If not an immortal sin, it is indeed not a meritorious point for a journalist when she/he loses the notes of an interview. But thankfully, you don’t forget what the interviewee said because all that this IPS woman officer spoke was absolute no-nonsense.
In a telephonic interview that lasted about 20 minutes, Chaitra Teresa John, the latest IPS officer addition to the Kerala police, did not attempt to make any boastful claims on what she would do for the state once she takes charge. Most of her answers ended in one or two sentences, to the point.
While the young officer from Kozhikode candidly admits that she has not drawn a plan for herself at work, we feel that whiff of confidence in her.
After all, we have with us an officer who won not just one, but two top honors from the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy, Hyderabad - the best all-round lady probationer and best lady probationer outdoor. She was the first Keralite woman to win this feat. She was also the only woman to win two trophies from the academy.
Even then, she had to face the now overdone question of how she would be dealing with the gender inequality issues in Kerala, being a woman police officer. Chaitra does not go for rosy promises but has a pragmatic answer: “I don’t know yet where I will be posted or what role I will be given. My priority would be putting my best foot forward, whatever the position be. My approach will be the same if it involves gender sensitization,” she told Onmanorama.
"I am very well aware that society in Kerala is a patriarchal one. Naturally, this is reflective in my workplace too as men comprise a majority of the force. But I am sure I can stand on my own there," she added.
It is in her fifth attempt in the civil service exam that Chaitra got picked to IPS. In 2012, she was ranked 550th to get into Indian Railway Traffic Service (IRTS). In 2013, she did not even go beyond the prelims. But she worked hard and got the 111th rank in the 2015 exam and interview, her third interview in five years. Her first option was IAS and second option IPS. Given her rank, she was offered IPS and she was more than happy to take it.
While joining the police academy, Chaitra was unsure about how she would fare at the physical training. "Before attempting certain outdoor drills, I was doubtful about myself. But my trainers were very supportive and so were my batch-mates. I did not expect myself to win the best outdoor probationer award. But yes, everything worked out right for me," the officer said.
Before Chaitra, only three other IPS officers had made it big at the National Police Academy before joining Kerala police – former state police chiefs K.J. Joseph (best probationer, 1969), Jacob Punnoose (best probationer, 1975) and current vigilance director Jacob Thomas (best outdoor probationer, 1985).
Chaitra joined the Kerala cadre in December and is at present posted in Kottayam as assistant superintendent of police (ASP). She will be in the district till July. In the last three months of her training in Kottayam, she will be given independent charge of a police station.
By this month end, she will be informed about her posting in the Kerala police. Chaitra sure is ready for the task, come what may.