Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Chasing the Brigand

For decades, Mr.Vijaykumar IPS, a decorated officer from the Tamil Nadu cadre has been the scourge of the law breakers in any form in the Indian sub continent. Be it the organized Maoists on the borders, the don’s of the city of Chennai or the poachers / smugglers on the western ghats – he was the omnipresent ‘Ghost who walks’ for them (in line with the various Phantom quotes in his book).

An autobiography of Mr.Vijaykumar IPS and a Biography of the iconic forest brigand – Koose Munuswamy Veerapan are the two distinct aspects of his latest book “Chasing the Brigand” – a concise summary of events over a few decades along with a virtual walk through of the last 20 minutes of the famous encounter “Operation Cocoon”. It is a captivating read of the life and times of the dreaded bandit, while at the same time it serves as an essential piece of truth-telling about one of the murkiest events in recent history - the death of Veerapan (though the politics behind his emergence, survival & growth continues to remain a mystery).

This short book is a fascinating blast of history - more rationale, plausible, sequential than the various versions doing the rounds in the media and websites. It is a thought provoking alternative to the hagiography served up in Vana Yudham – a Tamil movie attempt on the life and times of Veerapan. 

The most powerful chapters in this book concern the overall continuity of the hunt - from Mr. Walter Dewaram to Mr.Vijaykumar and every one in between – the likes of Mr.Sanjay Arora and the excellent team work along with the Intelligence, the forest department, the local police and not to mention the law enforcement agencies across the borders of Karnataka. His well researched comparative anecdotes go into a lot of detail on some of the finer points without ever getting boring. He is able to educate on comparable historical global events without you even realizing he has drifted from the main story. These actually set him apart from the run of the mill ‘friendly ‘neighbourhood cop and the ones that adorn the silver screen climaxes that we are used to and perceive as the norm for most cops – in real life.

The gutsy move of the dreaded bandit in using explosives at the Palar operations to the gruesome murder of the forest official (Mr.Srinivas), to the bold raids of police stations, right up to the audacity of kidnapping the Karnataka matinee idol Dr.Rajkumar speaks about the calibre of the bandit in pulling of major coups and his ability to plan, execute and deliver – key management traits – only in the wrong place.

Mr.Vijaykumar describes the folly of Veerapan’s ‘Lowering of guard’ during his last days, his clouding eyesight, his over dependence on his team and his counterproductive move of aligning with Tamil ultra’s both within the state and across the Sri Lankan islands – all of which, paved way for inroads to be made into his otherwise tightly packed unit, leading up to ‘Operation Cocoon’ which, as I said earlier, is a virtual walkthrough of those deadly 20 minutes. The icing on the cake is the narration of the final call with the CM during the wee hours.

The narration bolts at a good solid pace throughout. It achieves two things, which are rare lately in books, firstly, you are compelled into swiping into the next pages of your kindle (mine was a kindle edition) desperate to find out what happened and secondly you wake up with the kindle open on your bed on more than one occasion!

With nonstop action, intrigue and a fascinating plot Chasing the Brigand is an example of a biography-thriller at its very best. The issues raised concerning the politics of crime and the very real threat of violence in life will have readers thinking about Chasing the Brigand long after they have put the book down. A must read for lovers of intrigue, thrillers and for anyone who loves an exciting true life story with a complex timescale of events with twists, turns and a climax that would put a Hollywood thriller to shame.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

OPS (Other Person’s Shadow) Syndrome

Stepping into the shoes of a towering, historic leader is no easy task – especially if those are the shoes of a Charismatic, Legendary, Towering demigoddess who had created history in life (and death).

Yet, a person who was never perceived as an independent decision maker, always known as a trusted lieutenant, a humble loyalist, a stop gap leader – has silently played a very important role in supporting the historic student movement to preserve the cultural identity of the Tamil community. 

In the current harsh, sensitive political scenario, filling the void left by a legendary leader, amidst burning cultural issues and sensitive youth ideologies, walking a tightrope balancing the Centre, State & party politics is almost like skating on thin ice or walking a minefield. One wrong move and things could spiral out of control.

Sensing the mood of the student rising, understanding emotions, meeting them the very evening, flying out to Delhi, meeting the PM, convincing the various departments, enabling the drafting of legal papers for the President and the Judiciary, getting it signed, flying back to explain the situation to the protesters, assuring them of tabling the law the next day at the assembly, doing it the next day, managing the press, and most important of all – not compromising safety when intelligence warned on infiltration of antisocial elements is surely a commendable task – given the sheer enormity of the situation.

He does have his critics for his ‘Mixture’ of late actions, subdued reactions, for his affinity for being a shadow or his fancy for women’s feet – yet, these, in my personal opinion are nemesis of anyone emerging out of persona cult based organisation, specifically in a phase of leadership transition. I do think it a Cultural Cognition Projection, where researchers look into “the tendency of individuals to conform their beliefs about disputed matters of fact … to values that define their cultural identities”.

Will he survive amidst the murky political fascists waiting for a chance both within and outside his own party, will he get away from the ugly tentacles of corruption charges, will he survive the power hungry coteries of caste party politics – only time will tell, but for now, Mr.Chief minister, you have done us proud and truly emerged out of the OPS syndrome.

(Caveat): I am no Political expert nor any party aficionado and hence this is a common man's view on the current scenario. But I have been at senior positions in the corporate world - especially at huge corporate groups to talk about leadership and transition.