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Brew ha-ha at the cops’ tea meeting

Brew ha-ha at the cops’ tea meeting

Satish Kumar Sharma

MORE than a decade ago, the Rajasthan Government decided to introduce the police commissionerate system in the state to meet the ever-growing challenges of policing in big cities such as Jaipur and Jodhpur. It sent a delegation of IPS officers to study the system in Ahmedabad, where it had been in operation since 1951.

I was then a Joint Police Commissioner there. The delegation came to meet me for clarification on some points. After a discussion, we were having tea when the head of the delegation asked me, ‘Is there anything else we can borrow from here?’

I said, ‘Yes! Don’t forget to follow our tradition of the Police Commissioner’s daily tea meeting,’ and explained to him what it was all about. He nodded and the delegation left.

At 4 pm on all working days, officers of the rank of Deputy Commissioner of Police or above of the Ahmedabad city police meet in the chamber of the Police Commissioner over a cup of tea. The top cops of Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot adopted the practice when police commissionerates were created there in 1981.

The Police Commissioner’s tea meeting lasts a little more than half an hour, but it serves many useful purposes. The officers can exchange information and views on professional matters, thrash out common irritants and the Police Commissioner can give instructions face to face. The meeting also helps in expediting decision-making by cutting through the red tape. And finally, it is an opportunity for the officers to indulge in a bit of banter, back-slapping or leg-pulling to de-stress.

I recall the days of 2010, when the tea meeting in Ahmedabad had become a complex affair. So varied was the choice of brew of the dozen-plus officers that the poor office attendant had a tough time accommodating all tastes and preferences.

The Police Commissioner — a native of Assam and a tea connoisseur to boot — suffered neither milk nor sugar in his cup. A few officers took regular, masala or green tea, while a smaller but committed number stuck to coffee.

One afternoon, the discussion turned to the inevitable but never-settled question: which brew was better — tea or coffee? The tea brigade outnumbered the coffee battalion 3:1 and was getting the better of the latter when an Additional Commissioner, who led the coffee side, declared: ‘Coffee is better because it has twice as much caffeine as tea and is, therefore, far more stimulating.’

Then, he turned to the Police Commissioner and said with unconcealed flattery, ‘Thank you, sir, for the wonderful coffee that we get here. It really takes away all my post-lunch sluggishness.’

Hearing this, the Police Commissioner, who had kept quiet all this while, smiled and asked, ‘Are you sure?’

“Yes, sir! Absolutely,’ said the Additional Commissioner.

At this, the Police Commissioner picked up the jar of coffee powder from the tray and passed it around for everyone to have a look. It was a jar of decaffeinated coffee!


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