Daijiworld Media Network - Mangaluru (ANK)
Mangaluru, Jan 19: Hailing from Tamil Nadu, K Annamalai was one of the best known IPS officers in Karnataka in recent times. Having served the police force for nine years, many of those years in the sensitive coastal region, Annamalai resigned in May 2019. His upright and strict method of enforcing law and dealing with anti-social elements earned him the sobriquet 'Singham of Karnataka'. He served as ASP of Karkala before taking charge as SP of Udupi district, and was then transferred to Bengaluru as DCP (South). He is much loved and respected in the coastal region, especially in Udupi where he ably served the common people with courtesy and dealt with trouble-makers with an iron fist.
In an exclusive interview on Daijiworld 24x7's Public Challenge with Daijiworld editor-in-chief Walter Nandalike, the former IPS officer speaks candidly about his life, his upcoming book and shares his views on various issues.
Q: After serving in the police force for 9 years, are you relaxed now and is all going as per your plans?
A: I cannnot say that I am relaxed. I am traveling a lot, and I am doing farming back home. I attend college functions and interact with students. Policing was a fixed lifestyle. Writing a book is keeping me busy.
Q: Parents aspire to see their children become IAS and IPS officers and start planning from an early stage. You are an inspiration to many youngsters. You were just 22 when you wrote UPSC exam, what made you choose this career?
A: After my engineering I wanted to become an entrepreneur and went to Lucknow to pursue my MBA. The exposure I got at Uttar Pradesh was a big eye-opener for me. I saw that people were murdered for five rupees, and my batchmates were robbed. I saw poverty at its worst. We need a shocker, when there comes a moment of truth and we look at life from a different perspective. This is what happened to me and I thought why not take up public service. At the same time Mumbai terror attack happened. These two incidents pushed me in the direction towards public service.
Q: Your speech in front of the then president Pranab Mukerjee, soon after your training period, inspired many youths to join public service, but the same Annamalai had enough of police service for 9 years and resigned. What is your response?
A: I have not come out from public service, I have just come out from policing. Public service is a big umbrella and police is part of public service. I am looking at different ways to contribute. I will decide in the next three to four months. Politics would be an option.
Q: When did you first feel that you needed to resign from policing?
A: In the year 2018 I was part of a batch of Kailash Mansarovar pilgrims and was there was 60 days without mobile phone, which made me think. When Madhukar Shetty died, I saw his body in Bengaluru, and thought, he was not supposed to die at such a young age. He was even offered a ticket by a political party when he was in the US, and he was on the verge of deciding whether to join politics or not. I saw him during the last two years of his life. Madhukar Shetty was a person fit for making policies, and he felt trapped in policing. He wanted to do big things, but was not allowed to. The journey to Kailash Mansarovar, the death of Madhukar Shetty and my posting to Bengaluru were the reasons behind my resignation.
Q: You have served in Karkala, Udupi-Chikkamagaluru and Bengaluru. Which place was the most challenging for you?
A: Serving in the coastal region was very challenging, because people here are highly educated, driven and demand so much from you. If you respond, they treat you as hero, but if you do not respond then they don't care. Even while committing crime, they do it smartly, so we need to be one step ahead to catch the culprit. Karnataka state has great culture, everyone accepts you. It is a privilege to serve in the coastal belt.
Q: There is a need for police reforms in the state. What is your opinion about people-friendly policing?
A: It is possible, but you need to have a clear vision. The government needs to make a decision on making police reforms internally and externally. People are paid very poorly, and the minute system needs to be eliminated. Each inspector and sub-inspector has to be decided by merit, and there needs to be a proper, open transparent system. The time has come where public needs to be part of the transparent selection process. Police need to be given proper vehicle, and a comfortable place to stay. In the last budget only Rs 1,650 crore was allotted for the police force, which was less than 1%, of the total budget. Most of that goes into salaries, and we have nothing in our capital expenditure. Police play an important role but when only Rs 1,650 crore has been allotted, how can we expect better policing? I am publishing
a book in September about all this. It is hard-hitting and very open.
Q: After resigning from the police force there was a rumour that Annamalai would join the BJP, and that his ideology is right wing. Politics is your ambition, but where will you start your political career - in Karnataka or Tamil Nadu?
A: I stand for good governance, any place where there is no dynasty, which promotes leaders and puts nation first. Every political party has got its problems. There is a rumour about me joining a political party, but right now I have taken a break. I am a big fan of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and I believe that the nation needs decisive leadership and the time has come. The leadership needs to focus not only on securing the border but on economy, creation of jobs and more. We are going through a critical time, and all over the world countries are facing problems. Everyone says that I am a Modi fan, so I will join BJP. Absolutely not. Every nation has its problems, but when you go abroad you are representing your nation. Modi is the sitting Prime Minister, and for all the plus and minuses, I think as a package he has done well. The greatness of Indian democracy is that we can agree to disagree. I do not believe in this concept of abusing someone or calling someone anti-national for not agreeing with me. I am a big fan of Modi simply because he shows me that a common man can aspire to become a top guy, he does not need to come from any dynasty and has no corruption charges. I have not decided to join any party. I meet all the political leaders even from Congress to learn how they manage different things like implementing policies, managing the constituency, the party, party workers etc.
My ideology is everybody in India is equal. That is the fundamental belief. I had the same spirit when I joined IPS. I am sickened by what is happening in India right now, on WhatsApp and Twitter. We must agree to disagree, but disagreeing does not mean that I should attack you abuse you and say you are anti-national.
Q: What is your stand on Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)?
A: I have read the text of CAA line by line. Each nation has a character of its own. India's character is secular. When was the word 'secularism' introduced in our Constitution? It was introduced by Indira Gandhi in the year 1976 and the Preamble was amended. French secularism defines going towards all religion giving equal respect to all religion. In India it is going away from all religions, because secularism is defined by different countries in different way. In India there is nothing called Hinduism, Hinduism is way of life, and it is absolutely philosophy. Would I treat a Muslim friend, a Christian friend in the same way? Yes, he should be treated in the same way in our country. You cannot differentiate, all are equal. This country has gone through a lot of churning. First there were the Mughals who brought their theory,
and later the British. The unfortunate part is that, whoever is debating about CAA, I feel they really do not understand what this country is. The word used here in CAA is 'religious persecution', so within the boundaries of the countries that were a geographical part of India, minorities who are being persecuted will be given citizenship. Yes, this is a start. Any law gets amended. I look at the future where any Indian who needs citizenship after a point of time is given one, be it Muslim, Christian, or Hindu. The problem is that there is no data. If there are Ahmadiyya Muslims being persecuted, we should see the data and debate in the parliament. I am only interested in looking at data, but nobody is talking about it. Noise has taken over data.
Q: Any sad moments you have come across?
A: Everytime when a child or youth dies in an accident I feel terrible. Other countries consider youth a premium, but in our country youths die every day in accidents. My heart pains when I see news of accidents. We are losing too many youths. I have a problem with youths involving in rowdy element activities or getting into drugs, as I am very passionate about youths.
Q: What is your next step? Will you start your political career in Tamil Nadu?
A: Another three or four months I will let life move on as it is now. I am leading a good life, travelling, less accountability. I believe that I can fit in somewhere. I want to live within our own value system. We have lived with one value system and I don't want change it for the sake of power politics and elections. I am looking to take a decision in the next three to four months. It does not necessarily have to be Tamil Nadu. In Tamil Nadu we have assembly elections in 2021. Tamil Nadu is also going through a phase and a lot of transformation is taking place at local level...Rajni is coming, Kamal is coming. So I have kept an open mind now. I will not become a politican for the sake of becoming a politician. The question is how we can make an impact.
Q: You have many young fans all over the world. You even visited Gulf countries where you have a huge fan following. Many youngsters treat you as their role model. What is your opinion about the current young generation, especially when WhatsApp university is strong?
A: Dangerous, extremely dangerous. From IIT to government colleges the biggest problem we have is attention deficit, and secondly, there is no ability to differentiate between truth, rumours and facts. Thirdly, if a news rotates a 100 times we think it is the truth. These three are a deadly cocktail. The politicians are using universities as the hub, to youth unite and mobilize them. It is time for politics to step back from universities, and political leaders speaking inside the university I think need to step back. University should be a place for freedom of debate and discussion, and study, and we have to come back as we do not have rights there. Same problem in Delhi, police go in daily and JNU loses its character.
I have a problem with JNU, whether it is right or wrong. There is subsidized fees, and government has pumped in so much money to make it a university of international repute. But half the time the university is on strike. There is a difference between democracy and dissent. If water bill is raised they want strike, if library bill is raised they go on strike. What is the purpose of university when there is so much of disruption? There are universities in in America, China... is there any such disruption? If you want to really make an issue, come out and do it. The student union is there to encourage healthy debate, not to take up rods and beat. Now all political leaders should step back, let all get into classrooms and start studying. Those students who have a craze to join politics, after studies come to road and do politics, but not in the universities.
We need to understand that with social media your mind can be manipulated. Social media is controlling your mind. As a student take the original text of CAA and read it, then listen to Ramachandra Guha, Congress, BJP, listen to everybody and make an independent opinion and stay with it, we respect you. Have an independent opinion, not necessarily forwarding whatever you read. These students will become citizens of India, and later become politicians, then where will our country lead to? I am really afraid of seeing how the whole drama gets enacted. Many student leaders have become worse than political leaders in terms of speeches they make. They are so provocative.
In Iranian there is a beautiful proverb: at the age of 20 you have to be a strong man, at the age of 30 you got to be a knowledgeable man, at the age of 40 you have to be a contented family man and at the age of 50 you have to be a wealthy man. These are life's stages according to the Iranian proverb. At 20 you should not try to be a wealthy man, at 30 and 40 you should not try to be a young man. Each life has got its stage of growth.
At the age of 25 you are supposed to be young and intelligent, do not get into anything beyond that. At the age of 20 do not do what a 45-year-old can do.
Q: Do you ever regret resigning from the police force?
A: No, because it was a well thought out decision. I am happy with my own den, but I am sad with the CAA protests where people were assaulted, people attacked police, and police were forced to defend themselves. I felt that better communication could have been made. People want leadership, and leadership has to be a demonstrable leadership like Mahatma Gandhi. When I look at the Delhi police issues I feel like maybe we are not creating those kind of leaders who are leading from the front, not leading emotionally. People have become more rational, even some police. We have to put your heart out and lead so men will give your best.
Watch full interview: