The ‘Field’ man in Khakhi: H.M. Jayaram, IPS
By Sanjay Pinto

It was not the proverbial silver spoon but the farmer’s plough that he had to contend with in his early years. The son of a farmer M.C. Madhiah and a homemaker Sarojamma, attending school in rural Karnataka was an adventure. It meant walking several kilometres to the bus stand and climbing atop the jampacked vehicle because there would be not even a toe hold inside. For a student who studied in Kannada medium right upto his Masters and M Phil in History from Bangalore University and who had made a trip Delhi for the first time only in ’92, on a Sleeper Class ticket by Karnataka Express, clearing the Civil Services Examination, first for a Group B Service and then the IPS in ’96, was no mean task. Jayaram is quick to point out that his grandparents are from Tamil Nadu and he considers himself to be a son of Tamil soil. “After all, my native Kugramam is just 10 kilometres away from Tamil Nadu near Anchetty.”

When you struggle to be where you are, it’s not unusual to want to steer clear of publicity. A simple google search of his name will prove that he has avoided the media glare throughout his career. So H.M. Jayaram’s first retort to an offer to be featured was “why me, I’m a humble man.” After a little coaxing, the Additional Commissioner of Police, Chennai North, opened up. Recalling his initial posting in Coimbatore as the Assistant Commissioner (Law & Order) after the serial bomb blasts that shook the textile city, he highlighted the importance of “quick mobilisation” and “maintaining a rapport with all stake holders” for effective policing. This has been his mantra right through his assignments as Superintendent of Police in Nammakal and Dharmapuri, with a stint at the Tamil Nadu Police Academy thrown in.

(Pic: H.M. Jayaram, IPS – Additional Commissioner of  Police, North Chennai)

When Ranges like Vellore, Coimbatore and Thanjavur came under his sway, Jayaram stuck to his core strategy of reaching the spot, instead of being ensconced in air conditioned cabins. When he was the Deputy Inspector General of Police – Vellore, a terrible road accident had taken place. A bus skidded off the road and burst into a ball of fire. Jayaram had to oversee the rescue and relief operations from ground zero.

With a cameo innings of 4 months in the Traffic Police, Jayaram remembers how signals were thrown out of gear after the 2015 deluge. “Restoring all those malfunctioning signals was a priority. Conducting awareness programmes for about 2500 MTC Bus Drivers and sensitisation modules for traffic constables count as my contribution” during his stint in the Chennai City Traffic Police.

City Policing, he confesses, is a different ball game. “Compared to districts, a small issue can flare up. We must always nip things in the bud and not allow them to escalate into something bigger. It is also easier to tackle matters in their nascent stage.” With sensitive areas like the Secretariat and High Court under his jurisdiction, Jayaram feels he needs to be on his toes 24 hours. “We have a dynamic and tech savvy Commissioner who has an interactive whatsapp group for immediate and effective action at all levels.” The social media is a tool that Jayaram is happy to use to not just issue directions but also follow up on cases. “I don’t merely forward messages to my Joint Commissioners or Deputy Commissioners but also call the subordinate officers directly. You see they are usually the first responders.” While he clarifies that his immediate subordinates also monitor action taken, isolated instances of things slipping through the cracks and personnel at the cutting edge in police stations missing out on instructions, cannot be ruled out. It’s not micro management but closely supervised delegation.  “I also ask the Control Room to monitor the presence of field officers.” Another vital aspect of city policing, is the need for accurate “forecasts” to place the force ahead of an impending issue.

A besotted husband of homemaker Lakshmi, who holds a post graduate degree in Kannada literature and a doting dad of  J. Harshita, who is completing Engineering and J. Amrutha, a Class XI avid debater, Jayaram loves family time and outings. Reaching the top echelons of the uniformed service in Chennai from the fields of rural Karnataka, could not have been possible without divine support. In keeping with that acknowledgement, temple hopping is this top cop’s hobby. When he slips into his police boots again, work is worship. 

(Sanjay Pinto is an Advocate practising at the Madras High Court, a Columnist, Author, TV Political Analyst, Public Speaking Mentor & Former Resident Editor – NDTV 24×7)