Decorated IPS officer Atul Kulkarni talks about his decision to work for the disadvantaged sections of society and how he plans to establish a connect with the masses and bring about a positive impact. Excerpts:
There are incidents that change one’s life forever and this is true more so for those who are civil servants and work day-and-night for the benefit of the needy and the downtrodden.
Such has been the case with one of the most decorated IPS officers Atul Kulkarni who is currently posted in Thane. He calls his decision to work for the disadvantaged sections of society as the harbinger of change in his life.
In his initial days with Mindtree, he came in contact with several NGOs and began to volunteer during the weekends in Bengaluru.
There was a constant dilemma — whether to take up a lucrative job offer in the USA with a software company, pursue higher studies, prepare for CSE or join a professional social sciences college which would give a solid foundation for the civil services.
Finally, he joined the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, in 2010 with a course on Urban Policy and Governance.
It was a wonderful journey in TISS. He had good teachers and also got exposed to the ground realities during his field visits to slums and came face-to-face with the homeless and the deprived and their problems regarding water, sanitation, poverty that had a huge impact on him.
There were women who indulged in high-pitched battles for a bucket of water and there were hundreds who went hungry every night so that their children could have food. The irony was that though these women did not have the resources to even bring up one child properly; they gave birth to three or four. They get molested and raped at a tender age and often have to give birth to the child with not much option to explore. Social apathy and poverty drive them into a vicious cycle of acceptance and rejection with which they live on for the rest of their lives.
Kulkarni’s visits to Chhattisgarh’s Baiga tribe were an eye-opener for him. They used to majorly depend on forest products and increasingly on agriculture. After deforestation, natural resources depleted, creating a crisis for the tribe. Illiteracy, hunger, malnutrition, diseases and helplessness made them weaker and more vulnerable. They also faced acute water shortage and there were high mortality rates among children.
He also visited areas around Dharwad, Karnataka, where the water had high levels nitrate, fluoride, TDS and bacterial contamination. In many families, children we born with a deformity and I felt pathetic about it.
Such events became a routine and they shook his sub-conscious mind, forcing him to become a responsible citizen and motivated to work for the larger good of society.
Kulkarni has also been involved in field visits which have brought him in contact with people living in miserable conditions.
Being a social science student, he believed that creative and good initiatives could change the lives of the weaker sections of society.
There is a palpable fear about the police in the minds of the common man. Kulkarni, in his attempts to remove such inhibitions, meets a large number of people regularly.
Several kinds of cases require his interference. One of the most common is that of domestic violence of women.
He feels women rarely complain due to the lack of support from their parents, poor financial conditions, the responsibility of children, daily survival struggles and the like. A separate cell like the “Women/Bharosa Cell” has been started to deal with grievances of women and juveniles under the guidance of Special IG, Konkan Range and SP, Thane, Rural, especially to deal with petty complaints, such as squabbles over parking or children’s play areas, family disputes and other issues related to women.
The counselling team includes advocates, doctors, social workers and women police officers/senior police inspectors. On average, the cell receives 12-15 cases per week. It is important to mention that out of the 400 cases that have been received so far, almost 80 percent have been resolved.
The main motto of the Cell is to reduce the gap between the police and public, to hear people out who are not able to approach the court for some reason and reduce the judiciary’s burden.
The Thane (Rural) police have initiated the ‘Police Kaka’ (police uncle) scheme aimed at bridging the communication gap and to respond and resolve issues faced by students in schools and colleges of the city.
Under the scheme, personnel from the level of a Constable to the Senior Police Inspector and even the Deputy SP are assigned as ‘Police Kaka’ for one educational institution in their respective jurisdiction. Similarly, one female personnel is shortlisted to handle the task of ‘Police Didi’ for each of the schools and colleges to establish a friendly rapport with the girls.
The Police Didis are assigned to keep a close eye on any type of illegal activities in their respective areas, especially around the educational institutions. The dedicated Police Kakas and Police Didis who will basically play the role of ‘buddy cops’ for students will visit the educational premises on a regular basis and share his or her phone number along with the name and designation will be displayed on the notice boards of the educational campuses.”. Students can share their complaints like ragging, bullying, eve-teasing, and stalking.
Drug abuse in India is a complex phenomenon, which has various social, cultural, biological, geographical, historical and economic aspects. The disintegration of the joint family system, absence of parental love and care in modern families with both parents working, a decline of religious and moral values etc have to lead to a rise in the number of drug addicts.
Thane Rural Police has always been a step ahead in reaching out to the citizens of Mira-Bhayander through various drives.
One such campaign was the ‘Drug Awareness Campaign’ launched by Thane Rural Police in association with youth NGO Bless Foundation at various junctions on Mira Road and Bhayander from February 12-18, 2019.
School children were made to take an oath that they would never touch drugs. Hundreds of people joined this rally.
On February 13, the drive took place near Mira Road station under Kulkarni, Mira Road DYSP ShantaramValvi and Naya Nagar PI Pradeep Kasbe and the Naya Nagar police team.
DYSP Valvi and Naya Nagar police team, some local corporators and television celebrities were present for this campaign at Naya Nagar.
The top three reasons for first-time consumption of drugs are peer pressure (30%), personal pleasure (28%) and curiosity (26%).
Nuclear families have the highest number of drug addicts (70%) followed by broken homes (12%) and joint families (11%).