Monday, March 4, 2024

A down-to-earth and dynamic officer

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A dynamic IPS officer of the Andhra Pradesh cadre, Visakhapatnam Range DIG DJ Vishal Gunni has endeared himself to people of the Telugu states with his exemplary dedication to duty. The young, down-to-earth easily accessible IPS officer had cracked the Civils following a childhood dream etched in his memory from the accomplishments of his father. He joined service in 2010. Right from his childhood, he has excelled in studies, sports, and martial arts, winning numerous awards and rewards. He has been adding feathers to his cap in his impeccable service as an IPS officer, the latest one being his victory at the prestigious Tonk Cup Equitation Competition for IPS trainees at NPA Hyderabad.
A fitness freak, good cook, and a foodie, Vishal prizes quality time with his family. In a freewheeling interview with The Pioneer’s C Pradeep Kumar, the IPS officer sheds light on his illustrious journey from Karnataka to Andhra Pradesh.

Parents and siblings
I was born to D Jaya Prakash and TM Savithri in Bengaluru, Karnataka State. My dad, native of Chitradurga district, retired as a Joint Director in the Cooperative Audit Department, Government of Karnataka. My mom, hailing from Kodagu district, is a homemaker. I have a younger brother Nithin Gunni, who is into business at Bengaluru.

Active childhood
Right from my childhood to the completion of my graduation, I was in Bengaluru. I have very fond memories of my school and college days. I was very good at studies and played a lot of sports. I used to also participate in extracurricular activities. At school, I participated in quiz and debate competitions and have won a lot of prizes. I have won prizes in sports as well as in academics. During holidays my parents used to take me and my brother to my grandparents’ place, where we used to have a good time and enjoyed a lot.

Excelled in academics
I was born and brought up in Bengaluru. I did my schooling from the India Air Force School, Bengaluru; Plus 2 (Commerce) and Graduation (BA) (History, Economic and Political Science) from St Joseph College, Bengaluru. During graduation, I was awarded a gold medal in economics. I did my postgraduation from the Delhi School of Economics (DSE) (Human Resource and organisational development). Prior to that, I had been selected for postgraduation in Political Science, but chose to quit the course four months after taking admission in JNU due to homesickness. Later, my parents motivated me and I joined the Delhi School of Economics.
Upon completion of PG, I got selected for the State Trading Corporation through campus placement.

Support from parents
There was immense support and caring from my parents. Right from childhood days, they paved the way for my career. My father gave me a free hand in choosing my career path and encouraged me in whichever field I showed interest. My parents always asked me to enjoy learning. My mom, as an NCC cadet, always encouraged me to play a lot of sports inculcated discipline.

Took part in extra-curricular activities
At school, I played a lot of sports and the 100 meters sprint was my favourite. I was also into martial arts, receiving a black belt in taekwondo. Right from my school days, I have been writing poetry and one fine day, I will compile everything and come out with a book. I am good at telling bedtime stories to my kids.
During my graduation, I was the college topper and the best outgoing student for three years and the best outgoing humanities student besides university rank holder. I was the Cultural Secretary during graduation.
I was a Sub Junior National Champion in Taekwondo and used to play tennis at club level and even with school teams and degree teams. I was proactive in participating in quiz & debate and won prizes at a lot of events at school and college levels.

Marriage and spouse
I found my love in Delhi while pursuing PG at DSE in 2005. My wife, Neha Sharma, is a Punjabi from Patiala. She is a mathematics graduate and has an MBA. We both were preparing for the Civils in Delhi.
My parents and her parents asked us just a couple of things: ‘How long have you both known each other? Do you love each other and do you feel compatible? We got married in 2012 and the marriage was performed in south Indian style in Tirumala.
We are blessed with two kids: elder one, son Adhrit Gunni and the younger one, daughter Aadya Gunni.
Neha Sharma is a central government employee and works as the Deputy Manager in United India Insurance. She is a major support to me and the family.

Quality time
For a cop, support from the spouse plays a crucial role when it comes to taking care of the kids. Luckily for me, my wife Neha does it very well in an organised way, while also attending to her office work from 10 to 5 and devoting time to kids and me. After office work, I too don’t carry work to home –the hectic work from 10 to 5, I leave at the office. Our policy at home is to watch one movie a week with family. On Sundays, it is completely quality time; we take the kids out. I coach my kids in certain sports. My son likes athletics and I play with my daughter. If I happen to be at office beyond 7 pm, I get in touch with my kids through video call. Interestingly, every night I should be prepared with a bedtime story for my kids and whenever I find time, I create a new story for them. My daughter is more demanding while my son is calm and focused. Both are very good at studies.

Support from spouse in career
Spouse’s role is important in a cop’s life. She takes care of my professional requirements as well. She cooks my favourite food whenever I happen to feel low and stressed.
There is a strict policy of ‘no screen time’ at home and the whole family has breakfast and dinner together with no gadgets around. While having food, everyone talks about their day’s activity. During the whole day, there is one hour of TV time for kids, after studies and sports. I feel that parents should adopt such practices and inculcate discipline in their children, instead of overexposing them to mobile or TV screens, which has a very bad effect on the brain.

Whenever I find time, I hit the bed and take rest. Generally, I spend time with family or play sports. I also spend time writing poetry, though time for it has dwindled in the recent past due to hectic work.

Influences in life
My father is a self-made man and cracked the Civils. My mother was an NCC cadet. They are my real role models; I grew up looking at them. As an officer in public service, I practice a lot of what I had learnt from my dad. I admire people but my real role models are my parents.

First posting
I belong to the 2010 IPS batch and the people of Andhra Pradesh have given me immense love and affection. I love the culture and traditions of the people here. My first posting was in Madanapalle, Chittoor as ASP (UT) and later I was in Greyhounds for 10 months.
I discharged my duties as ASP Narsipatnam from April 2013 to September 2013, and was retained as OSD, Narsipatnam till January 2016. Later, I worked as Superintendent of Police (SP) Nellore district till June 2017. I was transferred to East Godavari as SP and worked there till June 2017. For a brief time, I was into OCTOPUS and then worked as SP Guntur Rural till April 2022. I was the Commandant for the 6th Battalion for 40 days. Thereafter, I was posted as DCP (L&O) NTR Police Commissionerate and got promotion as DIG on January 1, 2024. I was posted as DIG Visakhapatnam Range on January 29, 2024.

Achievements as IPS officer
Right from training days at NPA, Hyderabad I have won medals. I was among the runners-up for ‘Best Outdoor Probationer’. I won the prestigious Tonk Cup Equitation Competition for IPS trainees at NPA Hyderabad. In athletics I have won gold medals in all disciplines.
As ASP Narsipatnam, I won the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Award in 2014 – then the only one in the country — for community policing and received SKOCH award from the Ministry of Roads and Transport for “reducing the rate of accident in East Godavari district”. I took the initiative to renovate police stations with CSR funds so as to provide people visiting police stations a clean and pleasant environment. We have trained constables and SIs on how to talk and behave with public; how to be empathetic, responsible and respectful with them; and how to connect with people and make them feel secure.
I adopted an open-door policy; anyone can come and meet me without prior appointment between 10 am and 4 pm when I am in office. Dial your SP is a good initiative and the public can reach out to me at any time.

Facing challenges in service

I have discharged duties in agency areas for more than four years as ASP Narsipatnam, Chintapalli OSD Narsipatnam. During my tenure as ASP and OSD, there were exchanges of fire and surrender of many Maoist sympathisers. The sympathisers who had surrendered were given vocational training and we transformed to lead normal lives. Tribal students were given coaching. Roads were laid at a few agency areas.

Pressures from political circles
There have been no political pressures during my career because I do things within my framework of rules. Dealing with these pressures shows the character and capacity of an officer. In a democracy, we need to work with political executives as a team to focus on development of the state and resolve public grievances.

Message to the younger generation
I feel that there are three pillars of success: hard work, dedication and perseverance. One should be able to forgo immediate pleasure for success. One should keep distraction aside and focus on clear-cut goals so as to achieve them in given time frame.

Quick bytes

Nick name: Vishu – family (DJ) friends

Like coffee or tea: Coffee

Favourite colour:  Blue

Strength and weakness: Strength – My family; weakness – Food

Compliment you received:  My daughter said Dad you are very strong

Emotional moment: While watching Ted Lasso series recently

Favourite food: Indian food (chicken biryani)

Preferred delicacies: I am a very good cook; I cook sweets, cakes and sambar etc.

Favourite holiday spot:  Bengaluru, home and Austria

Like in others:  Kindness and respect

Favourite movie and song: Movie – Alavaikuntapuram and The Sympathizer. Song Sapta Sagaradaache Ello (Kannada)

Describe your attitude in three words:  Respect all – Fear none

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