The following is an excerpt from an article published in the Times of India , "Traffic park as entertainment avenue and khau galli. Why not?" .
Santosh Pandey, who writes under the pen name of Badal, is a cop with a difference. He wields both, the cane and pen with elan. A head constable at the Kotwali division, Pandey's two latest compilations - 'Priayadarshini' and 'Beti' - is ready for release on the occasion of the International Women's Day and the programmes associated with it.
'Priyadarshini ' is based on the life of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi while 'Beti' is on the evils of the female infanticide. Pandey also has eight other titles published and an equal number ready for publication.
The cop has authored books on myriad subjects ranging from childhood and its innocence to dowry and its evil affects. Among the awards that Pandey has won includes the ministry of environment and forest's 'Medini Puraskar Yojana' in 2008, Maharashtra State Hindi Sahitya Academy's Sohanlal Dwivedi award in 2009 and many others.
Excerpts from an interview:
Q. What made you choose the subjects for 'Priyadarshini' and 'Beti'?
A. Indiraji's life, on which 'Priyadarshini' is based upon, had always intrigued me, especially during my visits to her ancestral place Anand Bhavan in Allahabad. There was an unexplained force that used to always drive me every time I visited the place. 'Beti' was an outcome of a Sadhvi Rithambhara sermon. I had often championed the cause of environment and female infanticide as a social worker. My duty as a policeman also helped me to realize the pain when a female baby is found abandoned or discarded. Also, I am a father of a daughter which also helped me to express my turmoil.
Q. Have you experimented in the new books?
A. They are simple, easy and understandable. I did not have a scholastic approach but rather ensured that message reaches deep within the society. Often a poet is confronted by the challenge of sending his message to the masses cutting across the cross-section of the society and I wanted to achieve just that rather than experiment with forms and patterns.
Q. Is there any controversial episode in 'Priyadarshini'?
A. I have consciously steered clear of any controversies. I do not have any intention of getting entangled in controversies. Healthy debates are OK, but not controversies. One should not drag controversies into literature.
Q. Is there any aspect or episode in the life of Indiraji that left you intrigued?
A. There have been several, each one fascinating. But, there was one period in her life that I feel shaped her into what she was in the later part of life. In her school days, Indiraji had formed an active unit of youngsters, labelling it as 'Monkey Brigade', who would act as couriers between satyagrahis during the Independence struggle and help in exchange of vital information by dodging the information networks of the British. This underlined her intense patriotism and unquestionable leadership quality which reflected in the later part of her life.
Q. How do you balance your job as a cop and poet?
A. My job as a policeman has given me an intriguing opportunity to delve into those arenas of life which I would not have got had I been working elsewhere. Various issues, different facets of our society and human life unfurl before me while I am attending my duty. This department is more of a social organization and government pays us salaries for this noble work which I do dutifully. When I am not a policeman, I am a poet and author. I devote most of my leisure time to literature. There are no other distractions in my life.
Q. When are you planning to write about your colleagues?
A. A collection of 120 poetries 'Police: Ek Kavi' is slated to hit the stands soon. In this book, my 25 years' experience and observations as a cop have been brought out in the form of poetry.
Q. Does being a government employee create any hurdles for you as poet?
A. The creative pursuit of an author or poet finds its expression wherever there is a thrust for it. Police or any other department's disciplinary restrictions cannot bind creative energies which flow despites hurdles. My books have been mostly released by our seniors in the department who have also encouraged me.
Q. What is your motivation?
A. The ambience at home is very crucial for a creative person. It is very important to enjoy support from one's family. My sole inspiration was the Late Mahadevi Verma who was an extraordinary Hindi poet and freedom fighter. I had once composed a parody of her celebrated work and she was impressed with it. It was she who had christened me as 'Badal'.