Anshu Hari Kumar turned up at Lalbazar on Wednesday morning in a blue blazer, a matching fedora bound with a silvery trim-ribbon and a smile full of conviction to improve Calcutta’s traffic system.
Meet the city’s first female deputy commissioner of traffic — sprightly, young and brimming with ideas.
The Class X student of Gurcharan Singh Sondhi Girls’ High School in Tollygunge was offered the high chair for a day after her essay outlining ways to cure the city’s traffic woes was adjudged best in a year-long competition organised by the cops.
“I feel proud to be at the helm of such an efficient force,” she said minutes after taking her seat in the first-floor office at the Lalbazar traffic wing.
The girl who outsmarted 400 students from various schools to earn her “posting” at the police HQ did not waste time in getting down to business. As she spoke to journalists, she “instructed” her assistant to put her through to the officer-in-charge of the traffic police’s Southeast guard.
“Many schools in your area will give over in a while. Please instruct your personnel to be out on the road so that there’s no traffic jam or accident,” she ordered.
After snacks with senior colleagues Soumen Mitra, the special commissioner, and joint commissioner Supratim Sarkar, she set out to the traffic control room. Deputy commissioner Dilip Kumar Adak accompanied her.
Unlike the 2001 hit Nayak where all hell breaks lose when Shivaji Rao (Anil Kapoor) was made chief minister for a day, Anshu settled for suggestions rather than strict do-it-now orders to the officers under her command.
“There should be more footbridges and less bus stops,” suggested Anshu, who considers mother Sreelata as her role model.
Officers at Lalbazar nodded in approval. “Well done. This is the first time a lady has taken charge of the city’s traffic,” one of them said.
The city traffic department, sadly, does not even have a single woman sergeant. There are many woman personnel in the control room, though.
Many officers working in the department for over two decades marvelled at Anshu’s opportunity. “She is a lucky girl…. Officers work for years before they get to that chair. She did it on her first visit to the police headquarters,” one of them said.
The efficiency and discipline of the traffic department took her by surprise. “My impression was that of a commoner. Today I witnessed how hard the officers work to keep the city moving,” she saluted.