Who Knew! Our Policemen Make a Difference!

Last week’s piece, “What do we (Mumbaiites) have that Delhi doesn’t!” saw a spate of comments. Among the usual points discussed (our local train service, the better weather, etc), one thread that stood out was how “safe” Mumbai is and how helpful our policemen are, compared to Delhi.

As with so many things, I guess we take our local policemen, regular or traffic, for granted. They are there, all the time, plugging away, doing their jobs, part of the background, coming into focus only when they screw up or when we suddenly need to interact with them, typically when there has been a robbery in our homes or work-places or we’ve been in an accident, or during passport verification.

Two days ago, early in the morning, I was doing a street run along all the spidery limbs of King’s Circle (more about that in the next few weeks). Whether it was around Five Gardens, or along the main road to Sion Circle, or towards Dadar, there were a large number of police constables and inspectors on the roads, as part of their Republic Day duties. Each time, I passed one by, I would smile…and he would smile back. I waved at a few on their motorbikes and they too…waved back. They had cordoned off Five Gardens because of the parade that was to pass through, but each time some student had to get across to his/her school, they would help, especially at the Ruia Naka signal where most vehicles refused to stop, irrespective of whether the signal was red or green (it was early morning and a holiday, but that again is fodder for another piece).

We live in a world of stereotypes and we love to slot everyone into categories. And so, thanks to Bollywood, policemen are either bumbling idiots or venal and corrupt. If at all we are able to withstand being influenced by this rubbish, the newspapers don’t make it any easier. Almost each day sees an article on some police atrocity or another, or their unhelpful nature especially when it comes to filing FIRs, or how corrupt they are. Once in a while, there is article, also usually unsympathetic, on how stressed and out-of-shape our policemen are, with a higher incidence of cardiac disease, diabetes and depression.

Big surprise there! Our policemen and women are also humans like us, living in the same milieu and environment that we do. They cannot escape being who they are and how they behave, as much as we cannot change who and what we are.

And yet, on the ground, they are polite and nice and try to assist to the best of their abilities, especially if we address them nicely and politely as well. Most Mumbaiites who’ve stopped and asked for directions or help even at odd hours, should be able to vouch for this. And perhaps it is just this one quality that allows the city to be considered “safe”. If you have the ability to approach your local policemen when you are worried about your safety or are “lost”, then that says a lot…about our policemen and policewomen and our city. And apparently, this is just not the case in Delhi or many other parts of the country.

And so, considering that none of us is a saint as well, perhaps it’s not a bad idea to say a small “thank you” to our local policemen and women, who while battling their own demons and issues, do in their own way, contribute to making our city a shade better place to live in.

18 Comments

  • H.L. Chulani wrote:

    Not surprised that there are no comments until this one. Readers, like others expect others to do their duty while many ignore their own! Policemen are an overworked lot. Thank you for remembering them.

  • Bhavin Jankharia wrote:

    Posted this only this morning. Hence comments will take a little more time to come.

  • Agreed that none of us is a saint, but as you have mentioned my encounters with the policemen so far either for passport verification, or when a trailer scraped past our car at a busy intersection have not been very pleasant. On the contrary, when our house was burgled and our passports were stolen along with other articles,the policemen were very helpful. So one can safely say that there are always two sides to a coin. And it does not hurt to acknowledge their thankless, stressful job with long, strenuous hours, poor monetary compensation and pathetic dwelling units allotted by government.

  • Bhavin Jankharia wrote:

    As with all things in life Medha. The world just can’t be seen in blacks and whites.

  • Our cops specialy the traffic ones, are good. Compare it to other cities and you will know what I mean. So, as you said, thanks to banta hai

  • Bhavin Jankharia wrote:

    Our traffic cops are good. Have experienced this.

  • Totally agree.I did go to their website once and leave a thank you note.Not that it is a big deal.Have to think of other ways to appreciate them as well.Govandi Police station is just outside our building.May be some act of kindness and gratitude is due.Really appreciate the article.

  • Agreed whole-heartedly…wish there could be more ways to let them know this so that even the lesser motivated ones could find a spring in their step, a reason to perform…so often, it is the concept of being in a thankless job that must be discouraging so many of them…so thank you, mumbai cops…

  • Bhavin Jankharia wrote:

    Aparna…I guess you could smile at them once in a while.

  • P. Venkatraman wrote:

    Your post is very relevant. During the SCMM I had written a small piece titled, ‘The considerate runner’ which carried the following lines

    “The considerate runner recognizes that a whole lot of folks put in a great effort to get this event together. He acknowledges them by – Thanking volunteers / aid station workers / doctors / Traffic cops and all others on the way…a wave of hand, a smile, a thumbs up gesture will do..no need to sacrifice your PB :-)”

    Cheers,

    Venkat

  • Bhavin Jankharia wrote:

    Venkat, thanks for sharing. So true. Read a story of how the SCMM organisers came back to take care of an 80-years old German who took 11 plus hours. The volunteers waited for him to finish once they all heard that he was on his way accompanied by the organisers. Bhavin.

  • DR KIRAN R DHAKE wrote:

    Very true that Mumbai cops are helpfulas comapre to other metros in our country.
    As correctly mentioned that media in a way is responsible of a image of our cops.When we talk about out of proportion belly of our cops and respective diseases related with that,we seem not to realise how much stressful events they be thorugh during their job.As a human being, they are definately prone to have these elements.Though it becomes debatebale issue at timss.
    As far as help is concerned, Mumbai cops are efficient..definately..
    Hope we all realise two sides of coin even in this situation.

    cheers mates.

    Kiran.

  • shubhojit wrote:

    Like politicians we too get the police we deserve …but, yes, it is the odd one out who brings a smile on our lips and makes us realize that they too are human …like us !
    And, as we look closely one realizes that the larger part of their population is human, helpful and normal. We need to thank Bollywood and the media for giving them the hues which we identify them with …albeit incorrectly …but then again there comes along an odd guy who upsets the belief, and the see-saw goes on.
    Cheers!

  • Bhavin Jankharia wrote:

    As with all things Shubhojit.

  • Good one Bhavin. I always have wondered how they manage the crowds during Ganesh Utsav when religious fervour is at it’s absolute peak. They make sure we are all able to get home safe and sound. I once had driven down from outside Mumbai on Visarjan day and it was amazing as the traffic on the roads was so well organised. Last year flew out on Visarjan evening and I got to the airport faster than a normal day even if I had to go through Dharavi.

  • Your article has vindicated the much maligned MumbaiPolice force,agreed there are many black sheeps,but we do find them amongst us too,in our societys AGM, in our offices the back stabbing Rats,in first class compartments of Rlyws everywhere.imagine doing 24 hrs bandobast duty,wthout food,bath,or basic hygenic conditon,the bureaucrat denying them their much deserved bandobast allowances.When the IPS officers are sleeping in their 3 bedroomflats wriggled from govt.these poor lot of policemen are trudging home in Zopadpattis,or dilapidted quarters.Please start a movment to treat them as apart of society by giving them good homes wherin he can have a good days sleep.

  • Sunil Kamath wrote:

    First time ever I visited this site.

    Was TOTALLY OVER-WHELMED by the comments …made out in support of the Mumbai Police…. having managed to HIT THE NAIL, RIGHT ON THE HEAD.

    Most have recognized the fact that the MOST DAMAGE has been done by Bollywood with the media too ‘chipping in’ with its irresponsible coverage.

    The LAST LINE in the LAST COMMENT..by Udayan Govekar …. reflects the NEED of THE HOUR … “Please start a movement……wherein he can have a good days sleep.”

    (IF I CAN BE OF ANY HELP….PLEASE DO COUNT ME IN.)

  • Sunil Kamath wrote:

    I personally on behalf of THE ENTIRE CONSTABULARY & THE OFFICERS of the THE TRAFFIC CONTROL BRANCH, (through this forum) would like to THANK, each and every single individual for showing their compassion towards the personnel of the Dept.

    (Dr). Sunil Kamath.

    (Sr. Traffic Warden – Matunga Division)

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