Opinion | Time to ban IAS, IPS officers’ personal social media handles grabbing needless attention

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Our Hon’ble PM, Shri Narendra Modi ji, while addressing the 2018 batch of IPS recruits, cautioned, “Don’t fall into ‘Singham’ trap. Police uniform is not associated with authority and awe but inspires pride. Some policemen, when they join the service, want to instil fear in public and think that anti-social elements should shudder at their name. This feeling clouds the minds of people who grow up watching movies like ‘Singham’. You have to decide if you want to create fear or lasting compassion in the minds of people”.

He further stressed the importance of a constructive partnership with civil society making it a part of governance so that policing force acts as a multiplier.

Recently, at the KDEM inaugural ceremony held in Mysuru, I echoed the words and thoughts of our prime minister. This module of false image projection should be swept out not only from IPS officers but IAS officers as well.

During the media interaction at the same event, I conveyed the same point and opined that it is wrong of a handful of IAS and IPS officials to run so-called fan pages and social media platforms for the sole purpose of grabbing media attention for unreal reasons.

Such fan pages and social media platforms are being weaponised to spread made-up news and engender online harassment. It’s a fact that a major share of active social media users credit something they saw on it with changing their views about a political or social issue.

I am of the view that such a practice of garnering false publicity needs to be discouraged and government should put in a mechanism to keep a tab on some publicity hungry IAS and IPS officers to curb misuse of social media.

While majority of the people have echoed my thoughts, some have questioned my motives.

They even argued that the same rules should be applied to politicians like me.

Sadly, some of them do not know the basic difference between an elected representative and a public servant (IAS/IPS) who work for salary till his or her retirement.

Politicians spend own money to manage social media platforms and a few of us personally manage our accounts. Not all of us have a PR agency to showcase our work.

We are elected by the people for a fixed five-year term in office and it is our responsibility to convey what work is being done in our respective constituencies to maintain transparency and also to build our own image as we are answerable to the public on completion of our term.

There is no comparison between an elected representative and a paid bureaucrat. In today’s globalised and connected world that we are living in, communication is the major key.

Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter play a major role in connecting people and disseminating valuable information in real time. This is the reason most government departments have official social media handles for public engagement.

Each district SP or DC also has an official account or handle. This is a welcome move and should be further encouraged.

My only objection to them having personal accounts and so-called fan pages is that a few of the overambitious bureaucrats and police officials use to falsely boost their personal image.

Some of them peddle fictions to  the gullible general public, who normally assume that IAS and IPS are holy cows and the politicians are always bad.

In my own experience, I have come across a few IAS and IPS officers who are actually corrupt and incompetent, yet have an impeccable, crusader image in the public eye courtesy the power of social media.

These officers are least interested in serving the people. For them everything is an image building opportunity, which helps them in getting bigger, better, lucrative postings or works as a ladder to enter politics one day. Some of these characters are arrogant, indifferent and corrupt in their personal lives. Some use the fake clean image as a cover to hide all their nefarious activities. When a politician like me or a vigilant citizen questions them or demand accountability, these officers use their social media enabled image to discredit us, claiming they are honest and innocent, being targeted by corrupt and wily politicians.

Unfortunately, the gullible public fall for such things and the officers in question go scot-free carrying forward their personal image building exercise at public expense. An officer doing his or her assigned job is not an achievement, which should be hailed by the media or public. It is their duty to the people, who pay their salaries and take care of their all other comforts.

Some of these publicity hungry officers behave like vultures clamouring for attention calling themselves “Singhams”. Actually, they have done nothing or doing nothing to earn such titles. They are famous for just being famous. That too at public cost.

I know that there are some exceptionally good and brave IAS and IPS officers who have been quietly doing a great job to change society. None of them are well known in the public or no one calls them “Singhams”. Because they don’t think they are doing something remarkable to get publicity. They are just doing their jobs. On the contrary, publicity hungry babus ignore their primary job, spending all their time on publicity building.

Some have even hired professional publicity agencies to boost their career and image. Who pays for these things? Where do they get the money from? Some even have the audacity to attack their MLAs and MPs using social media accounts.

It needs to be investigated and nipped in the bud before it devours our entire IAS and IPS. Reckless use of social media platforms to boost their image or tarnish the image of other fellow officers should never be tolerated by any government. It will be a free for all situation one day if we don’t act now.

A mere publicity hungry officer is of no use to society. Our media and civic society should also think twice before endorsing these officers. Because their encouragement is actually a disservice to the society. Time to act now.

The author is the Member of Parliament, Mysuru – Kodagu Lok Sabha Constituency. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the stand of this publication.

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