This is the story of Pratap R. Dighavkar, the Additional Commissioner of Mumbai Police, in his own words. He spoke with Humans of Bombay recently and shared how he was very passionate about serving in the government and how he became an IPS officer after starting off as a farmer.
Here is what he said:
"I was born in a small village called Litania near Nashik. We had only one primary school in our village and the only available profession for men was farming, but since I was young, I wanted to be a part of the government. It was actually a really funny incident. Once, when I was young and I saw an aeroplane in the sky, I asked my mother who owned those planes, and she randomly said ‘the government’, and since then that's what I wanted to be a part of. I used to study night and day, and stood first in the SSC board exams. After that, I got into college, which was 23 kilometres away for me, but I didn’t miss a day. Despite getting 86 percent, I lost admission at the only college we had in our village by one mark, and that’s when my father told me that it was time for me to give up studying and become a farmer.
At the age of 16, I was a full-fledged farmer, but because of a dispute with my dad, I decided to revisit my dream of studying further. I borrowed Rs 350 from my mother and enrolled myself in a distance learning programme. While I was still working hard on the field, I was studying night after night to get my degree. At 18, I had completed my graduation for a total amount of Rs 1,250, and I had cleared my Police Service exam and the combined defence exam as well. In 1987, at the age of 22, I was selected for the post of Assistant Commissioner, it was the happiest day of my life."
The Additional Commissioner also recalled how even after he became the Assistant Commissioner, he never stopped studying. He remembers the 1993 bomb blast as his biggest case, when he and his team worked for 18 hours daily. He adds,
"In 2000, I became an IPS officer. From being a farmer and spending not a rupee over 1,250, I became an IPS officer. I’ve built schools in my village, set up a dream housing society for 10,000 constables and spoken at the United Nations, all because I had a dream. Receiving the Vanshree award and Indira Priyadarshini award made me feel overwhelmed. Pursuing a commando course in the US was altogether a lifetime experience.
So many times people complain about policemen, but what they don’t realise is that we’re doing our job. We give up spending time at our own homes and celebrate every festival on the street. We’re on call 24/7 and nothing comes above our duty. I still remember when it was my brother-in-law’s wedding and I was on my way there when I got a call to come in, I left that second. It has been an honour to serve the people all these years, and I’ll continue to do so. My only message would be to chase that dream with so much passion, that there’s no other choice but for it to come true, and it does...I'm the living proof of that."
With plenty of negative activity in the air these days in the race to get ahead, Pratap's amazing story is something we all need to take inspiration from.