What is it like being a young IPS officer?

Answer by Anonymous:

This might not be what most of you might expect, but do not chastise me if it doesn’t meet your expectations.
Cadre: South Indian state
Post: Assistant Superintendent of Police.
Relationship status: Unmarried
Weekday :
  • Wake up at 7 AM all groggy from the previous days late night sleep(Read 4 AM). Well, you can’t blame anyone for your poor sleep except that it would have been better if the gangs of your city could do their murders during the day so that you could at least sleep for 5 hours.
  • You check your phone for messages and missed calls. You see that there are 10 missed calls and 15 messages. You curse the day you kept IPS above IRS in your service preference and proceed to get ready.
  • You grab a quick breakfast (read banana) and tea and call your driver to come over quickly. He too is tired from the previous day’s labour but tries to hide it.
  • You get into your official car and head to the office. On the way you get a call from your SP who shouts at you for five minutes regarding a high profile political murder case that you are investigating. You listen to everything he says without saying a word because this is quite routine for you. He shouts at you often and he gets shouted on by someone senior to him/MLA/Minister. Deep inside you know he too is under immense pressure.
  • You reach the office and sit down at your desk for a minute. You then call your inspector for a briefing. The inspector talks frantically about the big theft case that is pending in your jurisdiction. A suspect X has been apprehended and is at the station. You learn that they have questioned X for two hours to no avail. They want permission to use force on him. You repeatedly ask him if they are sure. The inspector replies by saying that X was involved in a theft before and the modus operandi appears to be the same. You trust your gut and ask them to proceed with the ‘third degree’. They take him inside into the secret cell. Your mind becomes uneasy and you decide to monitor the interrogation from outside the cell. Outside the cell, you check your phone for updates from another inspector of yours regarding the political murder case. While you are on the phone you hear X’s wailing. You hope to god that nothing happens to X.
  • While you are waiting, the head of a famous local NGO , Mrs Y comes in. Y brings with her a frail woman and a child. The woman and the child seem to be in abysmal condition with the hapless woman showing clear signs of mental illness. You ask her how you can help. Y asks you to transfer the child to child services. You do the same and Y leaves you with the woman. You wonder to god what you are supposed to do with the woman. You ask one of your constables to take her to the nearest mental hospital. You obviously cannot ask him to take the bus as she is mentally ill and ask him to take a taxi. You call the local bar owner and ask him to arrange a taxi and pay the 2000 rupee expense for the taxi. You know it is corruption, something you despised before you came into the service. You try to tell yourself that you don’t take any money for yourself.
For those of you who are unaware it takes at least 20-30k rupees a month to run a police station in India. An ASP manages 4-5 police stations. These are expenses that arise like in the situation in the last para. You cannot ask the government to pay the same for there is no such provision. You know you have to ask the local bigwigs(read bar owners, hazardous industry owners,cinema hall owners etc.) to bear the same. It is corruption but not for personal gain. It is required for the police machinery to not break down. The money is used for travel expenses for cases, support the family of dead police officers etc. The salary of a non IPS police officer is abysmal that he can certainly not bear the case expenses without this money. This money is barely enough to just run the police station.
  • It is 10 am when you get an update from your second inspector that his team has zeroed in on a suspect regarding the political murder case. The suspect seems to be a prominent party goon. They are scared to death to take him into custody for questioning. You decide to wait for a warrant from a magistrate. After a while you get called by your SP after the SP get calls from the a local party leader. You explain to the SP that the SP himself asked you to resolve the case fast and that you had not arrested the party goon. You sit down for 5 minutes thinking about the political case. Your phone rings again this time from a station 15 km away from your location. They seem to have found a couple of dead bodies in the river bank. You ask them if they can resolve it themselves because you are obviously overloaded. They explain to you that the two dead bodies belong to a couple who were lovers from different castes and that there are clear signs of murder on their bodies. They tell you that the media are on their way. You tell them to seal the area and call forensics to wrap up the evidence collection. You curse India and its caste system and get on your car and hurry to the river bank.
  • You get to the river and see flocks of people watching the police from outside the sealed area. The moment you step out putrid smell fills your nose and you fervently ask your constable to hand over the vaporub to you. You dab it under your nose. It helps mask the smell slightly but not much. Soon the air is rented by cries and wails as the family of the deceased arrives. You have grown numb to it over the years. It doesn’t affect you anymore. You then listen to your subordinates tell you whatever they have gathered. Meanwhile the media personnel who arrive request for a briefing. You give a disinterested 30 second briefing and get back to your car to head back to your head office.
  • On the way you ask your driver to get some food as your are starving. You know he wouldn’t be able to muster anything edible in this rural area that is straight out of a 60’s tamil movie. You dismally eat the vegetarian meals that he brings. As you hand over the money for the food to your driver he says the shop owner refused to take money. You ignore the guilt in your mind and ask your driver to start the car.
  • The time is 2 PM and you are back at the office. Meanwhile Mr. X who was being questioned has agreed to the crime. The inspector explains to you that they are sure now but they do not have evidence. You nod to him to do what is necessary. He proceeds to take strands of X’s hair to be presented as evidence from the crime scene. Meanwhile you look and despair at your recovery rate.
(For those who don’t know what it is, a recovery rate is the value of stolen goods that are recovered divided by the value of goods registered as stolen under your watch. It should ideally be an indicator of how efficient you are but in reality it is inversely correlated).
  • You remember that your friend who is an ASP at the next district has a much better recovery rate than you. You curse yourself for registering difficult cases and vow to yourself to follow his method of not registering difficult cases at all to increase your own recovery rate. The inspector is kind to you and is very respectful towards you(nevermind the fact that he is 50 and has seen everything and you are barely 25). The inspector explains to you that X has a lot of money at his hideout. You know the money is not connected to the current case he is charged with, yet you let the inspector charge him with a couple of pending theft cases at the station. That should help your recovery rate a bit you tell yourself.
  • The time is 4 PM and you get called to the SP’s office for a case you have been pursuing for one year. The SP tells you about intelligence inputs received regarding the dacoit gang that you are trying to nab for almost an year. He discusses with you about who they are and where they are staying. You realise that there is no presentable evidence but you become fairly certain from the intelligence input that they are the dacoits that you are trying to nab. You smell blood and call a quick meeting with your team for the case. The team arrives and you ask your constable to go as an undercover to the gang’s place. The constable goes in the guise of a postman delivering a registered letter.
  • The time is 6PM and you anxiously wait for your constable’s return. You light up a cigarette to calm your nerves. You think of the constable’s family. You think of how his wife will take care of his two daughters in case anything happens to him. Thankfully he returns unscathed. You take the pen that one of the dacoits used to sign the letter and extract the fingerprint out of it. You then compare it with the fingerprints from the previous crime scene. It’s a match. You pass on the information to your SP. You discuss with him about what to do next. You both know that the gang might not be there the next day. They might go on to kill dozens and loot money. You both think about the 7 people they have murdered in different cases. The SP decides to grab this golden chance.
  • You concur with him and at around 11 PM go with a bus full of police ready to nab the 4 criminals. You then proceed in stealth mode to the gang’s location. You ask your team to camp 50 m away from the place. You send your team of sharp shooters to confront them. The shooters tell you that they have placed the 4 dacoits under arrest. You go in. You ask your 8 shooters to handcuff them. You then ask 7 people to leave. You brief to the shooter about the decision taken by you and the SP. You ask the shooter to kill them and file the FIR as killed in combat. You proceed to the other room as the shooter explains everything to his team mates. You go out for a puff of cigarette. They stage the entire thing to resemble a combat and then finishes off the entire gang. You finish up in an hour and decide to call it a day at 2 AM.
For those unaware, in India it is very difficult to get criminals punished through proper channels(read court). When someone/gang becomes a major headache there is no option than to kill them ‘in combat’. The idealist in you might chastise me but spare a thought for us. We need to kill them to help you sleep safe at night. When the justice system is fucked, the police has to do their own jugaad to keep cities safe for people.
  • You come back to your house at 2 AM and have a peg of whiskey to cool down. You tell yourself that the ‘combat’ was for a greater good and try to justify yourself morally. You know that the SP is doing just the same at his house.
This answer is not an exaggeration. I barely have time to even sit down. Forget vacations, i do not even get a one day leave unless i take prior permission. My situation has arisen because of my posting but it is not much better for officers in other posts as well. Crime never ends in India. Like a Lernean hydra without death cases just keep popping up.
You have to engage in corruption to just run the show, not for personal gain. The bright young IITian idealist in you who wrote the civil service exam is long dead. You wonder how your life would have been had you continued at the Goldman Sachs job that you were at once.
This post is not to discourage anyone from joining IPS but being aware of what you are getting into is essential for any job. There are many people who enjoy the daily life that I’ve described above. I strongly suggest that you think deeply if you have plans to join the service. This is completely subjective, but my personal opinion is that IPS in particular can be harrowing to certain people. This is because the nature of the job is quite different from that of an IAS or IRS. This can be quite a transition for some people(like me). You wake up everyday listening to murder, families being destroyed. Most people shudder when they even read it in the news. Think about going to such incredibly wretched places everyday of your life for at least 15 years. Although i have to say work becomes easier after 15 years in the IPS(subject to your cadre).
P.S: i had not intend to ramble so much when i started writing the answer. It also went viral to an extent i didn’t expect. As suggested by a couple of my friends I am reposting this answer. I read Quora’s anonymity rules(they have to disclose identity in case of a request from the police) and as suggested by some people who commented, i am moving this answer to a disposable email ID posted through a VPN.

What is it like being a young IPS officer?

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