My school days – Dr. H. T. Sangliana, decorated police officer
Dr. H. T. Sangliana is a native of the Indian state of Mizoram. He is a decorated police officer, who joined the elite Indian Police Service. He held the post Commissioner of Police of Bangalore city. During his service as a police officer, he had an impressive record. He later went on to become a Member of Parliament. Here he talks about his education years in detail.
Well I studied in Mizoram for my high school level education. My father used to be transferred frequently from one place to another and as such, you can understand, I couldn’t continue in one particular school. And ultimately, it ended up that way. I changed many schools and college two times. So that was my journey so far as schooling was concerned. And I think I should give high marks to my mother who motivated me to study. She used to point at some coolies or some such poor people carrying loads etc. and she told me, “Look if you don’t go to school and study properly you will become like that and you will be poor man. So go to school.” So she used to motivate me that way.
I was not a very healthy boy; I was lean and thin. I used to look around and seeing people with good physique, I recon they will be in very advantageous position compared to me in earning livelihood that need the use of such manpower so, I used to think that the only gateway for me to success will be to study hard. So I was fortunate enough to prioritize my time and my ambition quite early in life.
In the evening hours after school when my friends were playing their games like football, hockey, basketball, whatever, I look at them from distance and just get going saying, “Well, I will go and study. With good results I will play the same games later on.” My happiness will be much more than what these people who are enjoying. “Let me go first and study.” So even having girlfriends, for example, as teens we all have had this both sides of the sex. That too I said to myself, “Well, why try to have girlfriend now and spoil my career, it will be foolish for me to do, so better I don’t have any girlfriend.” Whereas my friends will go and have good time and come back and report to me. So, I was just laughing with them all along.
Call from headmaster
And then when I came to Imphal, capital of Manipur I joined the high school from middle school. For that I came from Mizoram to Manipur to study in Bengali High School. At that time I was attracted so much by cinema. I use attend the roll call, and quietly skip away and go to watch the picture. One day I got a call from headmaster who conveyed to me through my class teacher, who I am sure is the one who told headmaster that I was skipping classes after roll call. So when he said that the headmaster wanted to see me I was wondering what it was for etc…so anyway I had to go. When I went to headmaster chamber he was all alone and I stood in front of him. You should have seen that. He was a tall gentleman, an ex-army officer. With a growling voice, he asked me if it was true that I used to skip classes after roll call. I couldn’t say no. I didn’t want to tell lie. I could have said, maybe, “Sir I used to have stomach pain and I used to go to hospital for treatment etc.” I could have bluffed him – whether he would believe or not I don’t know. So he asked me if it was true that I have been skipping classes. I said, “Sorry Sir.” Then he pull out a cane from his drawer as long as this (shows an expression) cane and he asked me extend my hand. I gave my hand. He gave me three nice beatings here, three red lines came and I started rubbing and then he said to me, “Look this is your first and last warning. Never skip classes again in the future. If you do I will expel you from the school.” I left his chamber. He turned to the classroom and behaved as though nothing happened.
Then after three months again I got the call from the same headmaster through the same teacher. I went there again same thing took place. He asked me if it was true that I had skipped the classes again despite the warning which he gave me, that he would expel me from the school. I just didn’t know what to do. I just said sorry sir. Again he pulled out his cane and gave me that day on my left hand and another three red lines came up. And so I said to myself, “Well, if I continued this way surely he is going to expel me so, I better stop.” I stopped from that day. Now the wonderful thing with this headmaster is that he didn’t give me the beating in the presence of others. Not in the presence of even the class teacher or anybody. It was in privacy. He wanted to probably help me maintain myself esteem and my self-respect so that he didn’t beat me in public which many headmasters, many teachers do which is absolutely wrong.
So often I used to think – when I became IPS officer later on – that if it had not been for that headmaster, if he had not given me the proper punishment I would have become one of the biggest rowdies in the country and would have been the robber or whatever. But he did that to me. He was the kind of headmaster, the kind of teacher who was mindful of my future and the fact that my father sent me with great difficulty by sending money order from Mizoram to Manipur by post etc. every month. So I say corporate punishment is needed by some students. But the way it is delivered has to be very carefully planned and executed because many people, many students have committed suicide because they are embarrassed this way. So I have been saying that the corporate punishment cannot be totally ruled out because some of us need it; I was also one who needed that.
So I used to say that let me go to the same head master and thank him for what he had done to me. I was already IGP rank at that time. I visited Manipur and my batch mate was there . I said I want to meet my headmaster who had given me beatings. So I was searching for his house and I got it and I was escorted by police people because of the disturbed area. So when I went and entered into his house I saw him lying on the cot, he was paralyzed by then. He was lying on his bed and I went to his pillow and I spoke. He had seen all those cops in uniform and had been wondering what was wrong and what was going to happen. I told him I was his student in such year and I have come here to narrate the story of punishment he had given me sir. So I narrated this and I said he might have thought, “What is this man doing after so many years of saying he has come here to put me in jail or what.” So after I finished my story I said to him, “Sir I have come here to thank you for what you have done to me. If you had not given the discipline at that time when I needed I would have become so and so but today I have become already responsible officers of the police organization in the country and I have come here to thank you.”
I wanted the headmaster, who gave me the beating and tried to improve me, to come out for dinner whatever my wife had prepared to thank him for what he was to me. But before I could do that he passed away, he was already paralyzed and also due to old age maybe.
I also went to to see my old school building – which I remembered very well. The building had all gone they have become ruins because of non-maintenance anyway. I went to the old office and I was searching for my name in the registration where they entered the names of students etc. There after nearly 20-25 years I saw my name. H T Sangliana !
With Mrs H.T Sangliana in front of the awards and medals received over the years!
Careful during examinations
When it came to examinations I used to be very careful. I will see to it my study environment is not disturbed by any object which can distract me or my attention; there should be no picture or photo, no wall painting etc. So I will be facing the wall very close – table, the wall and my book nothing else – so that my concentration was high. And whatever I wanted to get by heart I used to narrate it either loudly or silently. A thing which I will be able to recite correctly before I sleep off at night I can recite again without any mistake the next morning. That was how I tested myself. So I read every object -every item which I wanted to get by heart – I used to recite before I fall asleep while lying on the bed.
And then in examination hall, for example I used to wear muffler to prevent me from looking right side or left side or front to have a full concentration on my answering the questions. That was my habit. I thought if I can see this side or that side I will have the tendency or temptation to look – maybe even for a couple of minutes or something – but in a minute you can write quite a lot in examination hall ! I tried to avoid this and I never allowed myself to look around and to see how others are doing etc.
I had no any particular subject in which I was interested. When I went for my graduation I took economics as my honor subject. So I did BA honors in economics. I wanted to be a topper in the university at that time and that is only university we had in the North East in economic stream. But my father died just two weeks before my exam. It disturbed my concentration to a great extent because he was the one who sent me there and who I loved so much and he loved me so much. So I made up my mind to drop the exam and appear the next year so that I might be the topper. But my cousin who was catholic priest who happened to be around in the city Shillong, where I studied he said. “No you should write for the exam there is no point in not writing the exams, father is gone and you can do nothing even if you go home now.” So with that I gave the exam and we were 80 people, and 80 made honors in economics in that year.
I got 8th position out of the top ten. So I said okay!
Why don’t I do this cooking also?
We were staying in a hostel run by Manipur government. We used to have a system of cooking food for group of students every five to ten people. So we are from Mizoram and we all are very poor people – let me put it that way – we didn’t hire any cook as such but among ourselves turn by turn we cook food for ourselves. We would go to markets, we do cooking, we do all this cleaning and all that. So, one day I said to myself, “Why don’t I do this cooking also?” Those who would like to do cooking they do. If they don’t want they don’t. In addition to free food for the cook, we used to give 25 paisa.
So I said to myself why don’t I also do cooking? So I did that for one week saying that one day if my children were to be in this position or if they were needed to do something, some odd job like this to save some money or to make money I’ll say to them, “Look one day I was also a cook. Don’t be bothered about taking up this work or that work. Whatever is the work take it up and do it properly.”
Four pillars for success in education
I have been telling to people there are three pillars for education. If these three pillars cooperate each other properly there can never be failure in education. Number one there has to be a teacher, good teacher. Then there has to be a good management, management has to be build the school etc., then good teachers and good student. I said three, but I have to add on one more, that is, the parent. For our success in education these are the four pillars.
Each one of these by themselves if they try to promote education nothing will succeed. For example management is so keen to have students to come and study there but if they don’t have students what’s the use. Whatever training aids they have, Okay, it will be there but will not properly utilize. So the management has to have a good study atmosphere, study aids. Then they have to have a student and this student must be keen to learn. Simply coming to class and making fun or playing games and wasting time and having girlfriend, boyfriend, nothing will work. So a student has to be there – who should be mindful of nothing but study. Study, study, study. Student has nothing else to do except study as they are students and at home parents have to see that children have study atmosphere. TV timings are there, games, or maybe one hour or even half an hour kind of. So here parents have to understand the need of the children. And they should try to hire tuition etc. The parent who has to also provide necessary uniform and buy necessary books and pay fees on time.
So, by the student alone you cannot have success. Same is the case with the teacher. The teacher must be keen to teach. But what can the teacher do by himself or herself alone, nothing. So she has to have cooperation from the student. So if these four pillars cooperate and work together there can be no failure in education.
Public services as a career option?
If I can advise students to take up public services – compared to being engineer or doctor – people may say oh Sangliana is belittling a doctor or engineer ! But the fact remains that as a civil servant for example as IPS officer, I managed departments or situations where I’ll get the service of a doctor at the drop of a coin or service of an engineer at the drop of a coin because they are there, they’re under me as a civil servant. So depending on your placement they are all under you. People say in civil service you have the power, but in business you have money. You have to decide which option is best for you.
It’s difficult to say which one is better, but for me if civil services could be grabbed by a student, yes they should go for it. Even pension – for example – is very good in civil service career.
Should students join politics?
When people ask me whether students should play a role in politics, I’ll tell them yes provided one is really interested in self-denial. When I say self-denial it means denying yourself of your personal welfare, your personal growth, your personal advancement. If you’re a person to deny yourself of such things but giving for public service. Whatever you say, whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you drink could be this all for the society, not for your own advancement for your families etc. Yes, politics is really a good opportunity to serve the people, to serve the society. But what kind of politician you are trying to be? If you want to make money yes you can make hell of money in politics, but if you don’t want to make money you can serve the people. You can make the people happy about getting extra water, extra better roads and better facilities and all that.
So, politics I don’t consider it as 100% bad. It depends on the players.
When I was Member of Parliament I did quite a lot of work during that period. I even constructed a road – rather repaired a road – which was not touched for 25 years. I spent one and a half crores for which Government of India had to do two meetings. Parliamentary advisory committee had to do two meetings to consider my request. They said these types of construction work are often used by people to make money. But then they said this is the request from Sangliana and he is a different person so let us give him on condition that this will not be used as a precedent ! So the kind of things I did – how many bore wells to get water for the villagers etc. Quite a lot I must say within that short period. Yeah I am quite satisfied. I am quite satisfied. And I say it is possible for an MP to do good work.
As told to Kartik Isvarmurti, Managing Editor, India School News