Bhutanese-IPS probationer making pathways

Lieutenant Sonam Lhamo from Royal Bhutan Police commanded platoon no. 3 of the ceremonial parade at IPS (photo: SVPNPA)

Lieutenant SonamLhamo was the first foreign probationer mess secretary at SVP National Police Academy who also called on the director for tree plantation coinciding with the social forestry day of Bhutan



The Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy (SVPNPA), where Indian Police Service (IPS) officers are trained, got its first foreign probationer mess secretary in 25-year-old Dechhab (Lieutenant) Sonam Lhamo during the 71st batch of Regular Recruit (RR) in 2019.

Over 150 probationers from Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, and Mauritius including India undergo basic training for a period of 14-month at SVP National Police Academy, where they also undergo various additional attachments in other regions of India.

She was elected from 11 contestants where she secured 90 percent of the total votes. “I was the only female candidate, and I never thought I would win, but I soon realized that I was the popular choice of the batch,” she said, adding her cordial relationship with batchmates and Hindi speaking skills added value in winning.

The mess secretary is a prestigious post with the mandate to ensure smooth functioning of the mess affairs with healthy foods and nutritional value for the probationers and staff members.

SonamLhamo describes her responsibility as a very exciting opportunity, saying, the whole learning experience was the best part. “I could learn a lot about Indian, Maldivian, and Nepalese culture being the mess secretary,” added the investigating officer, who has been serving in Punakha Police station.

What makes her responsibility even more valuable was she served them ema-datshi and kewa-datshi, in which she said, kewa-datshi was their all-time favorite.“Sometimes I used to prepare evening tea for them just to excite them the taste of how Bhutanese prepare tea,” she added.

However, it was not without challenges. The hard part, she mentioned, was to work “really hard to bring the best food forward” given it was an outsider to Indian cuisine at the “very minimal cost”.

In addition, Lieutenant SonamLhamo also stepped into taking extra responsibility of caring for the working staff including cooks, tailors, laundry, room orderliness, and their daily difficulties.

She believes in love and compassion blended leadership. “The most important aspect of good human leadership understands the needs and aspirations of your team, providing them with the necessary skills and knowledge and also providing them with the scope to think out of the box,” she added.

The assistant director of the academy, Pawan Kumar noted that SonamLhamo was the first mess secretary among foreign probationers while appreciating her determination, dedication, and hardwork in running the IPS mess functioning.

“You were also very sensitive towards the staff working in the IPS mess. Your orientation was not only towards the probationers but you also took a keen interest in the welfare of the daily wagers working under the mess. You put personal attention to all the aspects of mess functioning,” reads the letter of appreciation.

And it continued that not only she earned the trust of her batchmates but also achieved great respect from the staff working there because of her kind and humble behavior towards them.

DechhabSonamLhamo was also a platoon commander at the academy where only six probationers were leading their parade and the platoons. “I always loved drills. So when I was selected to be the platoon commander it was a dream coming true and had very good coordination with my platoon,” she said.

Looking back on her time at the schools and Sherubtse College, SonamLhamo had displayed leadership capabilities among the students taking the charge of several student leadership responsibilities.

Tree plantation initiative

Another career highlight of Lieutenant SonamLhamo was she called on the director to plant trees on 2 June in 2021 coinciding with the social forestry day in Bhutan which resulted in tree plantation by officers of various countries in specified areas at the prominent.

“I shared about our visionary Monarchs; constitution mandates of forest cover, uniqueness of culture and with it,” she added. “I said 2 June is a national holiday to commemorate the official crowning of the Fourth King of Bhutan – His Majesty Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck – in 1974.”

“I felt so proud when the director addressed the gathering, complimenting the ideas I have put in and the record I have set in the academy. It was a proud moment for me as well as my fellow Bhutanese officer trainees,” she said.

She feels it created a permanent and continuing memory of the officer trainees of these countries in the academy. “This is a symbol of the bond that we share now with the prestigious academy and with fellow Indian officers,” she said, adding this initiative will continue as an annual event.

Sonam is from Chhokhor in Bumthang graduated with a BA in English and Dzongkha from Sherubtse College in 2015who received a special award from the college which was awarded to two students.

She secured the second position in the Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) general category of the Bhutan Civil Service Examination (BCSE) in 2016.