Those who plan to get employed in the Union Government’s Foreign, Administrative, Police, Revenue, Railway, Information Services – or their state government equivalents should remember the following:
[During the colonial period, the British created four levels of recruitment. For the sake of convenience – the police department’s example is being provided.]
- The ordinary constable [from what they called native stock] to tackle the general public at the cut-off point of physical daily contact.
- The sub-inspector [sometimes referred to as Station House Officer] who always served within the Provincial Service [akin to any state public service commission’ junior level officer recruitment]. Such JCOs drawn from simple “native middle class stock” needed to be in possession of command over written and spoken English besides 2 local languages, touch typing [typing without looking at the keyboard to locate the letters with nine fingers] and shorthand diploma, and most importantly, the candidate’s possession of a secondary school leaving [SSL] certificate. The then training used to inculcate the system of ‘obeying orders of all superiors without question’ right from the outset.
- The Provincial Service Norm [akin to the post of a state public service commission recruited officer in the grade of DySP] used to have a catchment area comprising local princely families or those with Zamindar Titles like Rao Bahadur, Diwan Bahadur, blah, blah.
- The Union Public Service Norm [those days – IP – akin to today’s IPS] would 99.99 times out of hundred comprise white men who alone would rise to the post of Inspector General of Police.
One does not need to be the reincarnation of Sherlock Holmes to know that this was one of the cleverest methods to divide and rule controlling the momentum of the ruled to the rulers’ advantage and design by a mere practical application of the word ‘discipline’.
That such a system kept us under the white man’s thumb for over 200 years is something most of us know.
But, at that time, there were officers who bucked the trend yet followed ‘discipline’ earning the respect of their ‘superiors’ and admiration from their subordinates.
Mr Parangusam Naidu, the only Native to be Commissioner of Police for the city of Madras [1919-1919, says the board at the city police HQ, Egmore] and later IG for the entire Madras Province was one such officer.
Reproduced hereunder is a report that appeared in 5PM – an evening paper published from The Indian Express stable in Madras, September 4 1980 under the heading.
Whites Had to salute tough Parangusam
His name figures in a list hung in the City Police Commissioner’s Office in Egmore, Chennai. And to him goes the credit of having been the only Indian Police Commissioner of Madras Province during the British regime.
This man, Mr Parangusam Naidu, ironically enough, was not at all prepared to become a police officer. His application was in fact forged and sent by his grandfather’s younger brother, a big wig then in the ‘native’ section of the police in 1888.
At that time, the 19-year-old Parangusam was serving as an overseer in the PWD, threw a tantrum, but had to give in to his father’s wishes [and become a police officer].
Initially, he served under SP Brook Legget as SHO [Station House Officer] in Mayuram [now Myladuthurai]. Legget took a fancy for the boy and soon made him the Division Inspector after four years. And before he retired, he got Naidu his second promotion as DySP in Eluru (now in Andhra Pradesh).
The then Police Commissioner Mr F Armitage was looking out for an efficient Assistant Commissioner at that time. Hearing about Naidu, he offered him the job.
And history was made.
Parangusam Naidu became the first ‘native’ Assistant Commissioner.
Luck favoured him again later when Charles Cunningham [knighted later] went on leave.
Almost immediately after joining as the ACP, Naidu was posted as the Deputy Commissioner, Northern Range.
History again but not without the usual furore in the English circles …
But, Armitage, who had by then become IG, with the support of influential personalities like Sir Sivaswami Iyer, Sir Arthur Stuart (then Chief Secretary and later Governor) stood firm.
Finally, the time came for his appointment as Commissioner on the basis of seniority. This again was a tricky situation. But then, Sir C.P. Ramaswamy Iyer, a Privy Council member, gathered the much needed support and strengthened Armitage’s hands.
It was indeed an uncommon sight to see the sturdily built Englishmen with their gloves, boots and all, standing in attention and saluting a ‘native’ Commissioner.
One Inspector Hitchcock had the audacity of not doing so. Although Parangusam overlooked it, Armitage slapped a suspension order in the offender’s face forcing him to mend his ways.
However, Hitchcock became one of the strongest supporters of Naidu.
Parangusam also had to face a powerful racist lobby, which almost succeeded in getting him displaced by securing a transfer for him.
His opponents temporarily won as he accepted his fate and bided his time working as Deputy Commissioner.
Efficiency eventually triumphed. After a gap of 8 weeks, Naidu was back at Egmore Headquarters [as CoP]. That was not all. Almost immediately afterwards, the Duke of Connaught’s visit gave his opponents a good opportunity. They again tried to get him transferred to Vellore.
But, Parangusam fought his battle alone saying he would either receive the Duke or resign. And he made history again.
Parangusam is said to have always kept in touch with 10 influential persons in each section under his control and visit at least three of them apart from inspecting a station a day. Thus, neither the acts of omission on the part of officials nor the secrecy of criminals could escape his attention.
Once the showroom of m/s P. Orr & Sons in Mount Rd [now Anna Salai] – the shop still exists [under a different management] was burgled and almost the entire shop was cleaned up. Naidu who was tipped off about the identity of the culprits within a few minutes of the crime, being committed, rang up Mr Renes Pillai of Flower Bazar police station (the entire Mount Road was then under FBPS jurisdiction) and asked him to go the military barracks at St Thomas Mount and recover the stolen material from the British soldiers billeted there.
Pillai applied for ‘sick’ leave fearing violence.
Undaunted, Parangusam telephoned the Brigadier in charge of the soldiers and told him that he was sending his officer to recover the stolen property from his men.
The Brigadier reportedly threatened him with dismissal and imprisonment if the charge was unproved.
Naidu told him he was not afraid of being shot, let alone being imprisoned.
Renes was forced to go [and execute the search warrant issued by the Executive Magistrate and CoP – Naidu].
Under Naidu’s pressure, the erring soldiers were court martialled.
The ‘crowning’ event in Naidu’s life was the Prince of Wales visit.
All the officers were required to be present at a formal function. Naidu arrived on time in his uniform and medals wearing his ‘namam’ and ear studs.
The ADC asked him to remove these only to be refused. On being reminded again, Naidu got into his car and went home.
The IG who arrived just after Naidu’s departure, was shocked at the latter’s absence. From the scoffing ADC, he learnt about the incident.
The IG is understood to have told the ADC, “I would request you Sir to overlook the fact that he is wearing his traditional marks, as you would be a fool sir, not to realise that not ten of you would make one of him!”
Without waiting for a reply, the IG rushed to Naidu’s residence. He was horrified to see Naidu in civvies. After a lot of persuasion, Naidu got into uniform again and attended the function, which was delayed by 9 minutes, during which, the Prince of Wales himself, had to wait!
Parangusam retired as IG in 1923 and passed away in 1931 at the age of 63.
Dream Dare Win