Maintaining law and order in a city like Bengaluru is no mean feat and for the city’s top brass, Police Commissioner Bhaskar Rao, there's no room for glamour. There’s little time to play 'Singham', the hero in khakhi who conducts high-profile raids and suspense-filled showdowns. His job, he says, is to guide the force and he chooses an unconventional way to do so. He refers to the 19,000 "boys in the department" as his children, recommends yoga to deal with stress and finds his solace in the verdance of Cubbon Park. A sportsman always, Rao describes his hobbies - cycling and long distance running as his ‘ meditation’. When it’s time to play tough cop, he does so with ease - he’s currently waging a war against the drug mafia. Mr Rao, now a highly-decorated officer, tells M.K. Ashoka about his own life, dealing with failure and the twists and turns of his own career, which has seen him go from the army, to being a lecturer of Economics before he became an IPS officer.
He is genial, even affectionate in his dealings with his subordinates and the general public, but Bengaluru city police commissioner, Bhaskar Rao is no Father Christmas. When it comes to law enforcement, he is a hard man, who the drug mafia should especially fear. Unlike his predecessors, who never admitted to the city’s schools and colleges being infested with the drug menace, Mr Rao has not only acknowledged it, but has come out with a clear cut plan to check it.
“I have declared a war on the drug mafia,” he says emphatically, his tone showing he means business. “I plan to create semi-prisons for the Nigerian drug peddlers. Whoever is arrested, will be kept in this facility until we contact the ambassadors of the respective countries and send them back,” he reveals.
“We don’t know what happens in high-end lounges. Drugs are mixed in drinks and unspeakable things are done with women. Unfortunately many cases don’t get reported,” he observes regretfully.
But Mr Rao is quick to add, “I am definitely no Singham (the popular tough cop of the movies). I am not going to conducts raids or have any showdown. My job is to ensure law and order in the city and I can get it done by guiding the entire force. It’s all about giving them resources.”
That his style of policing is different is clear as he explains how he gets his tough job done. “ Being joyful is my strength. It helps me pass on the positive vibes to my 19,000 boys in the department. The cops are as good as my children. I never use the usual police lingo. I am always affectionate. I believe that what goes round will come around,” he says.
Having been overlooked for the post of police commissioner of Bengaluru a while ago and seen it to go to an officer four years junior to him, now that he is in the hot seat he says he intends to make best use of it. “My priority is to clean up my department, raise the morale of the staff and remove all the muck. My police constable is my representative, he will build my reputation for me,” he adds with conviction.
Admitting that his life has not been stress-free and has been peppered with failures too, Mr Rao says, “I have been unsuccessful at times. Often I came close to success, but defeat came in the way. I have been an army officer and have even taught economics at NMKRV college. It was a hard path before I became an IPS officer.”
What has seen him through the tough times and continues to be his source of strength is his love affair with the green and lush Cubbon Park, that occupies pride of place in the heart of the city.
A sportsman, who enjoys cycling, long distance running, trekking, and cross country running, he makes sure to take time out every day to enjoy the green cover and cool breeze that it offers and candidly admits, “Cubbon Park has been my saviour. I usually get up at 4.45 am and go there. It relieves me of all stress and negativity.”
It came to his rescue especially when he faced a serious allegation of lobbying for the post of commissioner on assuming office. “I got up at my usual time and did 9.4 kms of walking in the park,” he smiles, explaining that running and cycling are like meditation to him. “Both have a very positive impact on me. It is when doing these sports that I get to interact with young people, who are between 20 and 30 years old. I feel young too when I am with them , but I only listen to what these boys have to say. Young boys have a terrific vision, plans, ideas, and dreams and it is here that my vision takes shape. I am inspired by their thought processes. If you want to beat stress, want to get new ideas and be a joyful person, I strongly recommend connection with the youth. Go cycling and on adventures with them,” he seriously advises.
In fact, so enthusiastic is he about sports that in July 2017 he participated in the Karnataka Darshan Cycle Jatha, covering 1,750 kms in 14 days with a team of 52 enthusiasts.
As he himself acknowledges, his career has been varied and includes stints as managing director of the Karnataka State Electronics Development Corporation Limited (KEONICS), director of the KSRTC, Mysuru commissioner of police, commissioner of transport and road safety, and in police training, coastal security, anti -terror, state industrial security and anti -Naxal operations.
There have been laurels too as he was awarded the “Poorna Chandra Tejaswi” in September 2017, the President’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service in 2015, the President’s Police Medal for Meritorious Service in 2008 and the United Nation’s Medal for services rendered in international peacekeeping in war zone, Kosovo, Yugoslavia in 2000.
His rich past nothwithstanding, his current focus is clearly keeping Bengaluru safe from crime. “I am extremely lucky to be sitting here in the position of commissioner of Bengaluru. I am ready for all situations. The decision is made by the higher- ups in the system. Sometimes it is good for us and sometimes it is bad,” he shrugs, his philosophical tone typical of the even tempered law enforcing man his associates are familiar with....