You can break the glass to activate a fire alarm. Braj Kishore Ravi is going a step further to shatter the glass ceiling! If you’ve watched Gabriela Dawson, Sylvie Bret and Stella Kidd battling many a blaze and saving lives, alongside their male counterparts in the television serial ‘Chicago Fire’, you may have probably wondered why women are not fire fighters in our part of the world.
After occupying the hot seat as the Director of Fire & Rescue Services in Tamil Nadu, this 1989 batch IPS officer was determined to ‘douse’ inequality and ‘ignite’ the flame of empowerment, instead of just crying ‘hose’ on Women’s Day. “It was surprising to note that we have 22 lady officers working as Station Officers up to the Joint Director level but no women fire fighters.” The Director General of Police rank officer discussed the issue with Chief Minister M.K.Stalin who gave him the green signal as “gender equality should encompass all fields.”
The corridors of power were not alien to a young B.K. Ravi from Bihar. The son of a freedom fighter Late T.M. Ram, former M.L.A and three-time Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha) from 1962 to 1977 and Chandrakala Devi, a home-maker, the lure of the uniform gripped him at a formative age. A Gold Medal in Sociology Hons. from the University of Patna, a scholarship and a junior research fellowship from the Delhi School of Economics during his Masters in Sociology and Master of Philosophy respectively, set the stage for the Civil Services Examination grind, where the IPS was predictably his first choice. Interestingly, his brother S.K.Ranjan also dons the khakhi uniform as an SP rank officer in the Bihar Police, while another sibling R.K.Raju is a doctor.
Right from his maiden posting as Assistant Superintendent of Police – Paramakudi and early stints as Assistant Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of Police (Law & Order) Madurai to his district leadership in Thanjavur and Virudhunagar, Ravi was known for his strict policing.
After a memorable United Nations Peace Keeping Mission in Bosnia & Herzegovina in the late nineties, the dapper top cop had a fairly long innings on Central Deputation for a decade. Serving the Ministry of Home Affairs with the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) in different capacities – as Commandant of CISF with BHEL in Bhopal, Assistant Inspector General of Police (Administration & Personnel) and Deputy Inspector General of Police (Induction, Policy & Fire) at the Headquarters in New Delhi. These assignments involved “deployment of commandos in 36 airports” across India.
The next 5 year deputation stint was with the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas as Advisor – Security in Indian Oil Corporation. “Preparing and drafting Security Manuals incorporating the latest technological advancements, surveying of all units such as refineries, oil depots and gas filling stations and drawing up a new security protocol” was his contribution towards “enhancing the security preparedness of IOCL installations.”
Sandwiched between these outstation assignments were law and order postings as Deputy Inspector General of Police – Madurai, Commissioner of Police – Tirunelveli, followed by man management roles as Inspector General and Additional Director General of Police – Home Guards. In his previous avatar as Director General of Police – Vigilance, Tamil Nadu Generation & Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO) he introduced “intensive mass raids by the enforcement wing”. This led to detection of many electricity theft cases, misuse of meters & tariff.
Pictures gleaned from Ravi’s facebook timeline will reveal his fascination for travel and adventure for “solitude” and a sense of “ground realities” which help him “understand how things are at the unit level.”
Behind the mutton chop style moustache, lies a “reserved” officer who does not fight shy of his tagline: “I am more than what you see.” A single parent, the apple of Ravi’s eye is Anikesh Kishor, who is a visual story teller and film professional with a command over production, direction, cinematography and editing. The real climax will lie in junior making a ‘Chennai Fire Fighter’ series to perpetuate his dad’s legacy. The crime-buster deserves a blockbuster!
(Sanjay Pinto is an Advocate practising at the Madras High Court, Arbitrator, Columnist, Author & Former Resident Editor of NDTV 24×7)