Mumbai: Of policing, patriotism and some poetry

Updated: Aug 28, 2019, 07:53 IST | Hemal Ashar | Mumbai

Mumbai Police Commissioner Sanjay Barve engages young audience in a peppy, interactive session

Sanjay Barve (right) with Julio Ribeiro at the event at Lala Lajpatrai College yesterday. Pic/ Bipin Kokate
Sanjay Barve (right) with Julio Ribeiro at the event at Lala Lajpatrai College yesterday. Pic/ Bipin Kokate

Mumai Police Commissioner Sanjay Barve engaged a packed auditorium at an event called, 'Partnering Youth for a Better Tomorrow,' in association with Lala Lapatrai College and National Service Scheme (NSS) at the institute's auditorium on Tuesday morning. The session, which was arranged by Mumbai's non-profit Public Concern for Governance Trust (PCGT) began with former police commissioner, the legendary Julio Ribeiro saying to laughs, "My name is Julio Ribeiro. I used to be Commissioner of Police more than 35 years ago, which is ancient for you all."

Jt. Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Madhukar Pandey outlined the challenge for Mumbai traffic wise when he said, "Mumbai local trains carry 75 lakh commuters per day, which is more than the population of Norway. We have approximately 26 lakh BEST passengers. We are the highest vehicle dense city in the world too, maybe just after Dhaka."

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When Barve, the man in the hot seat for Mumbai, got up to speak, he began with, "How's the josh?" the audience roared back, "High Sir." Barve's speech was replete with history. Barve explained, "In the 1960s we were the receivers of aid and food, today we are the givers. In the late 1980s and the early 1990s, India had the ignominy of having to pledge its gold to the Bank of England. Today, we have huge foreign exchange reserves and these are growing. This is our leap in 70 years. Every single person has contributed to its growth. India is unstoppable now."

Then Barve, a language student, also quoted Winston Churchill on how it is vital to know history. "A nation that forgets its past has no future," he said to a rapt audience.

The cop went from philosophical to prosaic telling students that to observe traffic rules is, "a kind of patriotism. Today, we do not have to go to fight the British to prove our patriotism. Help an elderly person cross the road, that is patriotism."

Students threw questions at him about exorbitant fines for breaking traffic rules. "These are not a source of revenue for the government, but a deterrent to breaking the law," he clarified. A question about pressure and transfer of honest police officers as a punishment posting was met with cheers and got a huge applause.
"This does not happen. If you are a soft cushion, people will pressurize you, but if you are a hard nut, people will not," Barve said. He added that, "We will see change in the way Mumbai commutes, with the Metro and Coastal Road, especially the former, within three years time."

A question about why police hesitate to take action against politicians was met with applause. Barve said, "Filing charges is one thing, proving them is another. You are seeing that politicians who have broken the law are being jailed. It is about equality now." The officer said, "Power is never permanent." He then quoted poet James Shirley... "Sceptre and Crown must tumble down, and in the dust be equal made..." One hour was up and Mumbai's first amongst equals in the police force, Barve returned to his seat, proving policing is policing and poetry is poetry and sometimes, the twain doth meet.

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