Not born with a silver spoon, his intelligence and power of will made him the man he is today a role model indeed. A conversation with IPS officer, P Vijayan, the winner of the CNN-IBN Indian of the year 2014: Popular Choice Award gave an insight into his struggle and hard work that led him to become what he is today.

To award remarkable achievements and the contributors of Indians, CNN IBN announced the winners of its prestigious Indian of the Year Award 2014 in the Capital. The winners across politics, sports, entertainment, business, public service and global Indian categories amongst others were announced and felicitated by the chief guest, Vice-President of India, Mohd Hamid Ansari.

P Vijayan, an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer from 1999 batch, is currently serving as Deputy Inspector General of Police (Intelligence) in Kerala. He also holds simultaneous charge as Deputy Inspector General of Police (Battalions), overseeing all police battalions in Kerala, as well as official-in-charge of the Kerala Railway Police.

P Vijayan was born in a not-so-affluent family in Puthoormadam near Kozhikode in North Kerala. He was employed as a child labourer, but was determined to study, pass exams and earn a college degree. He worked in a soap company and also took classes for school children, did his MA and M. Phil in Economics from Calicut University and finally, after passing the civil Services exams in 1999, joined the IPS.

“My parents let me decide my destiny, they never interfered, always encouraged me,” Vijayan said, explaining how he achieved his goals. “My friends were not very educated but their capacity to motivate was much more than the so-called educated people. They stopped me from deviating from my goals and re-directed me instead.”

When Vijayan realised it was necessary for police to connect with citizens, particularly the youth, in a healthy and positive manner and also create a good image of the police in young minds, he launched a Student Police Cadet Project, which was initiated in 2006 and formally launched in 2010.“I wanted to uplift the image of the police that people had,” informed P Vijayan, giving insight on the idea behind the SPC project. “Hardly 10,000 people must be interacting with the police out of 3 lakh citizens. But the rest 2 lakh 90 thousand people have a bad impression of the police, including little children. So if you live in this bad image atmosphere, you will continue thinking like that. Therefore, we initiated this programme. Currently 37,000 students are undergoing this training.”

The SPC project uses existing network, infrastructure and leadership qualities of the police to supplement the physical, mental and educational development of the youth. It empowers school communities to create safe school environment and nurtures confident youth willing to react against social evil. Many such goals are being worked on in the SPC project. The project has now been expanded to a statewide network of 234 schools across Kerala, with both boys and girls enrolled as cadets.