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Sarah Sharma nerdybio: The Nerd Community

Sarah Sharma

Interviewed on
May 3, 2023 in Indian Police Service Officer Professor

Who are you, and what do you do?

I am Sarah Sharma, a 2010 batch IPS officer from Odisha Cadre. Prior to joining the service, I worked as an assistant professor at Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur and KIIT Law School in Bhubaneswar. After joining the service, I have been posted to various places. My initial posting as a probationer was in Balangir district where I was in-charge of the Sadar Thana. Later, I had operational postings where I received hands-on Naxal training. I was then posted as additional SP of Angul and SGPO at Aska, which happened to be the CM's constituency. Later I was posted as SP in Sonepur, Devgad, and Gajapati. In between I was also posted at Principal Police Training Institute and as SP of the Biju Patnaik State Police Academy. This has been my career graph so far. There is also something about music which has always motivated me to move forward in achieving my goals.

My interest in singing has been intrinsic to me since my childhood and probably it’s in my blood right from the day I have conscience of my environment. I have been passionate about singing and my interest & passion for it has grown with time. It is a means by which I express myself. I celebrate through singing, destress my-self, vent out my emotions, mourn or do something creative. Singing is something that gives me solace after a stressful day. I do reaj consistently because practice is something that is important to reach one’s goal and be a good singer. It is a means for me to express myself and engage in creative work outside of the office. It is also a way for me to relax and destress after a challenging day at work. Even if I get only 10 to 15 minutes, I make sure to practice because singing requires consistent practice to reach one's goals and become a good singer.

What hardware(tools) and software do you use?

Initially, with respect to my profession, I started singing to spread social messages. People are happy to sing along and grasp the things through song rather than listening to long lectures. During the COVID pandemic specially, I sang songs to spread awareness and covey the rules and regulations about COVID, like what to do and what not to do. Music helped us a lot in engaging people and making them understand the messages in a better way. For instance, we started the ‘SHE Team’ in Gajapati District and wanted to publicize it. However, we couldn't afford to hire a singer as it required a lot of money, so I was asked by my Guru to sing by myself. We had a basic studio with limited equipment, but we managed to record a song ourselves. We had a basic studio setup with a microphone, a simple computer setup, and local musicians, local composer including me being a local SP. The team also included a saxophonist and a keyboard player who were very efficient at their job. The studio was set up by an amateur artist who has great liking for music and was set up for his own personal recording and we utilized it. A part of the COVID song was also recorded in the local radio station operating in Gajapati district. What started as a local initiative for one police station on a pilot basis turned into a debut and a big hit and gained widespread attention. It also helped solve several problems. The song went viral and even the Honourable Chief Minister praised it on his social media handle which is also mentioned in my book 'My experiments with Community Policing'. Not only from local district, the SHE team started getting calls from all over the world. It went global and helped solving the purpose for which it was meant.

I was posted in a remote, district, which may be considered small, but since it was ruled by the Royals, the king used to encourage creativity and artists like musician, dancer, singers, etc. So geographically it might be small but culturally it has rich heritage.

I strongly believe that we should not be asking for an ideal situation to do things, things must be done immediately. Once we start procrastinating things, it never comes to an end. With the given means one must try to give his/her best. That has always been my mantra or tag line 'whatever is given to you, you have to be satisfied and do your best out of that'. We have to be more practical than being idealistic.

Music has been a passion and a means of expression for me, and I am grateful for the opportunity to use it in my career as a police officer to spread awareness and connect with people.

Technology is important as it allows us to keep track of what is happening in our district. We can get to know when things go wrong. Many a times people air their grievances through social media and their own YouTube channels, and through different posts and comments on other social media platforms. So, I used to get an idea of what the public feels about the working of the police, whether they are praising you or trolling you. So, when they praise you, that means you know things are okay. But when they criticize you on a certain aspect or the police force as such, then you get an idea of what is the impression that the police carry among people and whether we are working well or not. Social media gives people liberty to air their views without any fear or favour.

Least to mention, there was one incident where a person was trapped in Arunachal Pradesh whose whereabouts and information reached us though social media. With social media group and networking such as our JNU group, WhatsApp group, we were successful in bring him back to his hometown in Gajapati district, where I was posted. So, that was possible due to social media both as information sharing and networking platform. Technology is, of course, playing a big role, a boon as well as a bane, I should say, when it comes to cybercrime. Also, to mention technology is also disrupting people's lives and especially women's lives. We get a lot of complaints regarding the status of women's posts and porn and objectionable photos being uploaded and fake Facebook and social media profile being created in their name, and people falling prey to cheaters and all those vulnerable people becoming more vulnerable. But at the same time, we are also using social media to spread awareness, to connect with and talk to people. We had our own SP Gajapati site and now every SP has, except in Vigilance currently where I am. I don't have presently, but I had it when I was in the district. So, we used to spread awareness through these sites. As part of awareness campaign, we staged street plays during COVID times, talking about different kinds of bank frauds, different kinds of cyber frauds which people were falling prey to. So, we took up case studies from the cases that we had in the district, and we staged plays in terms of stories on the streets during COVID time with the speakers so that people could all listen and not fall prey. We did see a decline in the number of cybercrimes in the district because people were becoming aware. Once people are aware they won’t fall prey to it. People who fall prey to online games, lotteries and other stuff like purchases, high rates of interest cover a huge uneducated mass where creating awareness through social media plays a big role. We also staged a street play on cyber-crime by portraying a person though graphic image as cyber-criminal and putting a black veil on his face which was aired by various media channels and many people got aware of things that were happening. Through the means of technology and social media spreading awareness among large group of people was possible which eventually led to decline in the crime rate.

What would be your dream/dream setup?

Technology is going to do wonders in the future, and with its help, many jobs are going to become outdated, especially because of artificial intelligence and machine learning. I believe that everything will eventually become automated. Therefore, we need more technically skilled individuals, including consultants, even in fields like the police, who can help us. I was recently reading about how Odisha Police is planning to establish a social media cell composed of tech-savvy individuals and those with technical backgrounds. I feel that we all need to be technically savvy, as technology is going to play a crucial role in the near future. Even when you talk about crypto even though we see it is legalised but slowly seeing it’s being used for corruption cases to avoid being caught. Crypto and other related technologies will be terminology for the next few years, and we all need to be technically savvy. Many countries are transitioning from manual to digital payment apps, and technology may pose challenges for police as cybercriminals are often ahead of law enforcement. Therefore, we need more technical experts in various fields. Whether technology is ultimately beneficial or detrimental, we need to be technically sound, and technology is going to play a major role in police department.

We are almost in the technological word where everything is surrounded by technology specially AI, so we have to be careful and be technically sound.

I always feel that there should be hard work, consistency, and discipline in life. Follow a schedule and work for it. Makeup your mind, mind is very strong, the way you think that happens. I got some time during my posting and thought of writing a book.

For young generation I want to say that always try to develop yourself. The young generation should not be depressed and carried over by emotions rather should be more in charge of themselves and more control of their emotions and always have a positive mindset.

Once you think calmy there is always a solution. Rather than becoming escapist face it. There is always a hope beyond despair. Stay away from distraction and focus on your goal and that will definitely lead you to success.

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