The Nation's Valiant Warrior: IPS G P Singh
Ever since its inception, Regional Engineering College, Rourkela or NIT Rourkela as we all know it today, has created many great leaders who play critical roles around the world. Such is the story of IPS Gurjinder Pal Singh, a graduate of the Mechanical Department of 1990 who is currently serving as the Inspector General of Police in Durg, Chhattisgarh. Team MM got the golden chance to interview the dynamic man where he talked about his life at NIT Rourkela and what made a talented Mechanical Engineer to join the Indian Police Service. Here are the excerpts from the interview.
Monday Morning: You are a person of great renown and an IPS officer. How would you describe yourself?
Gurjinder Pal Singh: I don’t feel like being a renowned person. Everyone creates an image for themselves, and this image is how other people describe that individual. Being in a position of power the most important thing is how much you can deliver to the nation. Being the Inspector General of Police, I try my best to help those sections of the society whose plights are not heard at different levels of administration and this creates my image before them. There is always a big crowd in my office. People come to me with their problems because of the faith they have on me. Although this problem could have been solved at any lower office under me, I try my best to look into these problems personally.
MM: You are going to give a talk on the Student Counselling Programme. How important do you think SCP is for the students of NIT Rourkela?
GPS: While interacting with one of the students from the Counselling Program, I asked him, what are the problems that a fresher faces? He answered that most of the students who come into NIT are confused and have some form of invisible fear. For many, it is the first time they have ever come out of their homes, and it becomes difficult for them to make essential choices without proper guidance. They fear to be ragged and are therefore afraid of communicating with the seniors. They are not confident enough to interact with the professors. There are always the doubts regarding the skills a student needs to learn for excelling in his branch. This is where the Student Counselling Program comes in. It acts as the perfect platform for the seniors to provide genuine counsel to the freshers and help them in every way possible.
MM: Tell us something about your childhood. How did NIT happen to you?
GPS: During my days in primary school, I was very poor in my studies and being from a middle-class family from a semi-rural area I did not find much motivation to become serious in studies. It changed after one of my brothers got into the medical line and another into the engineering line. They motivated me to be serious towards my studies, and I gradually started being more serious. By my 10th class, I had become reasonably serious which was the beginning of my career. Then I went on to do my +2 from Ravenshaw College, Cuttack after which I appeared Odisha Joint Entrance Examination(OJEE) and got the 5th rank. As I left my house for the counselling at Burla, I had made up my mind that I would be taking Mechanical Engineering rather than Computer Science. I felt that if I could specialize in mechanical and learn the required computer skills myself, I would be able to deliver much more. One of my brother’s friend called me to tell me how great a mistake I had made my not taking Computer Science and how I could have got lucrative job offers outside India. I said to him that what is done can never be changed, but I have never repented my decision of taking Mechanical Engineering. This is how my story in REC, Rourkela began.
MM: How was your life at NIT Rourkela? How did it help you in becoming the person you are today?
GPS: NIT Rourkela was instrumental in carving out my satisfying career. When I joined TELCO after my B.Tech, I found myself working with many IITians but I realised that I am better than most of them professionally. Nowhere have I found myself to be lesser than people from other premier Institutes. Even in my fourth year, I was never sure that I would be able to bag a job. I was doing my hard work, but I never expected any results. When I sat for interviews and got selected in TELCO, SAIL, L&T, TESCO, it boosted my confidence quite a lot. Although I scored good marks in my semesters, I never had the courage, and NIT Rourkela gave me that confidence. For that, I would like to thank my teachers and my Alma mater as they were pivotal in shaping my career.
MM: Could you share with us some of your most cherished memories at NIT Rourkela?
GPS: One of the most cherished memories is that of a group of friends including me going out for a trip to the waterfall in Khandadhar. We left the campus at around 5 in the morning and reached Lohnipala by bus at about 8 am. Then we began our ascent up the hill towards Khandadhar which took us around 6 hours. All my friends got so tired that they wanted to have a night-halt in a small temple nearby, but I had to get back as I had a Mechanical sessional the other day. Despite their unwillingness, I motivated them to start the journey back. We broke sticks from the jungle and used them as canes. We reached back at College at the dead of night at around 12. The next day three of my friends fell severely ill, but I was unaffected. For this reason, my friends started calling me Mitochondria- The powerhouse of the cell.
I have another memory although it is not a happy one. It is the one of mass ragging. One day, the seniors attacked the fresher’s hostel after they cut the power from the transformer and started beating freshers with sticks and clubs. Sine die was declared in the college for a week. Then on our batch decided that we need to stop ragging. Ragging is a vicious cycle where seniors rag juniors to take revenge for the ragging they had faced when they were juniors. We decided that we need to break the cycle and stopped such mass ragging from ever happening again.
MM: What inspired you to pursue civil services after completing the Bachelor’s degree?
GPS: Initially, during my days at REC, I did not know about the civil services. Neither civil services nor any other government service was on my agenda. My peer group would always counsel me that I will make a big success in the private sector. I was also under the same impression. Initially, I joined TELCO while I was preparing for GRE. But my family did not want me to leave my country. Later on, I met some of my engineering colleagues who had joined the civil services. Hence, I came to know about it. I could notice the kind of leadership position civil services gives a person at a younger age, cannot be provided by a private sector service. The decision making power, the independence provided to the officials, the challenges of the job compelled me to pursue it. The demand for the private sector jobs was stealthily increasing, so I felt to take the path less followed. All these factors propelled me to appear the civil services exam. But I do not repent of joining civil services. All the past experiences like B.Tech in REC, service in TELCO, MBA in NITIE helped me in some part of my career as an IPS officer.
MM: When did you start your preparation for the civil service exam?
GPS: My preparation for the exam began when I was pursuing MBA in NITIE, Bombay. I would like to share the incident with you. When I decided to quit my job at TELCO to pursue higher studies, my DGM offered me sponsorship for the same. There was a rule that whenever a company sponsors a person, the person has to sign a bond with the company for two years. I could not agree with the rule and hence resigned. Since then, the idea for appearing in civil services was always in my mind. One day, while I was sitting on the dining table of NITIE Bombay, a student named Anuj came on my table. He introduced him as M.Tech from IIT Delhi and B.Tech from IIT Roorkee. He was also pursuing civil services and had appeared for three times. He had reached the interview stage twice, but couldn’t clear the interview process. Hence, he joined NITIE to get a decent job as his academics were not good enough to grab a job in IIT Delhi. I said that I also want civil services and asked him for advice. He asked me about the subjects I was most confident in. I said that I was good at Physics and Maths. He advised taking physics and maths as the optional subjects for the civil services. He brought the required books from Delhi, and I started the preparation
I had to prepare for the civil services along with the institute academics. We had a quarter system of exams in place of the semester system. It was quite challenging to balance both studies. Anuj could not clear the interview again. He left NITIE as he felt it was becoming difficult for him to cope with both the courses. He could clear the exam in his next attempt. Although it was tough to prepare for the civil service along with the academics, I didn’t leave NITIE.
MM: How would you describe your journey after becoming an IPS officer? What are the different challenges you faced after becoming an IPS officer?
GPS: My journey as an Inspector General has been very adventurous. My constant advice to the students is that whatever profession one follows, he should enjoy it with full heart and passion. Neither any branch nor any profession is inferior to the others. I took my service to heart with enthusiasm. My day as an IG started at six in the morning and continued until one at night. I can say that police service is a very satisfying and noble profession in which one can provide instant justice to the needy people and hence, justify the purpose for which he has come to police service. As a police officer, one may face challenges at every moment of his life in a new and unfamiliar way. This is the beauty of police service. A police officer has got to make fast decisions, show great leadership, give quick instructions. These situations help to bloom one’s personality. In a nutshell, my journey as an IPS officer is full of challenges and I believe many challenges are yet to come.
MM: What changes do you think you brought after becoming an IPS officer? Do you have any memorable incident to share with us?
GPS: I have a lot of memories collected on my path as an IPS officer. It becomes very difficult to quote one when you can nearly fill a book. I spent a significant part of my carrier in Naxal belt. I served a long tenure of four years in the Naxal belt. Recently, I had led a team to a Naxal camp and had many Naxals arrested. I was awarded the Gallantry Medal for the same.
Apart from that, I have done a lot of work in the technology sector. Recently, I launched an app named CitizenCOP. It is a security application where one can interact with the local police via the app. He can report any incidents and can call for help during emergencies. It can be downloaded from the apple store or play store. This application was awarded the Digital India Award by the Government of India.
MM: What different changes can you observe between now and the REC in the 1990s?
GPS: One can find massive changes between the present NITR and the REC of the 90s. There has been a vast development in infrastructure. A lot of new and essential branches has been introduced. During our time, the institute strength was just 2000. Now the campus houses more than 6000 students. The hostels have become very attractive with adequate facilities and cleanliness. The college has also become beautiful. New restaurants and stores are being built inside the campus. The campus has grown self-sufficient, and one can find any item of need inside the campus. Startups are being encouraged. A lot of unimaginable developments are being brought.
MM: What do you think is the role of alumni in the development of his alma mater? Do you think NITRAA is successful in achieving its aim?
GPS: I believe that alumni play an immense role in an institute’s development. They help in placements, finances etc. The utility of an alumni network is beyond imagination. Over the years, NITRAA has shown great signs of development. The senior alumni have been doing wonders. During our time, the alumni network was not widely spread, but currently, the alumni network of NITR is spread all over the world. My schedule does not allow me for socializing. But I can also notice that many seniors alumni have done wonders. Overall NITRAA is very satisfying, and the new junior inductees should learn from this. The challenge is to keep the energy of the alumni alive, and NITRAA is succeeding in maintaining it.
MM: Please enlighten our readers with your few inspirational lines.
A person’s talent will become the key differentiator in his coming future.As long as we are present on this campus, we must utilise this time efficiently and effectively. Nothing in this world can stop a person from ascending the ladder of success, but at the same time, he must be aware of the trend and the sweeping changes that are taking place in his surroundings.The times are changing so fast that if he does not keep himself informed, he may miss the bus despite having the best marks in his college. If a person contains the requires set of skills the market demands, he may become indispensable for the organisation. People say that unemployment is a matter of significant concern in our country, but I think that the key problem lies in the shortage of educated youth having the requisite industrial knowledge. Getting a degree does not guarantee one’s job. He has to acquire those set of skills and talents that the world demands. And by doing this, he can request an indispensable position according to his choice and discretion.