September 19, 2011
School of Communication, Coimbatore
Priyanka Victor and Anirudh Nair, students of Amrita School of Communication, describe their conversation with P. K. Hormis Tharakan, retired IPS officer, who was on campus to participate in the seminar on Conflict Reporting and Peace Journalism
P. K. Hormis Tharakan, retired IPS officer, originally comes from a family of farmers. He has had a long and distinguished career as a public servant. His calm, non-assuming demeanor exudes the confidence of a man who has seen it all.
Humility shines through his bureaucratic armor when he defers the credit for transforming the Kerala police force to his successor, K.J. Joseph. “The Police Act of 1861 which was totally outdated was still guiding the functioning of the police, during my time,” he shares. Tharakan’s recommendations to K. J. Joseph were implemented and were instrumental in the transformation of the police force in Kerala.
He considers his stint as the Chief of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), India’s external intelligence agency, as the highlight of his career. “I spent more time in RAW than with the Kerala police,” he says. “I had the chance to work from many districts in the country. While police work is high profile, and they actively work with the media, RAW maintains a low profile. The work involves a lot of study and connecting the dots.”
After a couple of decades with RAW, Tharakan returned to Kerala to head the Anti-Corruption wing. As former Director of the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau, he opines, “If the top leadership sets an example by practice, corruption can soon become a thing of the past. Every officer should be held responsible for his behavior by his subordinates. A vigilant media should be on the lookout for those who indulge in corrupt practices.”
Lavishing praise on the Indian media, he says, “Many journalists and reporters have raised the bar to a very high level.” He talks of the downside – sometimes media may drive public opinion that is not right. Only one side of the story is told. And it’s difficult to change public opinion once it is formed.
An ideal situation, in his opinion, would be one wherein police personnel can share everything with media folks to give them the correct picture and prevent half-baked reports from appearing. But the media exercises control over what has to be published according to the needs of the people.
Mr. Tharakan is a Visiting Professor of Geopolitics in Manipal University. He regularly writes on issues related to terrorism, peace and conflict resolution. He is modest about his writing skills. He says, “I have always liked to read more than write but now I’m also thinking of penning down my experiences.”
He feels that there is much scope for improvement in India and what is keeping us back are issues such as corruption and lack of disciplined behavior on a personal level. “Success is not everything; the way you achieve it should be your strength,” he says.