Book Review – Stepping Beyond Khaki

I am not so sure if I should put this under the “book review” category. This is a life review by an ex-supercop of his life spent wearing the “Khaki” uniform. Mr. Annamalai is a real life hero, not a screen paper tiger. The book deals with his life as an officer of the Indian police force.

Stepping Beyond Khaki

This young man is totally sorted ! I love the clarity he has, even as he embarks on his political journey as a BJP candidate. The book beautifully brings out how he made several decisions that brought him to this stage. His journey from a small village to getting an MBA from IIM and becoming an IPS officer gave me goosebumps. His story is the story of new India. A young India that doesn’t accept any barricades on its way towards success.

This statement in the initial few pages got me hooked –

“…For me, the realisation of ‘what I shouldn’t do’ came ahead of ‘what I should do’. It was very clear to me that working in a software company or in any other corporate set-up was out of the question.”

A few excerpts that tell us a little more about how Annamalai became an IPS officer.

The National Police Academy and LBSNAA

“..The National Police Academy (NPA), named after one of India’s most illustrious sons and its iron man, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, is located in Hyderabad. Spread over a sprawling 300 acres, it is at once an imposing and venerable institution.”

“…I learned a very important lesson about risk that day. I was afraid to jump in the first instance because of the fear of death. That was the single biggest obstacle—the fear of the unknown—that I realised didn’t allow us to truly be ourselves.”

“…The Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA) located in the beautiful Mussoorie, Uttarkhand, is where the combined training of IAS, IPS and IFS is conducted. Initially, all of the All India and Group A Services used to be together and due to the paucity of space, it’s been restricted to three services now.

I was humbled when on FC’s graduation day, I was chosen to receive ‘Sangay Lhaden Shenga-Esprit de Corps’ and ‘1968 Batch Silver Jubilee Esprit de Corps Gold Medal’. Both of these awards are normally awarded to the probationer who has shown exemplary leadership during this combined training. Unlike other awards, this is voted on by the probationers themselves on a secret ballot.”

The Demographic dividend or ?

“….India is a country that is sitting on a powder keg of youths—economists might choose to call this a demographic dividend. Whether this turns out to be a demographic disaster purely depends on the country’s will and its ultimate success in making all of these youths gainfully employed.”

Well, now he has a chance to play a bigger role in making sure our youth are our demographic dividend !

The Man in Khaki is a Psychologist !

“.. A trained crime fighter, by virtue of talking to a huge number of people in his career, understands the psyche of human beings quite well. He can give psychologists a run for their money in his understanding of human behaviour. He can easily point out who is lying and who is hiding information most times.”

And much later in the book, Annamalai proves to be a psychologist and a philosopher with these statements peppered across the book –

“..I had, for some time, seen and believed that a country like India continued to thrive on three contradicting facets—eighteenth century laws, nineteenth century mindset and twenty-first century aspirations. Inside this maze is where our policemen reside.”

“.. Not only do the important moments but even some simple moments need inaction. We need not always be hyper charged and crave for action.”

“.. Many of us have made our lives too complicated. Like Nelson Mandela in his book Long Walk to Freedom, memorably said, ‘As I waled out of the door (of my prison cell) to the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I would still be in prison.’…. Let us try and come out of our self-imposed jails and live our life fully.”

If this ain’t a philosopher then who is ??

Stepping Beyond Khaki

Act 2 of Annamalai, as a politician is going to be more difficult than Act 1 as a policeman. We don’t know if he will win the elections that are scheduled for April 6th, but he will one day be the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. That’s my prediction and so far whatever I have predicted about random celebrities has come true. I have never met Annamalai, but his book makes me feel that I know him.

This book is honest as is the author. This is a sensitive, intelligent, authentic human being trying to change the world into a better place. Annamalai is in politics with a purpose and a clean heart, so more power to him and his kind.

Closing with the words he has used to close the book –

“It all starts with changing our belief systems, generating courage to take on the mighty forces that are deep rooted, leading our lives with purpose and finally, understanding that the system is nothing but US – only you and me.

When we change, the system changes and when we lead, the country progresses.”

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