While the rest of his classmates were probably playing book cricket, this Class VIII school boy used to do something very different. He would scribble on his notebook: “M.Ravi, IPS”. A voracious reader of detective novels, playing the former in the cop-robber game was a childhood passion that endured. And would become his profession one day. But that passion was not born out of desperation for a job. After graduating in the early eighties from the Agricultural College in Madurai, this young topper had collared a fellowship from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research that gave him a grant of five thousand rupees per annum and a stipend of eight hundred rupees a month. “I heard that the basic salary of an IAS Officer at the time was only seven hundred rupees a month!” After his post graduation, a bank job beckoned and Ravi was posted as a Probationary Officer in Syndicate Bank in Thiruvananthapuram and later transferred to Delhi. In the next five years, a childhood dream to be an IPS Officer took shape.
Ravi had a great cook – Bagyam from Sivaganga. The aroma of his fare was a draw for 9 friends from Tamil Nadu who stayed with him as they prepared for the gruelling Civil Services Examination. All of them got into the services – IAS, IPS and IRS. “They passed out of my home”, Ravi reminiscences. And that gave his efforts to crack the exam a big impetus. In ‘87, Ravi went right up to the Interview but managed only 110 out of 250 marks, which like a game of snakes and ladders pulled him down. Then came many twists and turns. “I had already reached the age limit of 26 years.” The less glamorous DSP recruitment through the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission was also not an option. “I was not elligible as I was professionally qualified” and only Arts and Science graduates could apply. The fighter that he was even in his formative years, Ravi wanted to challenge these restrictions in Court. Just then the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) raised the upper age limit to 28 years. “Unfortunately, I was 28 years and 1 month!” In 1990, Prime Minister V.P.Singh raised the upper age limit even further – to 31 years. “That year, I was among the three and a half lakh candidates who wrote the exam.” Ravi stormed into the 1991 batch of the IPS.
An officer of action, Ravi served as Superintendent of Police of four districts for seven and a half years, with a highlight in each posting. As SP Nagapattinam, he arrested the accused in the sensational parcel bomb case. In villupuram, known for caste clashes between Vanniyars and Dalits, he tried hard to maintain peace. An official visit to Singapore as part of the UNDP Programme led to model police stations and the enlisting of forty thousand police volunteers. “We used to send decoy complainants to police stations to check if they were being treated properly. “I felt that we needed to move from a sentry to a receptionist, from a salute to a simple welcome. It’s what I called the Airhostess approach.” As the SP Railways, Ravi busted the ‘Biscuit Bandits’ on trains with the arrest of the kingpin – Tapas Mandal from West Bengal. “The modus operandi used to be clever. The first biscuit would be normal, which the gangsters would eat in front of passengers and offer the remaining laced with sedatives to their gullible fellow travellers. When the passengers would fall asleep, the gang would steal their belongings.” On his promotion as Deputy Inspector General of Police in 2005, Ravi, posted in Dindigul, arrested “an Inspector and Sub Inspector from the Narcotics Intelligence Bureau who were running an extortion racket, posing as CBI officers.”
Away from the districts, Ravi has had his share of city postings – as Deputy Commissioner of Police – Traffic, North Chennai, Joint Commissioner of Police, North Chennai, Additional Commissioner of Police, Headquarters, Chennai and Additional Commissioner of Police, Traffic, Chennai. These stints saw many initiatives like e-challans for traffic violations, encounters, video piracy raids, investigation into the Gold Quest scam and even zeroing in on a much married man – Liaquat Ali, who had duped many unsuspecting young women. And some cases that he would “rather not recall.” Throughout his career, Ravi says he has “always helped petitioners and also my subordinate officers.”
Now posted as the Inspector General of Police\Chief Vigilance Officer of Aavin, Ravi has a lot more time on his hands for his regular badminton matches. Having played with him at the IPS Officers Mess, I can vouch for the raw power of his smashes! .
I was a ball badminton champion in school and took up shuttle during my training at the National Police Academy. I make it a point to play thrice a week and our team from Tamil Nadu has been consistently winning all India tournaments.” That’s not all. Pumping weights at his gym five days a week has been a ritual for many years and the secret behind his 6 Pack! “I love cooking and even listed it as a hobby in my UPSC form. When they asked me about it, I quipped that I wouldn’t eat what I cook!”
You can’t ask for a better person to write a book “Stay Fit, One Life” that is awaiting publication. Even if he doesn’t eat what he cooks, Ravi certainly practices what he preaches.
The rippling muscles bear testimony to his strict diet. If his biceps don’t give you the heebie jeebies, wait till you hear what he is now learning – Boxing!
One look at his facebook page and you will discover that for all his focus on his physique, Ravi is a family man – an affectionate husband to Deivam, a home maker and fashion designer and a doting dad to Ananya, who post her Engineering degree is off to the University of California for an MS and Idhalya, into her second year of Medicine. “After all, your own fitness is a gift you can give your family.”
The inspiration for body building probably comes from the action movies he loves watching. Certainly not from the books he reads on spiritualism! Endowed with a good sense of humour, here is one officer who loves planning. For all you know, the future may well catapult ‘M.Ravi, IPS’ from the pages of school note books to text books!
Sanjay Pinto is a Lawyer, Columnist, Author, Public Speaking Mentor & Former Resident Editor – NDTV 24×7.