The only piece of ‘uniform’ that this top cop likes to have on always is his thinking cap. From it has emanated award winning innovative concepts in policing. Dr.Prateep V.Philip, Additional Director General Of Police (Economic Offences Wing) Tamil Nadu, does not quite fancy the blue light atop his car or the star plate and police flag. Neither are the epaulettes, chips on his shoulder. The 1987 batch Indian Police Service Officer wasn’t even in love with khakhi before he joined the service. The travel bug egged him on to set his sights on the Indian Foreign Service. Two cracks at the exam, post a stint with State Bank Of India and he gave in to God’s will. Filled with idealism, the young IPS probationer began to view the uniformed service as a perfect amalgam of a “calling with an honour.”
I first ran into Prateep at the Cricket Stadium in Chepauk during an India-Pakistan match in the nineties that I was covering for NDTV. The salutes he received at the stands were the only signs of ‘authority’. Otherwise, given our little chat, I would have easily taken him for a Professor of English or a Shiv Khera sort of motivational speaker! But don’t misconstrue his suave approach as a lack of toughness. His 27 year police career so far has been more than eventful and includes a miraculous escape from the jaws of death. Prateep was duty during that fateful night at a Public Meeting of Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in Sriperumbudur and only remembers collapsing when the blast went off. The steel pellets that he still carries in his body, he says, are a reminder of that terrible night and the second lease of life God gave him.
There is no such thing as a ‘punishment posting’ in Prateep’s lexicon. Post him anywhere and he will come up with something novel. In one of his 4 district assignments as Superintendent of Police, Prateep hit upon the idea of “sharing power with ordinary citizens taking off from our Preamble to the Constitution ‘We The People’. This was how the ‘Friends Of Police’ movement was born in Tamil Nadu in 1993. As a young SP, he remembers making a presentation of his brainchild at the Chief Minister’s Conference. Known for her support to proactive policing, Prateep recalls Chief Minister Jayalalithaa passing a GO extending this scheme to bridge the Police-Public gap to the whole of Tamil Nadu in the summer of ’94. If that was the “cornerstone” of this initiative, international recognition followed in the form of the Queen’s Award For Innovation In Police Training & Development. The award in 2002 came with a corpus fund of close to 11 lakh rupees which went into the setting up of a Multi Media Training & Documentation Centre in which more than a lakh personnel and citizens have been coached in community policing through 188 annual workshops in all the districts of the State.
For a decade and a half, while covering the men in khakhi on national television, I have often been fascinated by his approach to policing. As DIG Intelligence, he was involved in monitoring the movements of forest brigand Veerappan. As the DIG of Tirunelveli, then quite a hotbed of violence, Law & Order was certainly not a routine task. As the Principal of the Police Training College, he did his bit to impress upon the probationers the need to use their “wits and not their fists” while interrogating suspects. As the IG – Social Justice, he organised a tea party roping in road side tea stall vendors to break the social stigma among caste groups that had led to the 2 tumbler system in certain pockets of Tamil Nadu. In his present avatar as the ADGP (EOW) Prateep, who is active on the social media, not just to propogate his pet topics like ‘Equilibrium Thinking’ & ‘Exenomics’ – “tools for self renewal and to reinvent management” or his copyrighted motivational one liners – “fillipisms” but to also fight crime. The Economic Offences Wing is meant to safeguard the rights of gullible investors who are often led up the garden path and duped by fly by night finance companies. Instead of merely prosecuting these unscruplous elements, Prateep has created a group called “Scam Busters’ on facebook to create awareness among the public. How? “ We have formed committees comprising financially savvy professionals to indentify tainted investments and organisations to prevent the common man from being lured by them. It’s not just online. Our 340 members conduct public meetings across the State to spread the word.” The Idol Wing under Prateep’s watch, recently busted a big racket with the arrest of international kingpin Subash Kapoor.
A highly decorated officer, Prateep is the recipient of the Prime Minister’s Medal for Meritorious Service in 2003 and the President’s Medal for Distinguished Service in 2012. “Had I not joined the IPS, I may have become a lawyer.” That’s an ambition his elder daughter Nimisha has fulfilled by getting into a Law Course at the London University. Not the party hopping kind, Prateep makes it a point to spend quality time with his younger daughter Nishala, a student at Sishya and his interior designer wife Sakhi. When he isn’t delivering motivational lectures, Prateep unwinds by writing. “Journalism was another career option. As a student of St.Joseph’s College in Bangalore, I used to write ‘Middles’ in the Times Of India, Deccan Herald and the Indian Express.” As I called him for this telephonic interview, Prateep was busy giving finishing touches to the launch of his upcoming third book “For Better Through Verse” – a work on leadership and management principles from the Bible, published by Covenant Media.
We often lament that the bureaucracy which Sardar Vallabhai Patel called the ‘Steel Frame Of India’ can do with more officers with nerves of steel. Here’s one who literally has steel in his body. Does that qualify as a ‘fillipism’?
(Sanjay Pinto is a Lawyer, Columnist, Author & Former Resident Editor – NDTV 24×7)