Dr. C. Sylendra Babu IPS, Commissioner of Police, Coimbatore is an inspiration for thousands of youth who aspire to join the civil services today. His zeal in directly engaging in rescue operations has won him several laurels. He is the recipient of the Chief Minister’s Medal for outstanding devotion to duty in 2000, Prime Minister’s Medal for saving the lives of 18 bus passengers in 2001, Chief Minister’s Police Medal for Gallantry in 2001, and President Police Medal for Meritorious Service in 2005. In an exclusive interview with Marie Banu, he shares his views about social work and the need for discipline in the society today.
What inspired you to become a police officer?
I had a passion for uniform even during my school days. I was a NCC cadet and then became the NCC Sergeant. Amongst hundred cadets, I was the chief in school. Even in college, I was the Senior Under Officer, a top position. It was since then I had a passion to wear the uniform. I came to know about Indian Police Service through one my seniors who had passed the IAS examination—Mr. V K Subburaj, Secretary, Health. He was my pioneer.
You have written several books, most of them motivating youth to join the civil services. What is your impression about the youth of today?
I find happiness in the midst of children. My hobby is to motivate adolescents and I have written a book titled ‘Be ambitious’. It is one of the interesting books that I wrote and children like it. I could reach more youngsters, particularly adolescents through this book. They talk to me and interact through my website which has more than 43,000 hits and over 1500 interactions.
I train youngsters on competitive examinations like civil services and I have written a book titled ‘You too can become an IPS officer’. From the beginning, I liked to guide children and I always find time for them. They are good and have aspirations but their circumstances are not good, particularly their parents who have a different set of ambitions. For instance, if they want to do aviation or shipping, their parents would want them to do electronic communication
Civil Services provide a person with a higher position and responsibilities at a much younger age. Is this an advantage or a challenge?
Young age gives one many advantages. You can take decisions fast, lead from the front, and you have all the energy. Even if you are given a high responsibility, you can discharge it to the admiration of those whom you lead. IPS training is for a period of 2 years and 4 months and it could be even more, if you include the probationary period. During the training, you would be taught law, investigation, evidences, man management, and inter personnel skills.
Being asked to manage responsibilities at a young age is a real thrill and I loved it. My first posting was in Gopichettypalayam when Veerapan was reigning supreme. He was in control of most of the villages in the hills and it was a big challenge. We fought against him for about a year and brought him out of his place. There were a couple of firings and encounters in which I shot two of his men and he in turn shot my own men. I was fortunate enough to get such challenging postings.
You have been directly involved in rescuing accidents victims. If you were not a police officer, would you have still does this?
I really don’t know. But there are many people who come forward to help accident victims. They offer help to hospitalize the victims and even stay with them for a long time. I could have been one among them.
But, a vast majority of people avoid helping an accident victim. Maybe, they think that they will have to come for future litigations to give evidence about the incident. It is one’s responsibility to give a complaint about the accident if he is the only man who has witnessed it. To the maximum, you will have to appear in the court for one day to give evidence of what you have seen. But, if you wish to opt of this, it is fine. We will find another witness or police themselves can be the witness.
Helping a victim, assisting him in the accident site and saving his life is in itself a great honor. In a lifetime, one may get only one chance to do that. I will advice every citizen who happens to see an accident to offer help immediately.
You organize summer camps for children in your neighborhood and in this taught karate and spoken English for over 100 children. Would you like to mentor such camps in rural areas?
Absolutely, if, there is a need, we will come. But it would not be possible to do this on a regular basis.
We have been organizing summer camps at Mogappair in Chennai since 2002 for the underprivileged children as well as those who belonged to the middle income group. We started with a physical fitness program. As we had a good karate team in the city, we formed a boys club and offered free karate training. Few parents asked us to provide tuitions for children in English and mathematics. So, we extended our support by teaching spoken English besides karate training. Some of our students have excelled in school and college and few have joined the software industry. My son is also a student in this club.
Your advice for people who are involved in social work?
Professional social workers are doing extremely well. It is better if social workers do not look at personal gains or publicity and really do a good job. For instance, I know one Air India pilot Mr. Nandakumar who is running a school free of cost and never claims to be a social worker. Also, I know a couple who worked in Kodai International School running a school free of cost in Thiruvarur. There are people like these who are silently doing good work. Social service should be obvious. One should do the best they can, the most they can, and talk the least about it. If you start doing things for publicity sake, the work will be less and concentration will be more in investing and meeting people, bringing them to your place. As a result, time is lost and in the process effort is also lost.
What would you like to say to the Conversations readers?
This message which I have for the readers of this magazine is that self discipline is the solution for most of the social problems today. Individual persons should know his responsibilities better than rights. Today people are aware of their rights rather than their responsibilities.
In our place, in our dealings with other people, in our personal living, if every citizen is more disciplined, it will be more useful to our society. I come across cases of dishonesty and people easily get cheated. If a man takes advantages of another person and takes away his property or money, the same person should be ashamed and realize that there is a society that is watching him.
The society should come down heavily on a man who is trying to cheat another person. Even his own wife and children and close relatives should hate him. Instead, if a man is amassing wealth and is well off, he is appreciated. People like to be his fan and would like to take a picture with this man who is successful despite the fact that he has achieved success through the wrong way. We should aspire for a society that does not tolerate indiscipline, crime, corruption, and nepotism. Like Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam’s vision 2020, we should have a super India with super powers by 2020.
About The Author