose the easy way out – to graduate with some degrees from some institutes that were the flavour of the season. I left nation building and nation saving to people with stronger moral fibre and a more capable attitude. But I always appreciated the fact that intelligence should be channeled not towards making more money for people who already have loads of money – as we in the banking industry are wont to do – but towards the greater good that is at the core of civil service. I always thought I would encourage my children to gravitate towards that eventuality or at least be courageous enough to consider it.

But if this is the way we treat our countrymen who try to make a difference, I am starting to have second thoughts. Because our politicians, corrupt bureaus of investigation and judiciary are not made up of aliens from another land, they are just a reflection of our society and our lack of understanding and utter apathy towards those who are serving us tirelessly on meager handouts of tax payers’ money. We have to understand sooner or later that food bills and aadhar cards won’t save us. Judicial reforms and police reforms are the crying need of the hour, and is the only way forward to achieving a more just and balanced society.  Regret to say that till that day comes, we have to deal with life being indeed very unfair.

But he is not done yet. Far from it. When I started off, I said that today he may not feel any joy. But I think am wrong. I think here is a man who has nothing to fear, nothing left to prove, and everything to feel proud about. A man who has lived to his principles and touched the lives of everyone he has come in contact with, earning respect, love and admiration. To his family and friends and most importantly to himself, he will always be a hero. And that is all that it takes to be a happy man. The rest, we will continue to fight for.